An Interview with Bill Watterson

Jake Rossen of mental_floss magazine got the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, which will appear in the December issue. Selected excerpts are at the website. Watterson doesn't like to get personal, but was willing to talk about his work. And it looks like there won't be a Calvin and Hobbes movie anytime soon.

Years ago, you hadn’t quite dismissed the notion of animating the strip. Are you a fan of Pixar? Does their competency ever make the idea of animating your creations more palatable?

The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes. If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.

Watterson also talks about the YouTube animations of his work, and how he became so protective about the characters he created.

How did mental_floss get to interview the notoriously reclusive Watterson? Even the editor doesn't know!

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It seems to be a pattern of Watterson slowly opening up. Even before this, he did a phone interview for an upcoming documentary (and no, it's not the well-publicized "Dear Mr. Watterson"). It was for "Stripped" which is attempting to distill over 100 years of the history of comics and over 70 interviews with everyone from Jim "Garfield" Davis to Matt "Oatmeal" Inman into an under-two-hours package and has suffered interminable delays because the filmmakers wanted to show everything possible AND get proper rights clearance for it all. (But it was during the rights-clearance delays that Watterson decided "okay, let's talk") And in "Stripped" you will hear his voice! Not just an e-mail exchange. I'm impressed, but then, I'm impressed with everything about this project (Disclaimer: I supported the film's Kickstarter a few web-centuries ago and am awaiting my DVD).

Also Bill Watterson will be joining Richard Thompson, who recently had to quit doing "Cul-De-Sac" (the comic so many people called 'the next Calvin & Hobbes' or 'the next Peanuts') due to Parkinson's Disease in a two-man art show at the Comic Strip Library & Museum at Ohio State University next spring. (And look, he's talking about it, mostly to praise the other artist.) This comes after Watterson's first post-Calvin piece of art (a painting of a Cul-De-Sac character) was auctioned off for a Cul-De-Sac-themed Parkinson's fundraiser.

Between Watterson coming out of his shell, and Thompson getting the support he needs, this is turning into some of the best comics news of the year...
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