|Born||William Boyd Watterson II
July 5, 1958
Washington, D.C., USA
|Known for||Calvin and Hobbes
|Spouse(s)||Melissa Richmond (October 8, 1983 – present)|
William "Bill" Boyd Watterson II (born July 5, 1958) is an American artist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated from 1985 to 1995. Watterson stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes at the end of 1995 with a short statement to newspaper editors and his readers that he felt he had achieved all he could in the medium. Watterson is known for his views on licensing and comic syndication, and his move back into private life after drawing Calvin and Hobbes came to a close.
Early years and education 
Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, James G. Watterson (born 1932), worked as a patent examiner while going to George Washington University Law School before becoming a patent attorney in 1960.
In 1964, when Watterson was six years old, the family moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where his mother, Kathryn Watterson, became a city council member. James Watterson was elected as a council member in 1997, holding that position for 12 years before retiring on August 31, 2009 to pursue artistic "projects and goals".
Watterson, who drew his first cartoon at age eight, spent much time in childhood alone, drawing and cartooning. This continued through his school years, and he drew cartoons for his high school newspaper and yearbook. During this time he discovered comic strips like Pogo, Krazy Kat, and Charles Schulz' Peanuts which subsequently inspired and influenced his desire to become a professional cartoonist. His parents recall him as a very quiet and unassuming child, who would spend hours drawing in his room:
"He was a conservative child, not that he was unimaginative, because of course he was. But not in a fantasy way. He and his brother (Tom) would make time-lapse movies and that certainly showed a certain amount of imagination. And he would draw his characters. But he was nothing like Calvin. He didn't have an imaginary friend like Hobbes, and he wasn't a Dennis the Menace."
— James G. Watterson
From 1976 to 1980, Watterson attended Kenyon College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, while developing his art skills and contributing cartoons to the college newspaper. Many of the cartoons and art Watterson did at Kenyon can be found online. These comics were the original "Spaceman Spiff" cartoons.
Jim Borgman had graduated from Kenyon before Watterson arrived, but his work as a political cartoonist so impressed Bill that he decided to pursue a career as one himself. Borgman worked at The Cincinnati Post and encouraged and advised Watterson through his student years.
“By standing on a chair, I could reach the ceiling, and I taped off a section, made a grid, and started to copy the picture from my art history book. Working with your arm over your head is hard work, so a few of my more ingenious friends rigged up a scaffold for me by stacking two chairs on my bed, and laying the table from the hall lounge across the chairs and over to the top of my closet. By climbing up onto my bed and up the chairs, I could hoist myself onto the table, and lie in relative comfort two feet under my painting. My roommate would then hand up my paints, and I could work for several hours at a stretch.
The picture took me months to do, and in fact, I didn't finish the work until very near the end of the school year. I wasn't much of a painter then, but what the work lacked in color sense and technical flourish, it gained in the incongruity of having a High Renaissance masterpiece in a college dorm that had the unmistakable odor of old beer cans and older laundry.”
Later, when Watterson was creating names for the characters in his comic strip, he allegedly decided upon Calvin (after the Protestant reformer John Calvin) and Hobbes (after the social philosopher Thomas Hobbes) as a "tip of the hat" to the political science department at Kenyon. Since he has never confirmed this, the story is usually considered apocryphal. In "The Complete Calvin And Hobbes," Watterson does not name the inspiration for Calvin's character, but he does say Calvin is named for "a 16th-century theologian who believed in predestination," and Hobbes for "a 17th-century philosopher with a dim view of human nature." There seems to be little doubt that this could only be John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, respectively.
Early career 
The agreement was that they could fire me, or I could quit with no questions asked if things didn't work out during the first few months. Sure enough, things didn't work out, and they fired me, no questions asked.
My guess is that the editor wanted his own Jeff MacNelly (a Pulitzer winner at 24), and I didn't live up to his expectations. My Cincinnati days were pretty Kafkaesque. I had lived there all of two weeks, and the editor insisted that most of my work be about local, as opposed to national, issues. Cincinnati has a weird, three-party, city manager government, and by the time I figured it out, I was standing in the unemployment lines. I didn't hit the ground running. Cincinnati at that time was also beginning to realize it had major cartooning talent in Jim Borgman at the city's other paper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and I didn't benefit from the comparison.
— Watterson explaining his short career with the Cincinnati Post
During the early years of his career he produced several drawings and additional contributions for Target: The Political Cartoon Quarterly. He designed grocery advertisements for four years prior to creating Calvin and Hobbes.
Rise to success 
Watterson has said he works for personal fulfillment. As he told the graduating class of 1990 at Kenyon College, "It's surprising how hard we'll work when the work is done just for ourselves." Calvin and Hobbes was first published on November 18, 1985. In Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, he wrote that his influences included Charles Schulz for Peanuts; Walt Kelly for Pogo and George Herriman for Krazy Kat. Watterson wrote the introduction to the first volume of The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat. Watterson's style also reflects the influence of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Like many artists, Watterson incorporated elements of his life, interests, beliefs and values into his work—for example, his hobby as a cyclist, memories of his own father’s speeches about ‘building character’, and his views on merchandising and corporations. Watterson's cat, Sprite, very much inspired the personality and physical features of Hobbes.
Watterson spent much of his career trying to change the climate of newspaper comics. He believed that the artistic value of comics was being undermined, and that the space they occupied in newspapers continually decreased, subject to arbitrary whims of shortsighted publishers. Furthermore, he opined that art should not be judged by the medium for which it is created (i.e., there is no "high" art or "low" art—just art).
Fight against merchandising the cartoon characters 
Watterson battled against pressure from publishers to merchandise his work, something he felt would cheapen his comic. He refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that displaying Calvin and Hobbes images on commercially sold mugs, stickers and T-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities. Despite this, many unofficial knockoffs have been found, including college T-shirts which show Calvin and Hobbes binge drinking or Calvin urinating on a logo.
Reuben Award 
Watterson was awarded the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988 and the society's Reuben Award in 1986; he was the youngest person ever to receive the latter award. In 1988, Watterson received the Reuben Award a second time. He was nominated a third time in 1992.
Watterson wrote a brief, tongue-in-cheek autobiography in the late 1980s.
From September 10, 2001, to January 16, 2002, Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum exhibited 36 of his Sunday strips, all of which can be seen in 2001's Calvin and Hobbes: The Sunday Pages 1985-1995.
End of Calvin and Hobbes 
Watterson announced the end of Calvin and Hobbes on November 9, 1995, with the following letter to newspaper editors:
I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the year. This was not a recent or an easy decision, and I leave with some sadness. My interests have shifted, however, and I believe I've done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises. I have not yet decided on future projects, but my relationship with Universal Press Syndicate will continue.
That so many newspapers would carry Calvin and Hobbes is an honor I'll long be proud of, and I've greatly appreciated your support and indulgence over the last decade. Drawing this comic strip has been a privilege and a pleasure, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity.
The last strip of Calvin and Hobbes was published on December 31, 1995.
Since the end of Calvin and Hobbes 
Since the conclusion of Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson has taken up painting, at one point drawing landscapes of the woods with his father. Watterson has kept away from the public eye and has given no indication of resuming the strip, creating new works based on the characters, or embarking on other projects, though he has published several anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes strips.
He will not sign autographs or license his characters, staying true to his stated principles. In previous years, he was known to sneak autographed copies of his books onto the shelves of the Fireside Bookshop, a family-owned bookstore in his home of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. However, after discovering that some people were selling the autographed books online for high prices, he ended this practice as well. Valuing privacy, he is very reluctant to give interviews or make public appearances. His lengthiest interview was featured as the cover story in The Comics Journal #127 in the late 1980s. He drew a new Calvin and Hobbes cover for that issue of the magazine as well.
In the years that followed the end of Calvin and Hobbes, there were many attempts to locate Watterson in his home town of Chagrin Falls. Both The Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Scene sent reporters in 1998 and 2003 respectively but were unable to locate him. In 2005, Gene Weingarten from The Washington Post was sent a gift of a first edition Barnaby book as an incentive for Watterson's cooperation. He passed this, along with a message, to Watterson's parents and declared he would wait in the hotel for as long as it took Watterson to contact him. The next day, Watterson's editor Lee Salem called to tell him that the cartoonist would not be coming.
On December 21, 1999 a short piece, written by Watterson to mark the forthcoming end of the comic strip Peanuts, was published in the Los Angeles Times. In October 2005, Watterson answered 15 questions submitted by readers. In October 2007, Watterson wrote a review of Schulz and Peanuts, a biography of Charles Schulz, in The Wall Street Journal. In 2008, he provided a foreword for the first book collection of Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac comic strip.
In early 2010, Watterson was interviewed by The Plain Dealer on the 15th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes. Explaining his decision to discontinue the strip, he said,
This isn't as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of ten years, I'd said pretty much everything I had come there to say. It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, ten, or twenty years, the people now "grieving" for Calvin and Hobbes would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them. I think some of the reason Calvin and Hobbes still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it. I've never regretted stopping when I did.
In April 2011, a representative for Andrews McMeel received a package from a "William Watterson in Cleveland Heights, Ohio", which contained a 6" x 8" oil-on-board painting of Cul De Sac character Petey Otterloop, done by Watterson for the Team Cul de Sac fundraising project for Parkinson's Disease. His syndicate, which has since become Universal Uclick, has said that the painting was the first new artwork from Watterson that the syndicate has seen since Calvin and Hobbes ended in 1995.
Changing the format of the Sunday strip 
Watterson opposed the structure publishers imposed on Sunday newspaper cartoons: the standard cartoon starts with a large, wide rectangle featuring the cartoon's logo or a throwaway panel tangential to the main area so that newspapers pressed for space can remove the top third of the cartoon if they wish; the rest of the strip is presented in a series of rectangles of different widths. In Watterson's opinion, this format limited the cartoonist's options of allowable presentation. After his sabbatical year in 1991 he managed to gain an exception to these constraints for Calvin and Hobbes, allowing him to draw his Sunday strip the way he wanted. In many, panels overlap or contain their own panels; in some, the action progresses diagonally across the strip.
- 1986: Reuben Award, Cartoonist of the Year
- 1988: Reuben Award, Cartoonist of the Year
- 1988: National Cartoonists Society, Newspaper Comic Strips Humor Award
- 1988: Sproing Award, for Tommy og Tigern (Calvin and Hobbes)
- 1989: Harvey Award, Special Award for Humor, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1990: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1990: Max & Moritz Prize, Best Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1991: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1991: Adamson Award, for Kalle och Hobbe (Calvin and Hobbes)
- 1992: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1992: Eisner Award, Best Comic Strip Collection, for The Revenge of the Baby-Sat
- 1992: Angoulême International Comics Festival, Prize for Best Foreign Comic Book, for En avant tête de thon!
- 1992: Eisner Award, Best Comic Strip Collection, for Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons
- 1993: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1994: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1995: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- 1996: Harvey Award, Best Syndicated Comic Strip, for Calvin and Hobbes
- Christian, Barbara (2009). "Veteran Chagrin councilman announces retirement". Chagrin Valley Times. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
- Tim Hulsizer (2002). "A Short Biography of Bill Watterson". Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). The Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, p. 17. Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, Missouri. ISBN 0-7407-7794-7
- <Borgman>, Jim (1995). "Introduction by Bill Watterson". Disturbing the Peace.
- Andrew Christie (1987). "Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes on cartooning, syndicates, Garfield, Charles Schulz, and editors". Honk Magazine, Issue 2. Archived from the original on 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2006-03-17.
- Bill Watterson (2005). "Introduction". The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Andrew McMeel. pp. 491 (Book 1). ISBN 0-7407-4847-5.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews and McMeel. p. 21. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
- "Winsor McCay: Little Nemo; Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend". Bob's Comics Reviews. November 1996.
- Winsor McCay, Richard Marschall (1987). "An Incredible Ride To the End: An appreciation by Bill Watterson". The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. p. 195. ISBN 1-55670-647-2. Retrieved 2006-03-17.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews and McMeel. p. 173. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews and McMeel. p. 22. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
- Bill Watterson (1995). The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews McMeel. p. 208. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
- Bill Watterson (1989-10-27). "The Cheapening of the Comics". Festival of Cartoon Art, Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 2006-02-10. Retrieved 2006-03-17.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews and McMeel. p. 10. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
- "Reuben Award Winners 1946-Present". National Cartoonist Society. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- Bill Watterson. "The Brief Tongue-in-Cheek Autobiography of Bill Watterson". Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- "Calvin and Hobbes creator stays out of view, even at debut of collected strips". 2005-10-24.
- Tucker, Neely (4 Oct. 2005), "The Tiger Strikes Again", The Washington Post.
- Milicia, Joe (22 Oct. 2005), Calvin and Hobbes Creator Keeps Privacy, Associated Press.
- Bill Watterson (1999-12-21). "Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2006-03-17.
- "Fans From Around the World Interview Bill Watterson". Andrews McMeel. 2005-10-04. Retrieved 2006-03-17.
- Bill Watterson (2007-10-12). "The Grief That Made 'Peanuts' Good". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- John Campanelli (2010-02-01). "Bill Watterson, creator of beloved 'Calvin and Hobbes' comic strip looks back with no regrets". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Washington Post: "THIS JUST IN: First new art from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ creator in 16 years, syndicate says", April 22, 2011.
- Watterson, Bill (1995). Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. Andrews and McMeel. p. 14. ISBN 0-8362-0438-7.
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