At the height of its popularity, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes was featured in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide, and its final strip marked the end of an era for fans of the poignant look at childhood and friendship.
But this month fans were treated to a little touch of Watterson’s magic and they may not have even realized it. The final Calvin and Hobbes strip ran in 1995, when Watterson decided that he has ”done what [he] can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels.” He has remained reclusive since then, rarely granting interviews and almost never publishing new content under his own name.
And then, seemingly out of the blue, something amazing happened. Stephan Pastis’s syndicated strip, Pearls Before Swine, felt just a little familiar. And last week, Pastis revealed his big news on his blog alone with a great story about how it all came together.
As a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, Pastis wanted to meet Watterson, but his efforts to reach out to him went without a response, which apparently isn’t unusual for the reclusive cartoonist. Pastis referred to Watterson as the “Bigfoot of cartooning.” Pastis wasn’t offended by the apparent rejection, and he admits that one of his owns strips gave him the nudge he needed to try again.
This time, Watterson wrote back, and the enthusiasm with which Stephen Pastis responded can only be described as unabashed fanboy glee. According to Patsis, he wrote back to Bill Watterson:
I will do whatever you want, including setting my hair on fire.”
Together, they collaborated on three Pearls Before Swine strips. Pastis said he found Watterson to be funny and easy to work with, although the logistics of the collaboration were challenging because, as Pastis put it, technology is not Watterson’s friend. But they worked it out, and the most difficult part of the process may have been keeping the whole thing secret until all three strips ran, as Pastis promised Watterson he would do.
Here are the strips, which you can also find at Go Comics…
Images: Stephan Pastis, Bill Waterson