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CSBG Archive

When We First Met – The Cast of Calvin and Hobbes

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today, based on a request by Travis Pelkie, we examine the various debuts of the cast of Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes!

In the very first strip, from November 18, 1985, we meet Calvin, Hobbes AND Calvin’s father…

Interestingly enough, before we meet Calvin’s mother, we first meet his teacher, Miss Wormwood, on November 21, 1985 – First Miss Wormwood

His mother shows up a few days later, on November 26, 1985….

November 29, 1985 gives us the first appearance of Spaceman Spiff as well as the first time we meet Calvin’s principla, Mr. Spittle…

Let me take a break from chronological order to show you Calvin’s two other most famous alter-egos.

First, Tracer Bullet, who debuted on May 16, 1987

and then Stupendous Man, who debuted on October 30, 1987…

The most famous kid in the strip other than Calvin, Suzie Derkins, gets a very special series of introductory strips.

On December 3, 1985, we hear of her arrival…

On December 4, 1985, we first see her name…

And finally, on December 5, 1985, we finally meet her…

On January 30, 1986, we meet Calvin’s bully, Moe…\

And finally, on May 15, 1986 we meet Calvin’s beleaguered babysitter, Rosalyn…

It’s pretty impressive how Watterson had everything pretty much solidified practically right off the bat. In less than two months he had pretty much everyone introduced.

Thanks for the request, Travis! If YOU have a debut you’d like to see, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

46 Comments

What a dreadful comic strip.

It’s amazing how many comic strips Calvin and Hobbs have influenced.

@ Jog
Really? I’m just going to assume you’re dead inside.

But back to the strip… I discovered C&H in fourth grade, my teacher had all the old paperback collections of these strips and I used to get in trouble for reading them in class. So she started letting me take them home to read them (and I continued to read them in class, but in my defense they were an incentive to get my work done early lol)

Calvin and Hobbes was the first comic I started collecting, after reading my teacher’s copies I had to own them for myself. It took me about a year, but I’ve had them all for a while now. I remember reading them a lot late a night when I had trouble getting to sleep. They’ll probably be the last thing I sell if I have to get rid of my collection. Major props to Bill Waterson, he did a fantastic job on this strip; along with Schulz, he’s probably the biggest giant in the comic strip world, and rightly so.

interesting how long it took for calvin and hobbes supporting cast and those who got a front row seat to calvins way to become part of the strip. bill had a true classic with it

The first one at this site is my favorite

http://www.s-anand.net/blog/calvin-and-hobbes-dad-explains-science/

Is that first Susie Derkins strip a subtle nod to Peanuts?

Such a great strip. While Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine are really funny, Cul De Sac is the only thing that has come close to the type of warmth and humor Watterson had mastered. Still miss C&H.

Calvin and Hobbes was my favorite comic strip ever. My second and third favorites were Bloom County and The Far Side. Notice a pattern here? All the greatest strips have been allowed to die a natural death. The creators had too much integrity to let somebody else keep the strip going just for the sake of money.

Meanwhile, all the crappiest strips seem to live forever, handed down to lesser cartoonists who keep that money coming in for the syndicate and the descendants of the original creator. Garfield will live forever.

It always amazes me that people can slag off on Calvin and Hobbes with a straight face.

Don’t forget Calvin’s short lived Uncle Max.

I used to buy the Calvin & Hobbes collected editions. They came out (roughly?) once a year and it was one of the highlights of my year. Utter brilliance and the greatest strip ever created.

Calvin&Hobbes is the best comic strip ever.

First, Garfield may not be awesome anymore… But it was!

Second, YOU FORGOT THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF SPACEMAN SPIFF.

We could also use the first appearances of the dinosaurs, the snowmen, and the box inventions.

I always saved Calvin & Hobbes for last when I read the funnies.

@ Jake Earlewine: Same here! The Far Side & Bloom County were the only strips that could approach C&H. Robotman was on the next tier down. I believe the late ’80s/ early ’90s were the last time kids cared enough about comic strips to discuss them the way they do t.v. shows and video games.

@ Boabie: Those collected editions (and Far Side collections) were highlights every Christmas.

I remember seeing Calvin & Hobbes in the Chicago Tribune when it debuted. Loved it from the beginning. Read every strip. Bought every collection. Very few newspaper strips come any where near that. It is a rare webcomic that accomplishes that for my tastes.

Blue Spider: Do you mean to say that he FORGOT THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF SPACEMAN SPIFF that’s right there in the post, the fourth strip down?

I agree, joshschr, that sure looks like the Charlie Brown stone wall to me.

Ryan 'Halite' King

November 19, 2012 at 11:42 am

Calvinball – March 1989, http://freewebs.com/calhobbes/first.jpg

@Mike “The Far Side & Bloom County were the only strips that could approach C&H.”

I hope you’re referring to only strips created in the last 30 years. IMO, every discussion of great, classic comic strips MUST include Peanuts. The one that paved the way for strips like Calvin & Hobbes. (and Peanuts, like C&H, Far Side, Bloom County, were ended by their creator not allowing it to slip into other hands.)

In the December 5, 1986 strip shown above, I wonder why Watterson chose to place Suzie standing on the table in the last panel. I think he could have gotten the same point across if she was still sitting, yelling with her mouth wide open. Placing her on the table, to me anyway, takes me out of the moment.

Ooo, Calvinball, that’s a good one.

I had C&H Sunday strips taped to my walls when I was a teenager. I got a copy of every print collection ASAP after they came out, and the giant Complete Doorstop the day of release. I cringe whenever I see a “urinating child” window sticker.

I love comics and comic strips, but I’ll never miss anything like I do Calvin & Hobbes.

Blue Spider, I seem to remember reading somewhere lately that Spaceman Spiff first appeared around November 29, 1985, in the same strip where we meet Calvin’s principal for the first time. If I could only find somewhere that they mention the principal’s name…

It’s not just the wall, though Mike. Didn’t Charlie Brown or Linus occasionally strike a pose similar to Calvin’s at the end of the strip? It would have been a little more clear if Calvin said “good grief”, but that might have been too on the nose, if that’s what Watterson was going for.

Is it intentional that Frazz looks like a grown-up Calvin?

Calvin and Hobbes was by far the greatest thing that ever happened to the comic strip. I was a fan of Bloom County (Still have my Bill The Cat t-shirt), The Far Side and now the Boondocks…but Calvin was that kid in all of us that came across perfectly on the paper. The facial expressions that Calvin would give us or the logic behind the conversations he and Hobbes would have just left you shaking your head. Sad moment in time when the strip ended.

For all of you out there who hate those bootleg Calvin peeing stickers as much as I do, I made this:
https://twitter.com/aaronbibb/status/270620833716768769/photo/1

Calvin & Hobbes was such an iconic strip that: A., it’s hard to believe it only lasted less than 10 years, and. B., it’s been gone for almost 18 years.

Watterson soured for me with his 10th anniversary book, where he spent page upon page at the front end talking about how comic strips are the glorious, unappreciated art form, and how great they are, and how their purity must be maintained (which is why there is no licensed Calvin and Hobbes merchandise). Then, later in the book, he ran this strip:
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1992/07/22

with this quote underneath it:
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/347756-you-can-make-your-superhero-a-psychopath-you-can-draw
“You can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a “graphic novel,” but comic books are still incredibly stupid.”

Dismissing an entire medium, one that sits right next to his own, that suffers many of the same critical slings and arrows of his own, in one swoop. That he’s a self-important blowhard pops up whenever I read his stuff. For me, the whole comic strip sits in that light, and it’s hard for me to read and enjoy.

Nice to see I”m not the only one with fond memories of the strip.

This must also be one of those rare strips where the characters’ looks were more or less set from the moment they debuted. With others, such as Garfield and Peanuts, it took several years for the creators to settle into a fixed appearence. The characters as they first appeared bear only passing resemblances to their later looks.

” Die a hero, or live long enough to be a villain”…proven creatively by Calvin and Hobbes’ all-too-short run :(

I’ll chime in on Gary’s comments about Watterson. Your line about dismissing an entire medium is almost exactly the same thing I’ve said many times, and one of the frustrating and perplexing things about Watterson. He really does seem to have his head placed petty firmly up his own asshole a lot of the time. I read that 10th anniversary book so many times in middle school, and was pretty annoyed by a lot of his comments, but I could never be completely soured on the guy. I was too big a fan before I read the book, and the quality of the strip is just so strong, that I’d probably be completely charmed by it even without the powerful boost notalgia gives reading it. Sometimes artists that do great work have silly and wrong-headed opinions about all sorts of shit (lets be honest, his actual criticisms of comic books aren’t wrong, it’s just the total dismissal of the medium, one that his beloved Walt Kelly worked in, that galls), and there’s a line that if crossed can keep you from enjoying his or her work. Watterson’s easily on the safe side of that line for me.

” Dismissing an entire medium, one that sits right next to his own, that suffers many of the same critical slings and arrows of his own, in one swoop. That he’s a self-important blowhard pops up whenever I read his stuff. For me, the whole comic strip sits in that light, and it’s hard for me to read and enjoy. ”

By all accounts, Watterson seems like a pretty difficult person to deal with. But that in no way is a slight against the integrity of his work.

@joshschr

I’ve often thought the same thing about Frazz, good to see I’m not alone :)

What I find impressive is how quick the character models were locked down. Look at how much the Garfield models changed from the first strip.

Jog is obviously joking around. Everybody knows that C+H is the only comic strip post-Pogo that matters.

And I do believe that Gary protest too much! Is there anything wrong with the observations Watterson made in that strip? Superhero comics were by and large absolutely dreadful things during C+H’s run – self-important, brutally violent and dreadfully juvenile. Somebody with a brain and drawing talent had to take the piss out of them.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

November 20, 2012 at 2:07 am

“Superhero comics were by and large absolutely dreadful things during C+H’s run – self-important, brutally violent and dreadfully juvenile. Somebody with a brain and drawing talent had to take the piss out of them.”

“Comic books”, which is the term Watterson used, does not equal “superheroes”. So everybody’s in the wrong here: Watterson, for making a stupid generalisation, and superhero fans, for thinking that has any effect on the quality of C&H.

Of course, superhero fans (and CBR readers in particular) are famously unable to accept any criticism of their sacred cows, stupid or legitimate. If Watterson had to deal with comments from this crowd (which he didn’t, C&H predating the spread of the internet and all that), he’d probably wish he’d drawn the prophet Muhammed instead – less controversy that way.

For those interested, there’s a great fan-made strip called “Calvin & Company” over on Facebook that has a good feel to Calvin and Hobbes. It’s basically Calvin 30 years later. The first 25 strips are up now. http://on.fb.me/IJAUe2

Kujibur, thanks for that link; funny, just about a week ago I ran across a link to another set of C&H tribute strips featuring a grown-up Calvin (also married to Susie). There’s only four, but I think they capture the spirit of the original C&H much better. Here’s the links:
http://www.pantsareoverrated.com/archive/2011/05/10/hobbes-and-bacon/
http://www.pantsareoverrated.com/archive/2011/05/12/hobbes-and-bacon-002/
http://www.pantsareoverrated.com/archive/2011/10/11/hobbes-and-bacon-03-2/
http://www.pantsareoverrated.com/archive/2011/10/13/hobbes-and-bacon-04-2/

Paul,

Remember, the comment basically boils down to “No matter what you do, comic books are stupid.” Let’s look at some publishing dates, then? So… published that strip in 1992, published the 10th Anniversary Book in 1995. What have we got in there? Well, 1992 started Mark Waid’s run on “Flash”, and he’d hit his stride by well before 1995, “The Return of Barry Allen” was published in 1993. “The Infinity Gauntlet” was published in late 1991. In 1994, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross turned out “Marvels”. We’ll let it slide on “Astro City”, which began publication in August 1995; presumably a September 1995 publishing date has this book in printing when “Astro City” launches. 1991 had Peter David’s run on “X-Factor”, and his run on “The Incredible Hulk” ran from 1987 to 1998. 1991 had “Uncanny X-Men” 275, and the Davis/Davis/Farmer “Excalibur” run went from 1991 through 1993. Morrison’s run on “Doom Patrol” goes from 1989-1993. Back before any of this is the Claremont, Byrne/Claremont “X-Men”, including the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, and “From the Ashes”, featuring the classic loose cannon Wolverine back when he wasn’t a Mary Sue. Speaking even more directly to the “you can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a “graphic novel””, that would be “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns”.

All of them “incredibly stupid.” From someone who spends page upon page calling out how the comic STRIP needs more respect. Even if he doesn’t know ANY of those books, he’s an enormous hypocrite for saying it. It is as though I choose to judge “Calvin and Hobbes” by “Broom Hilda” and “Funky Winkerbean”. That means that it’s garbage, and the comics page is useful for naught save the lining of my rodents’ and birds’ cages. And, as I own neither rodents nor birds, the comics page is in fact good for nothing. A fair judgment, by Watterson’s standards.

To be clear, if it was just that strip, I would have no problem with it. There are places where comics can “have the piss taken out of them,” and the Most Common Superpower is one. I’ll laugh at that, sure. Nina Dowd in “Young Justice” is goofy, fun stuff. It’s the comment beneath it. As I said, it (really, in line with wooly whatsit, the whole 10th Anniversary book, learning about the guy behind the strip) really colors the whole “Calvin and Hobbes” reading experience for me. Unlike wooly whatsit, I find it damaging to the strip as a whole, because it casts, in particular, Calvin’s language and viewpoints in a highly cynical light for me. And a LOT of the strip is Calvin’s language and viewpoints.

That being said, I like those “Pants are Overrated” followups, 26 years later. I like that Hobbes remembers playing with Calvin, keeping that spirit of “is he real, or isn’t he?” alive and well. It’s good stuff.

Also, Paul, I don’t see why you think I’m not sincere in my issues with reading “Calvin and Hobbes” based off of that first post. Do you in fact know what “doth protest too much” means?

Websites like CBR, Newsarama.
Writers like JMS, Grant Morrison, Kevin Smith.
Comments like “Placing her on the table, to me anyway, takes me out of the moment.” and long winded speeches on The Flash in retaliation to BW’s remarks…

are all really shining testaments to Watterson’s point about superhero comic books.

The “medium” of comic books isn’t a medium so much as a shadow of a shadow of a potentially great medium in skintight outfits, ultraviolence, ham-fisted allegory and esoteric references exclusively sold in the direct market to an aging petulant fanbase and has been skewing that way since not too long before he wrote said remarks.

Watterson will probably be still be chillin’, enjoying life and painting landscapes with his dad while fanboys cry about who’s brain got switched with who before a reboot.

Bill Watterson wrote his indictment of superhero comics in the early ’90s.

Rob Liefeld.

Need I say more?

Thanks for featuring my suggestion! And let me congratulate you on saving it for the anniversary of the strip’s debut (I noticed the date, even if no one else did!)

You forgot the debut of Calvin pissing on a logo ;)

Actually, the debut of GROSs (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) would be a good one.

Hell, C&H was such a great strip. If Mike Loughlin and Jake Earlewine’s fave strips were this, Far Side and Bloom County, I’m guessing they’re around my age (30s), as those are 3 of my favorites too. They were all so good. The comics page as it stands is a poorer place without any of them. Sadly, Peanuts reruns (and Rerun, if you will) outshine too many strips in my local paper.

“The “medium” of comic strips isn’t a medium so much as a shadow of a shadow of a potentially great medium in outdated characters, soap opera drama, ham-fisted humor and esoteric situations exclusively sold in a dying medium to an aging petulant fanbase and has been skewing that way since not too long before he wrote said remarks.”

There, fixed it for ya.

The point wasn’t that there isn’t legitimate criticism to be made; just that he’s a hypocrite for making them while simultaneously praising the medium he works in that’s really a kindred soul.

I am an ultimate true Calvin and Hobbes fan, just so you know.

Calvin and Hobbes, what a cartoon strip! I never tire of their adventures.

i love these cartoon strips the awesome

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