Jul 5, 2022Liked by Blaise Lucey

I don't see C&H ever going out of print, or vanishing from the public interest; for kids like us who grew up in these worlds, our books will always be heirloom objects, and we'll always want to transmit the magic to our own children. I think this is the legacy that Watterson had in mind, and the one he strove to create. The man was a crank, but he knew what he was about.

I also think Watterson intuited his hero's contradictions made the most sense on the page. Calvin is by turns an avatar for slack-jawed consumerism, an impulsive solipcist, a terrible son, AND a compassionate nature-lover full of whimsy and imaginative/philosophical yearnings. Keeping all those plates spinning was a magic act, and one which Watterson probably felt he could only do through his chosen medium.

It's interesting to posit a world where Bill had a separate relationship to syndication, though. The idea of syndication-as-fan-service could've taken the ideas present in the strip down some interesting avenues, and I'd be hella down for a Tracer Bullet LARP.

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Jun 28, 2022Liked by Blaise Lucey

We need this thank you

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The problem with this is that with mass market commercialization you end up with a crass de-sacralization of the core text. Look at Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. First you have Jackson's trilogy which decent paled in comparison to the text and cheapened it with nonsense like Legolas bouncing around, which led to The Hobbit movies which were unwatchable garbage and spawned Denny's Hobbit Brunches and finally to the ultimate cheapening of it becoming a streaming Amazon action show. It's the Funko Popification cheapening and removal of depth that concerns me.

Of course you do have a point. Will this material die without the commercialization? I don't know, maybe. But I like to think that it will survive to inspire others to create better and more time relevant work when they discover it, instead of saturating the world with ever cheaper dull versions of itself.

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Wow, we have such different understandings about art! First of all, I don't see art as a way to teach lessons, but as a way to show human experience. Second, we've been creating art since before money existed, so it doesn't make sense to me to think of art in terms of money or the size of its audience. There is more to life than markets. I think Bill Watterson would have made himself absolutely miserable if he compromised his personal standards by selling out, and, you know what, artists are people. Our crafts are incredibly personal journeys that require time, effort, and vulnerability. Therefore, I don't think it's fair to ask an artist to sacrifice their integrity and their well being in order to spread a message to as many people as possible.

But would Watterson's message even get out on any meaningful level if he had commercialized Calvin and Hobbes? The impact of more junk in our stores and more people getting paid to design that junk and more people spending more money to buy said junk would certainly undercut the comic's entire philosophy. How many of the people buying hypothetical Calvin and Hobbes merch or watching a TV adapation would actually think about what the story is saying? A larger audience doesn't mean that they're all engaging with the work beyond the surface level.

Honestly, I like that Watterson's decision puts the pressure on us to keep this lovely story alive. If we want future generations to remember Calvin and Hobbes, we have to share it with them. Watterson already did plenty by creating art that brightened our childhoods. The least we can do is pass it forward.

Thank you for the article, I found it very thought provoking, even though (or rather because) we disagree!

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Sep 2, 2022Liked by Blaise Lucey

God, I loved this strip so much as a kid. I must've read every single one at least ten times, and many of them more than that. What I wouldn't give to read them all again for the first time.

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Great post! Watterson's perspective reminds me of Alan Moore, who famously requested to remove his name from all of the film/TV adaptations of V for Vendetta and Watchmen. Moore's point was that these commercial re-creations either misinterpreted or diminished the philosophies he meticulously presented in his graphic novels.

I'm a huge fan of both Moore and Watterson and respect their right to decide their relationship with their works. But it does bring up a few questions for me: are original creators the only determinants of what constitutes a legitimate adaptation to a new medium? What about the fans? And for works with an inherently anti-commercial philosophy, like C&H or V for Vendetta, how can we adapt them to historically commercialized mediums but in independent, anti-commercial, and even subversive ways?

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