The title alone will get mixed reactions from some. For more than a few, they will share in my feelings. Others will think I have something more wrong with me than usual. Others will say "Wasn't That a Comic Strip in the 90s?" (Just kidding... almost everyone will know what I'm talking about).
This decade-long monument to thinking outside the box was quite profound to me as a child. I was born the year it premiered in newspapers and I started reading the comic strip at 6 years old. Immediately it took effect. Aside from the amazing visuals that held me captivated with "static pictures" in a way no movie or television show ever could, it also started to change my way of thinking.
If I ever came across a word I didn't understand (quite often in such a verbose work) I would quickly run to my family's dictionary to find out what it meant. So, unwittingly, it helped me improve my reading and comprehension skills. I was always in advanced reading classes in Elementary school and even now I read very quickly and comprehend with the same level of speed... and I owe it to Calvin & Hobbes.
It also opened my eyes to the wonder of Comic Books. Many have stated that comic strips are a gateway drug to comic books and graphic novels and when you have such an unbelievable jumping off point, it's far easier. Having older brothers who were, in the case of my eldest bro, obsessed with comics also helped.... but Calvin & Hobbes allowed me to make that leap.
Even my imagination was helped by this "simple" comic strip. The story about a 6 year old boy who creates entire worlds in his mind showed me that it was okay to let my imagination run wild, but in every story, they showed there is a real world side to Calvin's life as well. And even though I wouldn't always understand some of the theoretical discussions unfolding in front of my eyes until many years later, it did make me want to understand the real world more. So I always had one foot in the fantastic and one foot in the everyday, and I have to thank Calvin & Hobbes for that.
Finally, Calvin & Hobbes affected my sense of humor. At 6 years old, I laughed at the visual jokes and the easily understood humor (The Word "Booger" is still funny to me to this day) and as I reached 12 and 13 (reading the collections in book form after the strip ended its run) I started finding all of the other jokes funny. It showed me that "juvenile" humor can be intelligent and that, if you can walk that fine line, you can create something that connects to everyone. And the show that I perform today is one that I can play for audiences of all ages because I learned that no audience should be treated like idiots. Bill Watterson refused to insult my intelligence at 6, at 16, and even now... so I pass that courtesy on to my audiences (at least, I hope I'm not insulting their intelligence).
The collected, hardcover-bound edition of Calvin & Hobbes graces my shelf (in its weight-belt-required-to-lift glory) which I received as a gift from my brothers the year it came out. And I will often look through it to laugh, to enjoy, and to even be inspired. I recently heard about a movie trying to be made on Bill Watterson's life and the effect his work had on the world called Dear Mr. Watterson and I am greatly looking forward to it.
If you haven't experienced Calvin & Hobbes, you can read strips online here:
Does this seem like a love letter to a comic strip? You bet your ass it is. And it truly is the least I could do.