- “Are you Bill Watterson?” (or “I love your comics!” or “Please send me that Calvin comic you did about ___________!”)
No, I am not Bill Watterson. My name is Tim and I’m just a big fan of Bill’s work.
- “How can I contact Bill Watterson?”
The short answer is, you can’t. The story goes that after 1995 when the strip ended (or before that), Bill asked his syndicate to stop forwarding fan mail to him because he wished to retire and be done with the whole notion of “celebrity” and the business of professional cartooning. More recently, the syndicate stated: “we are sorry to report that at Mr. Watterson’s request, we do not forward correspondence his way for the simple fact that he would be unable to keep up with the overwhelming demand.”
- “How can I get a print of a specific strip?”
Prints of specific Calvin strips are obtainable from the official site. Simply find the strip you want using their calendar for the date and click the link below the strip which says, “Buy a print of this comic”.
- “How can I obtain an original piece of Watterson artwork?”
Unfortunately, obtaining original Watterson artwork is next to impossible. He never sold his comic strips and he rarely gave out sketches. Originals appear on eBay from time to time, but you must be wary of forgeries. Another option is to seek help from a professional art dealer, preferably someone with a good reputation in comic art. Be prepared to spend thousands of dollars for a piece with solid provenance.
- “Where did the character names come from?”
According to Bill Watterson, Calvin is named for 16th-century theologian John Calvin, founder of Calvinism and a strong believer in predestination. Hobbes is named after 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who had what Watterson described as “a dim view of human nature.” According to Watterson, the two names are intended as a joke for people studying political science.
- “How do you pronounce the name ‘Hobbes’? Is it hobbs or hoebs or
The correct pronunciation is the same as the philosopher he’s named after, Thomas Hobbes: “Hobbs”
- “How can I get the ___________ listed on your site?” (a.k.a. “Where did you get ___________?” or “Where can I find a stuffed Hobbes toy for my offspring?”)
There are no plush Hobbes toys. Although there are a few legal Calvin & Hobbes items listed on my site (the calendars, e.g.) they were really only for the first couple years of the strip’s run in the late 1980s. The syndicate wanted Bill to license the characters for everything from cartoons to t-shirts to plush toys. Watterson, however, finally came to the decision not to merchandise the characters, saying, “My strip is about private realities, the magic of imagination, and the specialness of certain friendships. Who would believe in the innocence of a little kid and his tiger if they cashed in on their popularity to sell overpriced knickknacks that nobody needs?” You can read more of Bill’s thoughts on licensing comics characters by clicking here.Almost all of the items listed on my site were found online at places like eBay. The calendars show up there two or three times a year. Sketches appear sometimes but you have to be VERY careful about those (see next question for details).
- “I see that you have listed some examples of sketches which may or may not be fakes. How can I tell a real sketch from a fake one before spending my hard-earned money?”
That’s a very good question. This is why I haven’t spent my meager life savings yet, because I can’t decide the criteria of what makes a Watterson an original, except the old claim of “I’ll know it when I see it.” The most telling point is the signature. It’s not too hard to fake a standing character by an artist, but signatures take a lot of practice to get right. See how controlled some of the sketches are? They’re almost TOO legible. The signature on sketch 23 for example just doesn’t feel loose. The letters are clear and don’t overlap each other much at all. Now look at this signature. The “o” in Watterson is hardly legible as an “o” at all because it’s a fluid, natural signature. The other thing is that it’s easier to fake a stationary character than a character in motion. Only Bill seems capable of capturing Calvin & Hobbes running the way he does (see sketch 11 for an example). That, in my opinion, is why most or all fakes are the characters just standing there or walking slowly. And if you ever see a Watterson offered with a background, that will probably be real because his backgrounds are very singular in their depiction of nature. I doubt most amateurs could fake his forest watercolors, and there isn’t enough money in Watterson art for a pro forger to try. Still, I’m no art expert and this is all just my personal observation. If you ever see a sketch that looks promising but you want a second opinion, just ask and I’ll check it out.
- “So do you own all of the items and sketches on your site?”
Nope! There’s no way I could afford to buy every Calvin item I come across. Besides, I don’t really want to own some of them. Remember: Calvin t-shirts and car decals/stickers are illegal. Please don’t give money to bootleggers!
- “What’s your favorite question someone has asked?”
I think the funniest one was, “Are you sure you have the official site correct?” I guess that person wasn’t too impressed with the syndicate’s web presence?!