P.Brower, via e-mail, asks, 'Whatever Happened To...?'

Cartoonist Bill Watterson

By Lane Hartill for the Christian Science Monitor
From the Dec.28, 2000 edition, vol.93, Issue 24, pg.23

Unlike the witty Hobbes or the scheming Calvin, Bill Watterson, creator of the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes isn't one for much talking. The reclusive cartoonist, who retired in 1996, leads a private life in a small Ohio town. His strip, which made its debut in 1985, is still syndicated overseas.

Mr. Watterson is notorious for not giving interviews. But John Kuehner, a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, talked with Watterson at his front door in 1998. During the chat, in which Watterson forbade Mr. Kuehner from taking notes, Watterson talked of his desire to stay out of the public eye.

"He's very intelligent and wanted to discuss the merits of why he wasn't a public figure," said Kuehner in a phone interview. "He wanted to debate; it was almost collegiate."

Watterson felt strongly about the artistic integrity of cartoons. He did not like the commercialization of them.

Watterson now paints for his own enjoyment and can be seen riding his bike around town. But locals respect his privacy and leave him alone, says a city official who asked not to be identified.

According to Lee Salem, executive vice president and editor at the Universal Press Syndicate, Watterson probably won't resume drawing Calvin and Hobbes, which once appeared in 2,400 newspapers. "I think he will never do [it] again," Mr. Salem says.

Watterson, who published 16 Calvin and Hobbes books, has said that he does not think a strip should be continued after the retirement of the cartoonist.

"He's not a comedian," says Salem of Watterson. "He's very straightforward. He doesn't want a public persona associated with the work he's done."