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le 3 janvier 2006
I am writing this on my birthday, having received this as a gift just yesterday. I can't think of a better gift for one's birthday! I have been a fan of Calvin and Hobbes for a very long time - indeed, I have given a lecture that drew upon images and actions of Calvin and Hobbes along with commentary based on their theological/philosophical counterparts. If you think about it, there is a good deal of Calvinist thinking in Calvin, and a good deal of Hobbesian philosophy in Hobbes. But that is, blessedly for most, not the main idea of the books here.
This beautifully produced three-volume set is the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips from the newspapers over the decade that Bill Watterson produced them. I have several paperback editions of these strips, but it invariably happens that a strip I remember is not among the ones I have. For example, for the longest time I searched for the one in which Calvin expresses his difficulty with mathematics, and Hobbes explains that this is nothing - wait until he reaches imaginary numbers (like eleventeen, thirty-twelve, and other such, which tigers of course have a natural instinct for). It might take some thumbing through to find things, but then, who would mind going through this glorious collection?
All of the characters are here - Calvin and Hobbes, and all the long-suffering around them: the teacher Miss Wormwood, Susie, Rosalyn the babysitter, and Calvin's parents (who are not mentioned by name in the strip). There are also the bit players (imaginary or not imaginary) characters such as aliens, the doctor, the principal, Moe, dinosaurs, and more. We re-learn the rules to Calvinball, and re-enter the club G.R.O.S.S. (which is an acronym that stands for Get Rid Of Slimy girlS).
There are three books, each about 500 pages each. It includes a good introduction with autobiographical information about Bill Watterson, who is known to be a reclusive figure, shying away from the limelight and avoiding marketing opportunities that might have made much more money (those images of Calvin on the various trucks and cars, seen in rather mischievous situations, are actually not authorized by Watterson). Watterson recounts part of his struggle to contain the world of Calvin and Hobbes into such a short space. He also discusses the difficulty and irony of dealing with characters that are very much a part of the culture they are at the same time critiquing. The strips are a bit smaller than might wish, but in order to keep all things in one collection (without going to another large volume, and adding to the already 20+ pounds of this one) I think the decision was a good one to go with the size here.
This makes a fabulous gift, for oneself and for friends. Calvin and Hobbes live forever in the world of imagination. Go explore.