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Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip Paperback – 19 Aug 2010
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Martell, who wears his fan heart on his sleeve, travels far and wide to gather pieces of Watterson lore. He interviews former syndicate employees, comic strip artists from the past and present, and some of Watterson's closest confidants. By doing so, Martell walks a fine line between diligent journalist and obsessive fan. But his journey is a reminder that some things can't be recaptured, no matter how much we may wish otherwise."" --The New York Times
About the Author
Nevin Martell is the author of Standing Small: A Celebration of 30 Years of the LEGO Minifigure, Dave Matthews Band: Music for the People and Beck: The Art of Mutation. He is a Contributing Editor at Filter magazine and his music journalism has appeared in Paste, Giant, Men's Health, High Times, and Flaunt, as well as online at RollingStone.com. Currently, he lives with his wife in Washington, DC, where he writes full time. You can find him online at www.nevinmartell.com.
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Yes, I realise this is most likely due to copyright reasons, but to have an entire book dedicated to a brilliant cartoonist as well as interviews with countless other cartoonists who were inspired by him, and not least references to how they were inspired and where one can see this inspiration without a single ACTUAL illustration is just odd. The history of the strip itself was interesting, but without the chance to see what the author is describing, it's like watching Up (1 Disc) [DVD]  with your eyes closed. Sure, the dialogue is great, but it's really only half the experience.
As it is, he isn't, they don't and the book is poorer for it. Martell does what he can with the material available to him (most of Watterson's quotes come from the forwards to his books) but how on earth do you write a book about a man who just doesn't want to play the fame game and when there's so little to say? Now don't get me wrong, fans of Calvin and Hobbes have no right to tell Watterson how he should behave, that's up to him, but that doesn't stop them wanting to know something about the man. I love Calvin and Hobbes. The artistry, the imagination, the insight, the wit, it all hangs together beautifully. But I just wish I could like Watterson more. He says he doesn't want people to think him a grouch, but when his all public utterances are nothing but grouch (and the reports of his outspoken lectures at various conferences are the most interesting passages in the book), one can't help getting the feeling that he is one and I'm sorry to say it but that's damaging the way I feel about the strip.
Watterson's refusal to allow his work to be merchandised and slapped on lunchboxes and bedlinen is to be applauded; it's quite remarkable given the fortune he stood to make. However, it is a shame when it has presumably resulted in this book having to be published without any illustrations. Martell references several strips and much of Watterson's pre-Calvin and Hobbes work, but we never see any of it. Prototype versions of Calvin can apparently be seen in Watterson's earlier work, but we'll just have to take Martell's word for it. The dead racoon sequence, the freak-show snowmen, the death-defying toboggan rides, they're all mentioned, but if you don't know Calvin and Hobbes intimately, the references will be lost on you. It's a shame because I don't think the integrity of the strip would have been harmed one iota by their inclusion.
So, a pleasurable but ultimately unrevealing read. Maybe we'll all have to wait until Father Time does his work to find out anything more.
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I didn't even finish it.
Someone writing about Bill Watterson with out ever meeting him.