Reclusive 'Calvin and Hobbes' cartoonist breaks silence

Northeast Ohio native Bill Watterson grants interviews for Ohio State exhibit.
TNS Regional News
Mar 22, 2014

 

Cartoonist Bill Watterson has granted a handful of interviews since he retired his Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in 1995, but the famously private artist agreed to answer questions recently from Ohio State University's cartoon library.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum yesterday released the transcript of an interview between Watterson and Jenny Robb, the curator of an exhibit that will take a look back at the Calvin and Hobbes strip starting Saturday.

"I can say without reservation how profound his influence has been on a generation of cartoonists," said James Sturm, a cartoonist and the director of the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year cartooning school in Vermont. "To create something so alive and universal, that is just so rare."

At the peak of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes appeared in 2,400 newspapers worldwide, sharing the adventures of a young boy and his tiger companion. Fans have begged for more since the strip's 10-year run ended, but Watterson has released only two pieces of art since then, neither linked to the comic.

Raised in Chagrin Falls, near Cleveland, Watterson exchanged emails with the Plain Dealer in 2010, which was believed to be his first interview since 1989. Since then, he has answered questions from The Washington Post, Mental Floss magazine and for a new documentary about cartooning, Stripped.

Interviews with Watterson are so rare that when he agreed to a voice-only chat for the documentary, "that was a press release all by itself," Sturm said.

"I think to some extent Bill is surprised by how much interest and attention there still is for a strip that ended almost 20 years ago," Robb said Thursday.

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By Collin Binkley - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

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