Comments by Bill Watterson (also copyright) Calvin
Calvin is named for a sixteenth-century theologian who believed in predestination. Most people assume that Calvin is
based on a son ofmine, or based on detailed memories of my own childhood. In fact, I don't have children, and
I was a fairly quiet, obedient kid -- almost Calvin'sopposite. One of the reasons that Calvin's character is
fun to write isthat I often don't agree with him. . . .
Many of Calvin's struggles are metaphors for my own. I
suspect that most of us get old without growing up, and that inside every adult (sometimes not very far inside) is a
bratty kid who wants everything his own way. I use Calvin as an outlet for my immaturity, as a way to keep myself
curious about the natural world, as a way to ridicule my own obsessions, and as a way to comment on human nature.
I wouldn't want Calvin in my house, buton paper, he helps me sort through my life and understand it.
Named after a seventeenth-century philosopher with a dim view of human nature, Hobbes has the patient dignity and
common sense of most animals I've met.
Hobbes was very much inspired by one of our cats, a gray tabby named Sprite. Sprite not only provided the long body and
facial characteristics for Hobbes, she also was the model for his personality. She was good-natured, intelligent, friendly,
and enthusiastic in a sneaking-up-and-pouncing sort of way. Sprite suggested the idea of Hobbes greeting Calvin at the
door in midair at high velocity.
The so-called "gimmick" of my strip -- the two versions of Hobbes-- is sometimes
misunderstood. I don't think of Hobbes as a doll that miraculously comes to life when Calvin's around. Neither do I
think of Hobbes as the product of Calvin's imagination. . . . Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes
another way. I show two versions of reality, and each makes complete sense to the participant who sees it. I think
that's how life works. None of us sees the world exactly the same way, and I just draw that literally in the strip.
I've never given Calvin's parents names, because as far as the strip is concerned,
they are important only as Calvin's mom and dad. Calvin's dad has been rumored to be a self-portrait. All my
characters are halfme, so it's true in some ways, but Calvin's dad is also partly a satire of my own father.
Any strip about how suffering "builds character" is usually a verbatim transcript of my dad's explanations for
why we were all freezing, exhausted, hungry, and lost on camping trips. These things are a lot funnier after twenty-five
years have passed.
Calvin's mom is the daily disciplinarian, a job that taxes her sanity, so I think we get to see her
at her best. I regret that the strip mostly shows her impatient side, but I try to hint at other aspects of her
personality and her interests by what she's doing when Calvin barges in. . . .
. . . As secondary characters, I've
tried to keep Calvin's parents realistic, with a reasonable sense of humor about having a kid like Calvin. I think they
do a better job than I would.
Susie is earnest, serious and smart. . . . I suspect that Calvin has a mild crush on her that
he expresses by trying to annoy her, but Susie is a bit unnerved and put off by Calvin's weirdness. This encourages Calvin
to be even weirder, so it's a good dynamic. Neither of them quite understands what's going on, which is probably true of
As a few readers guessed, Miss Wormwood is named after the apprentice devil in C. S. Lewis's The
Screwtape Letters. I have a lot of sympathy for Miss Wormwood. We see hints that she's waiting to retire, that she smokes
too much, and that she takes a lot of medication. I think she seriously believes in the value of education, so needless
to say, she's an unhappy person.
Probably the only person Calvin fears is his baby-sitter. I put her in a Sunday strip early on, never thinking of her as
a regular character,but her intimidation of Calvin surprised me, so she's made a few appearances since. Rosalyn even seems
to daunt Calvin's parents, using their desperation to get out of the house to demand advances and raises. Rosalyn's
relationship with Calvin is pretty one-dimensional, so baby-sitter stories get harder and harder to write, but for a later
addition to the strip, she's worked pretty well.
Moe is every jerk I've ever known. He's big, dumb, ugly, and cruel. I remember school being full of idiots like Moe.
I think they spawn on damp locker room floors.