Saturday, July 23, 2011

Calvin and Hobbes - Weirdos from Another Planet!

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by Bill Watterson

Ever read the comic in pullout section of the newspaper? If you did, then Calvin and Hobbes will not be total strangers to you. The humorous comic which ran in boxes of four or sometimes luxuriously filling up half of the page had been featured in most comic sections for as far as I can read, and had been the company of most readers of newspaper. There are a few compilations of Calvin and Hobbes comics and Weirdos from Another Planet! is one of them.

The Collection

Collecting some of the printed comics in 1988 and running at near 300 pages long, Weirdos from Another Planet! will be a worthy pastime to spend your evening at, laughing at the ironic but humorous actions and conversations of the kid with hairstyle that defies gravity in the company of his make believe stuffy tiger. In his world, his stuffy tiger Hobbes was as real as the person next to him, and most of Calvin's comical action were did in concert with Hobbes.


The Kid

Calvin was by no means crazy, just an imaginative kid who spends most of his intellect trying to get his own way with his family and friends, not unlike what most of us did in our childhood. His mischievous yet creative ways always made me laughed, and along with Hobbes, he made the people around him crawl up the wall literally. In our childhood, how many of us did not spend time trying to think of a way or excuse trying to bend the adults' reasoning to our side in order to get that piece of dessert that we longed for? And how many of them ended up not knowing whether they should be mad or they should laugh?


One of Calvin's characteristics which reminded me of my childhood was the imaginations he crafted up. He was a dinosaur, a fighter pilot, a light particle, a space adventurer or a superhero... all these will usually ended up with reality catching up with him or with the target of his mischievous imagination shown as a person close to him. For a boy, these imaginations were just a favorite pastime for me. I used to feast upon scientifically advanced topics although I had no idea what they were. Dinosaurs, black holes, time traveling - all these science and sci-fi stuff were just part and parcel of my childhood life, and I always imagined that I was on an archaeological dig when I paw through the ground with my little shovel.


His imaginations were also funny in the sense that Calvin could imagine himself as something sophisticated to escape the situation and still somehow able to merge dream with reality in the end. Imagine him riding his toy wagon to outer space, yet be home for dinner because Mars is too boring. Some of his funnier moments involved his close ones, like his dad explaining why the sun rises and sets. In other moments, Calvin used realistic scenarios to try to get adults to his way, like creating an imaginative poll that concluded that his dad needed to change (to his way, that is).


The Artist

A praise to Watterson: the ironic and funny monologues and conversations usually carried with them the reality of the world. For example, Calvin decided to leave Earth for Mars because he came to the conclusion that adults were leaving the Earth dirty so that the next generation will clean up after them.

The art used in the comics is also varied, with different styles meant for different imagined scenario. Watterson's style preferred the simple, with buttoned eyes and a few strokes to get the statement across the comic. In dramatic moments, he leaned heavily to exaggerated styles, with large eyes and hairs that stood upright to show shock, and large gaping mouth to show anger. In other moments, like when Calvin imagined himself as a dinosaur, the style changed dramatically to heavier strokes.

The collection really did make my evening more enjoyable, and I still took it out to read once in a while although I had read it numerous times. Calvin and Hobbes: Weirdos from Another Planet! is definitely a recommended reading for you when you are down and depressed.


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