This is an early collection of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips featuring several Sunday coloured page. This book covers the period from April 11, 1991 to November 1, 1992. Calvin is full of himself and tries to negotiate his space in a world he shares with his parents, Suzie the girl next door, and Hobbes his imaginary pet tiger. Is the world safe from Calvin’s imagination?
In this volume, Watterson follows a few formulas. He draws several stand alone comic strips without any continuity to one another and often interrupts them with longer narrative that have self contained stories but part of a larger plot. Something which I’m not sure if it bothers me or not is the way he ends many last panels with a supplementary comment, which is not necessary, but adds a layer of oddness to the punch line. Often Hobbes is the one carrying this comment and it almost appears as if the characters are talking to each other but not really listening what the other has to say. For example, in a strip where Calvin complains about his dad forcing him to do his home works while he claims that he wants to learn when he’ll be old, Hobbes responds that Calvin has already learned something. The joke is not bad, but it seems that two punch lines were necessary to convey a greater story. It leaves some nuances that alter the intensity of the original punch line and negates any clear cut or single mind conclusion. It is not always Hobbes who delivers the secondary punch lines, as the role is often reversed, but it does make the carrier of the second joke, a sidekick of the original character that serves as a reflection, instead of a full-fledge character. This leads to the question as to how develop was the sense of comedic timing of Watterson.
Visually, I really like the storyboard like motion behind the characters. Watterson’s strength is making us believe we are reading a motion comic or an animated cartoon, while keeping within the boundaries of a comic strip. This is easier to witness however, in the Sunday pages, which play with the very page layout, like in a comic book, unlike the regular daily strips.
This is an old collection that has been reprinted several times, and thus will not be too difficult to find in a local bookstore or online.