Secondary characters in Calvin and Hobbes

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Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes features a wide range of secondary characters. These range from his fellow students at school to monsters and aliens from Calvin's vivid imagination.

Calvin's family[edit]

Calvin's parents
Comic strip(s) Calvin and Hobbes
Creator(s) Bill Watterson
First appearance (Dad) November 18, 1985

(Mom) November 26, 1985

Watterson has never given Calvin's parents names "because as far as the strip is concerned, they are important only as Calvin's mom and dad." [1] However, Watterson sometimes uses them to explore situations adults can relate to, such as the desire to enjoy leisure time as opposed to the need to work, or bad customer service and frustrations when grocery shopping. Also, occasionally Watterson takes the time to flesh out the two parental characters. One example is a storyline in which the family returns from a wedding to find their house has been broken into and ransacked. For several strips, Calvin and Hobbes fade into the background as Mom and Dad reflect on the impact of the event.

Early on in the strip, Watterson says, they were criticized by readers for being overly sarcastic and insufficiently patient, especially Calvin's father, who has several times reminded his wife that he at first, wanted a dog instead of a son. Calvin's mother has been hinted to have possibly wanted a girl, and at one point, Calvin's antics frustrated them so much that they acted like they were sorry to have had him. Later strips would depict Calvin's parents being more demonstrative of their love for their son, while still being driven crazy by his trouble; for example, When Calvin wanders off at the zoo, his father says, as he goes to look for him, "Being a parent means wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time." In another strip, Calvin wakes his mother up at 12:00 AM to ask if love is nothing but "a biochemical reaction to make sure our genes get passed on". Irritated because he woke her up in the middle of the night, she responds with: "Whatever it is, it's what's keeping me from strangling you right now".

Calvin's parents drive a purple or maroon subcompact hatchback similar to an early 1980s Honda Civic or Volkswagen Golf. This may be because Bill Watterson drove a Civic himself. The car is the setting of family trips, and is occasionally the victim of Calvin's mischief, such as the long story where he accidentally pushes the car into a ditch. The car is usually drawn as bouncing along the road as it drives, to give it the illusion of motion. There may also be another car, as in one strip, when Calvin's parents went out to dinner (Rosalyn appeared), Hobbes suggested they learn to drive "using the other car". But in another strip, Calvin attempted to play hooky from school, and after his mother captured him, she said his father would be late for work because she had to drive Calvin to school (which could not happen if there was a second car). It is possible that the car was broken down, and that the car wasn't mentioned.

Calvin's father[edit]

Calvin's father is a patent attorney, portrayed to the reader as an upstanding middle-class father despite how his son may see him. An outdoorsman, he enjoys bike rides and camping trips, sometimes in extreme weather and insists that these activities, like Calvin's chores, "build character".

When Calvin asks him questions, he often makes up sarcastically outlandish answers and presents them as facts. For example, Calvin's father once said that the wind is caused by trees sneezing (though when asked if this was true, he responded, "No, but the truth is more complicated."), and that light bulbs and vacuum cleaners work by magic. Calvin always appears to believe the answers, despite his mother's reactions, as Calvin said, "I take it there's no qualifying exam to be a dad". It is interesting to note that to be a patent attorney traditionally requires a natural science or engineering bachelor's degree preceding the usual Juris Doctor needed to practice any other branch of law — something Watterson would know, as his own father was a patent attorney — and therefore, Calvin's father presumably does know the real answers to his son's questions but whether or not this is true would depend on what inventions Calvin's father represents. There are occurrences when the reader should assume that "Dad" really does know the answers and decides to mislead Calvin purposefully. For example, when Calvin asked his father where babies come from, he was told that most people assembled babies from a kit that could be purchased at Sears. Calvin's father told his son that he was a "Blue Light Special at Kmart, almost as good and a lot cheaper."[2]

This playful streak allows him to find occasional moments of solace with Calvin, and it is implied that Calvin's father may have been like Calvin in his youth. Calvin has described his traditionalist father as "the most boring Dad in the world" (after he refuses to throw an entire can of lighter fluid into a campfire). Though apparently a believer in traditional values, Calvin's father may also have been a party animal in college: in one strip, Calvin is looking through his father's college yearbook and finds a picture of him standing next to a keg, wearing a "Party Naked" T-shirt (upon which his father hurriedly grabs the yearbook away);[3] in another strip, Calvin's father defined "the ol’ college try" as, "when you gather your friends, grab some cheap beer, order a pizza, and forget about tomorrow."

Calvin seems not to understand why his father occupies this position, and assumes that it is an elected position. He frequently presents his father with his polls and lectures him about his public image. There were several strips with Calvin saying that his father's popularity is slipping; in one strip, Calvin fantasized what the papers will look like when his father is defeated in the next election. His father pays little attention to Calvin's campaigning — especially since the polls invariably focus on the 6-year-old-male and stuffed-tiger demographics.

Watterson occasionally used Calvin's father to comment on various aspects of adulthood. The latter seems frustrated with the constant rat race and struggle to get ahead, and is ambivalent about America's consumer culture, once commenting that pitching the day's allotment of junk mail make him a "terrorist" for not "buying distractions from a simple life". Calvin's father seems happiest when he is riding his bike or sitting in the backyard watching the sunset, enjoying peace and quiet, and is sometimes seen spending time with Calvin. Ironically, he sometimes goes to the office to escape Calvin when the latter is up to trouble (and on some occasions his wife as well). Not to be evaded, Calvin tracks down his father on the phone and frequently brags about how Calvin and his mother get to relax during summer whereas he has to work at the office.

The character is based on Watterson's own father,[1] who was also a patent attorney, and often told his family that unpleasant things "built character". As can be gleaned from a photograph and self-caricatures of Watterson, Calvin's father bears a striking resemblance to the cartoonist himself, who sports a mustache. Watterson has said that he identifies more with this character than with Calvin.

Calvin's father seems to be reluctant to accept modern technology, and has shown great distaste for television on occasion. Calvin has mentioned that his dad prefers communication by mail, and Hobbes has remarked, "Of course, your dad thinks transportation should've stopped with the bicycle." Calvin pointed out that his dad has neglected to buy a VCR, which at one point led to his dad saying "How cruelly we mistreat you, Calvin." and giving Calvin a copy of Oliver Twist. When Calvin wondered why they didn't have a computer, Calvin's dad responded "It's bad enough that we have a telephone." Calvin's mom has pointed this out too: in one strip, she and Calvin return home from a kids' matinée, Calvin's father asks Calvin "How was the kiddy matinée movie?"—Calvin vaguely remembers that he saw a movie and stated it was OK; when Calvin's mother enters, visibly worn out from whatever antics took place, she grabs the front of his shirt and angrily tells him "We ... are ... buying ... a video player."[4]

Calvin's mother[edit]

Calvin's mother is a stay-at-home mom who is frequently exasperated by Calvin's antics. Before Calvin's birth, she worked a stressful job filled with aggravation, which Calvin's father claims is the reason she was better prepared to stay at home and raise Calvin. Whether or not he was jesting is debatable. On the rare occasions when she is not reacting to Calvin's misbehavior, she seems to enjoy quiet activities, such as gardening and reading. She is frequently the one forced to curb Calvin's destructive tendencies; in one Sunday strip, she allows Calvin to smoke a cigarette in order to teach him how unpleasant smoking can be.[5] She also usually seems sympathetic towards her son's relationship with Hobbes, and a few times has found herself speaking to Hobbes as well, though this embarrasses her. She has even called out to Hobbes once the same way Calvin did when she was looking for him, perhaps implying that, like her husband, Calvin's mother also has her own moments of playful imagination, despite generally being a straight-laced adult.

Watterson has said he regrets the fact that the strip mostly shows her impatient side. She is sometimes seen kicking Calvin out the front door whenever he dramatically annoys her, but he also tried to show other aspects of her personality by what she is doing when Calvin invades. She keeps a clean house, as she is occasionally found refinishing furniture or painting the walls. She also seems to have an active social life, writing letters and leaving phone messages for friends, even inviting friends over for tea on occasion. Needless to say, Calvin tends to interfere with these things.

Although Calvin's behavior drives his mother crazy (Calvin once quipped "another day, another gray hair for Mom!"), she still loves him very much. When Calvin was lost on a trip to the zoo, she became sick with worry, and was thrilled when his dad brought him back. When she becomes ill in another story, Calvin tries to tend to her like she does to him when he's sick. His mom says "No thanks" and Calvin replies with "It's hard to be a mom for a mom". Then she gets up and hugs Calvin, Saying "You do fine, sweetie". Calvin freaks out and tries to get away, fearing that his Mom might be contagious. In one strip, she is shown chasing Calvin shortly before bedtime, tickling him whenever she catches him; in the end, Calvin explains to his father, "Her plan backfired, Dad. I'm all wound up, and Mom needs to be put to bed."

She has also stepped in when his father goes too far with his own private jokes, going so far as to say "I know somebody who's going to get a lot of coal in his stocking, buster" after his dad tells him that the family will keep the undecorated Christmas tree in the garage and that Calvin might not get gifts. She frequently scolds her husband for his sarcasm in dealing with their son. She is also shown to be on Calvin's side when they go for their usual camping trips, complaining just as much as her son about these outings; says she, "a whole week without a newspaper or a decent cup of real coffee!" She can sometimes calm Calvin down when he is in a bad mood, offering peanut-butter crackers, comic books and other treats to cheer him up.[citation needed] Though she is almost always shown criticizing Calvin's behavior, it is revealed that she may have been problematic when she was a child as well. In one strip, she tells Calvin, "Someday I hope you have a kid that puts you through what I've gone through", to which Calvin replies, "Yeah, Grandma says that's what she used to tell you".[citation needed]

She, like Calvin's father, may have been a party animal in her college days. In one strip Calvin looks through a college yearbook and pictures and asks his father who the "bimbo" in the picture is, to which he responds "that ‘bimbo’ is your mother!".[6] This also implies that the two were fellow students and/or juvenile "crushes".

Calvin claims to dislike his mother's cooking, to the extent that she must trick him into eating it, often by telling him that it is something disgusting such as "monkey heads,"boiled guano", "spider pie", or "maggots", enticing him but disgusting her husband. Calvin's liking of the food depends on his mood and the activity that he'd rather be doing instead of eating, such as watching TV, though his main concern regards the appearance of the food itself. He would claim to love a dish one week, only to hate it the next week. In one strip, Calvin even claimed his mother used shrunken heads, an octopus, weed killer and white paint in one of the meals. In another strip, Calvin even gets the idea that his mother regurgitated the meal, having just seen a nature documentary where it explained that mother birds regurgitate their meal for their brood. Another example has Calvin fantasizing that his mother has doctored his meal, making it eat Calvin and spit out his skull, leading his parents to perform a celebratory dance.

Although she loves him very much, Calvin's mother has sometimes commented that she wanted a daughter instead of a son. In one instance, she has even blamed her husband for giving her the chromosome that determined Calvin's gender.[7] Calvin himself has even said that she thinks of this; after she turned down Calvin's offer of helping around the house with unnecessary carpentry, he stated: "Mom wanted a girl. I just know it."[citation needed]

Other relatives[edit]

Uncle Max[edit]

Calvin's Uncle Max appeared in a series of strips in 1988, visiting the family. Uncle Max is Calvin's father's "big brother". Like typical brothers, they often joke with each other. When Calvin (who first suspected he was a con man trying to swindle them) guesses that Max was in jail (to explain why he hasn't met Max), his mother is outraged, while his father seems to agree with Calvin, saying "with Max, that's not a bad guess". He seems to be more in tune to Calvin's interests than his parents. He seems to have a good relationship with children and does not take Calvin's jokes literally, which is the main reason why Calvin and Hobbes like him. On one occasion Max enters his room to find Calvin has dumped out his suitcase, believing Max brought him a present. Max, annoyed, asks, "Did your Mommy and Daddy raise you like this, or did they just untie you for this visit?"

Watterson has said Uncle Max was meant to be included in further strips, such as where the family would go to Max's home to pay him a visit; he never appeared again because Bill felt that it was strange for Max to be unable to refer to the parents with proper names, as Watterson never gave them any, and that the character never provided the new material for Calvin that he had hoped for.[8]

Grandparents[edit]

Calvin has a maternal grandmother and grandfather. A grandfather who smokes is mentioned, but it is unclear whether he is maternal or paternal. None appear in the strip, and are rarely mentioned.

A grandfather is mentioned during a scene on May 25, 1986, where Calvin smokes a cigarette (and winds up in a coughing fit). Before he does this, Calvin's Mom says, "I think your grandfather left some in the back." A reference was made to Calvin's maternal grandfather when Calvin is describing him, his comments echoing Bill Watterson's complaint that comic strips are too small and now look like Xeroxed talking heads. Hobbes then tells Calvin that his grandfather takes comic strips seriously; Calvin says as a result, his mother is looking into nursing homes for him, implying that this grandfather is maternal.[9]

Calvin's maternal grandmother is mentioned after Calvin misbehaved in the doctor's office, when his mother tells Calvin, "Someday I hope you have a kid who puts you through what I have gone through.", to which Calvin replies, "Yeah, Grandma says that's what she used to tell you." She is also mentioned when Calvin's mom is typing on a typewriter. Mom: "Who wrote 'Help I'm a bug' on my letter to Grandma?" In another strip, Calvin is writing a thank-you note to Grandma for sending him a box of crayons as a gift. Hobbes comments on the quickness of the note, and Calvin says "Yeah, I always write her a thank-you note right away...ever since she sent me that empty box with the sarcastic note saying she was just checking to see if the postal service was still working." Also, in another strip, Calvin makes "funny" expressions on his school pictures and comments that he can't wait for his mom to send his picture to Grandma.

Susie Derkins[edit]

Susie Derkins
Comic strip(s) Calvin and Hobbes
Creator(s) Bill Watterson
First appearance December 5, 1985

Susie Derkins is a classmate of Calvin who lives in his neighborhood. She is the only recurring character in the comic strip to have both a forename and a surname revealed. The only other characters in the whole strip to have be given both a given name and family name are some of Calvin's classmates, although each student is only seen or mentioned once. This is why Susie cannot be defined as the only character to have a first and second name. She is also the only character who aged in the strip. Named after Watterson's in-laws' family beagle,[1] she first appeared early in the strip as a new student in Calvin's class, but in later strips acts as if she has lived in Calvin's neighborhood for her entire life. In contrast to Calvin, she is polite and diligent in her studies, and her imagination usually seems mild-mannered and civilized, consisting of games such as playing "house" or having tea parties with her stuffed animals; Calvin considers them boring and dull. On one occasion, she played with a doll named Binky Betsy. Her parents have spoken in the strip several times but it is never confirmed that they appear in the panels, although her mom from the waist-down is seen in one strip.

During the strip's first years, Susie was seen wearing a skirt or overalls, and was drawn with a large round elliptical head, much like Charlie Brown's. Her appearance slightly changed over the years as Watterson's art evolved.

Susie and Calvin's relationship is a constant source of tension; she is frequently the victim of Calvin's derision and plots, and is also often willing to retaliate when provoked. Most commonly, Susie will be the target of Calvin's water balloons or snowballs. Calvin often goes to great lengths to disgust or annoy Susie, founding his and Hobbes' secret club, G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy GirlS) as a general anti-girl organization; but, almost invariably, Susie becomes the target of their harassment (either because of Calvin's rivalry with her or because of the more practical aspect that no other young-girl characters appear in the strip). Unfortunately for Calvin, Susie is his equal (and often superior) in cunning, often turning his plans into ignominious defeats. However, during a storyline where Calvin was debating over whether or not to join a baseball team, the two mildly spoke to each other over Calvin's dilemma while on a seesaw. Hobbes has a crush on Susie and can sometimes pressure Calvin into playing with her. Susie has a short temper, which is shown in several strips in which she beats up Calvin for simply throwing a single snowball or water balloon at her. She also possesses strength, as in one strip she picked up Calvin and carried him over to a giant snowball to dunk him in after he threw a snowball at her, and is apparently on the school's lacrosse team, as shown in one strip where Calvin throws a pine cone at her, only to have her return it at higher speed.

Watterson admits that Calvin and Susie have a bit of a crush on each other, and that Susie is inspired by the type of women he himself finds attractive. This love/hate relationship is most obvious early in the strip's evolution, particularly a Valentine's Day strip in which Susie seems to appreciate a rather juvenile gift Calvin gives her (a hate mail valentine and a bunch of dead flowers), and he rejoices inwardly when she acknowledges his efforts (albeit by throwing a snowball at him). Watterson, in retrospect, decided this was a bit heavy-handed, and resolved to simply let the two characters bounce off each other in future, to the point of practically removing any romantic subtext. During one series of strips Calvin modifies his "duplicator" to copy only his good side; this well-dressed, polite and very-intelligent version of Calvin soon becomes besotted with Susie, writing her love letters, and is mystified by her hostile reaction. Calvin once referenced their love/hate relationship in one strip after the two had just finished exchanging a barrage of insults, saying how it was "shameless the way we flirt." More than one strip indicates that Susie and Calvin are at least interested in being friends and playing with each other, these efforts usually started by Susie herself, though their interchanges usually end with Calvin breaking off character in exasperation; in one strip Susie has even expressed delight when Calvin invites her to his home to play, though it was only a ruse to infect her with his chicken pox (Calvin in turn, has played with Susie in her house more than once).

The two sometimes speak at their bus stop, with the usual result being that they both become exasperated with each other. Susie and Calvin also interact at the lunch table, where Calvin takes the opportunity to repulse her with disgusting descriptions of what his lunch contains (for example, a "cow pie" for dessert). One such strip, according to the Tenth-Anniversary retrospective, resulted in a newspaper canceling their subscription when Calvin pulled out his dessert: "Look, a thermos full of phlegm!" Another instance involves Calvin implementing a "great idea in action" by stuffing his entire lunch (a jelly sandwich and a banana) into his thermos of milk, shaking it up to form a rudimentary smoothie, and preparing to "choke it down" while Susie turns away in disgust. Once Calvin took the joke a bit too far, pouring his manicotti down his shirt and actually scaring her away from the table by pretending that they were his intestines falling out, then saying, "I should get some more and see if I can get out of math class."

At one point, she and Calvin were assigned to do a project on Mercury in which she writes about the planet and he writes about the mythology of Mercury. At the beginning of the story, Calvin complained about Susie's habit of eating each ingredient in her sandwich separately and concluded "It certifies you as a grade-A nimrod." Also, Susie was aggravated by Calvin's constant bouts of goofing off when he should have been getting research, including when he was drawing Martians which aggravated Susie to the point that she exclaims "It's no use! I'll have to go to a second-rate college because my idiot partner spent the study period drawing Martians!" to which Calvin attempts to cheer her up with a flip book in which a Martian eats an astronaut. Calvin also proclaimed that, when he gave his half of the report, that "a funny thing happened to him on the way to the library yesterday" to which Susie exclaims that it wasn't her fault. This was most likely an excuse for the low quality of Calvin's half of the report. It might or might not have been one of Calvin's bouts of mischief in which Susie was present, although he could have said that just to waste the time for the presentation of the report.

On some occasions, Susie does not take Calvin's attempting to hide from and alerting Susie about things (i.e., his bicycle and the snow goons) that were "out to get him" seriously. One time she remarked "Our class voted Calvin 'Most likely to be seen on the news someday'."

Mr. Bun[edit]

Mr. Bun is Susie's stuffed rabbit, which frequents her tea parties as a guest.

Unlike Hobbes, Mr. Bun is not depicted as possessing an alternate reality, and was once described by Hobbes as being comatose. (This is used for comedic effect occasionally, as when Susie, playing "House" with Calvin, attempts to use Mr. Bun as their baby child, only to have Calvin refuse to recognize him as a human infant—with the entire strip, including the rabbit, drawn in a realistic style à la Rex Morgan, M.D.) Likewise, Susie does not perceive Hobbes the same way Calvin does: in one week-long series of strips, Susie rescues Hobbes from a dog and serves the motionless toy tea alongside an equally-motionless Mr. Bun; Hobbes only "comes to life" when Calvin finds him at the tea party. It was also one of the few times Calvin treated Susie with respect; Calvin kisses Susie's hand, overjoyed at finding Hobbes; he does, however, steal her cookies.

Susie is aware that Hobbes is inanimate and she sometimes uses him to get through Calvin; Calvin "conspires" with Hobbes and tries to set up an ambush with water globes to attack Susie, only to realize that Susie has taken Hobbes' water balloons to attack him. Calvin's conclusion is that Hobbes betrays him in favor of women. She also would write invitations, cards and notes to Hobbes just to taunt Calvin, with Calvin almost invariably missing the point, which always leads to the usual repercussions between the both of them. In turn, Susie herself is not aware of how real Hobbes is to Calvin, which usually adds fuel to what was mentioned before.

Calvin, Susie and school bully Moe are the only children to appear with any frequency in Calvin and Hobbes, implying that Mr. Bun may well be Susie's only friend. This is evidenced in one strip where Susie invites Calvin to tea. Calvin, true to form, loudly refuses. Susie tries to pretend that Calvin's rejection was not worth worrying over, offering to refill Mr. Bun's teacup while commenting on the rudeness of "Mr. Calvin." Eventually, however, Calvin, supposedly at the advice of Hobbes, arrives at the party, to Susie's delight, defensively explaining, "We don't attend parties; we just crash 'em!" On another occasion, Calvin rudely dismisses Susie, then, at Hobbes' urging, apologizes and offers to let her play with them. Susie immediately declares that the game is "House", with herself as "the high-powered executive wife", Hobbes as her stay-at-home husband, and Calvin as their "bratty and brainless" child.

Miss Wormwood[edit]

Miss Wormwood
Comic strip(s) Calvin and Hobbes
Creator(s) Bill Watterson
First appearance November 21, 1985

Miss Wormwood is Calvin's world-weary teacher, named after the junior devil in C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.[1] She usually wears polka-dotted dresses, and is another character who serves as a foil to Calvin's mischief.

Although there is a large progression of time in the Calvin and Hobbes Universe (10 years), mainly exhibited by the changing seasons, every character seems to remain exactly the same age, with the exception of Susie who had a birthday party and turned from 5 years old to 6 plus. As a result, Calvin and Susie inexplicably return to Miss Wormwood's first-grade class every fall due to a repeating time-loop.

Miss Wormwood is rarely sympathetic to the trouble Calvin has in school, and comes across as a rather strict, sour character. She often calls on Calvin when no one raises their hand to catch him off guard. Calvin either replies with an excuse ("Hard to say, Ma'am. I think my cerebellum just fused."), or spaces out completely, usually taking solace in the world of one of his alter egos. She is quick to send Calvin to the principal's office at the first sign of trouble. Calvin apparently takes joy in being the reason why Miss Wormwood mixes different stress-related medications, drinks Maalox straight from the bottle, and is waiting for retirement (one strip has her chanting in her head, "Five years until retirement, five years until retirement, five years until retirement..."). In one particular strip, Calvin implies that she smokes ("They say she's up to two packs a day, unfiltered."). Regarding the difficulties of reining in rambunctious students, she once commented that "it's not enough that we have to be disciplinarians. Now we need to be psychologists."

Watterson has said that he feels a great deal of sympathy for Miss Wormwood. Given that the strip gives so much attention to playful imagination, she may represent the perspective of the "real world" and its frustrations in trying to adapt to or rein in such extreme creativity. Another strip had Calvin imagining that he has found himself on a sheet of his own notebook paper, but had the advantage of making use of his doodles, such as being able to drive a military tank he drew, which he uses to shell the school, but is unable to stop a gigantic, vicious Miss Wormwood in his drawing. The real Miss Wormwood confiscates Calvin's drawing, sarcastically commenting "Hand it over, Leonardo, and see me after class." Though frustrated by Calvin's antics, she seems to have become somewhat accepting of them. She once asked him what state he lived in, and received an answer of "Denial." Unable to respond to Calvin's confident answer, she sighed "Well, I don't suppose I can argue with that..." and walked away.

Outside of academics, Calvin has actually gotten in trouble for show and tell. In a strip, Calvin claims that he found a space alien which he feeds ammonia and keeps in a bag, then shows a snake-like alien emerging from the bag. The alien is actually only a sock puppet. In the final panel, Hobbes is shown later asking how the presentation went, to which Calvin replies that Miss Wormwood now demands both his parents must sign his report card next semester. On another occasion, Calvin pretends to be invisible for show and tell, and is in the process of removing his clothes in order to escape the room undetected when Ms. Wormwood grabs him, at which he cries "Lucky guess, Ms. Wormwood!"

Calvin often fails tests and usually writes ridiculous answers. In one strip, Miss Wormwood is shown handing a marked test to Calvin, angrily declaring "Calvin, your test was an absolute disgrace! It's obvious you haven't read any of the material! Our first president was not Chef Boyardee, and you ought to be ashamed to have turned in such preposterous answers!", to which Calvin remarks, "I just don't test well." In another strip, after stating that he couldn't reveal where Plymouth Rock was, lest it "compromise our agents in the field," Calvin cheerfully remarks, "I understand my tests are popular reading in the teacher's lounge." Usually, he asks Susie for answers, and while receiving a lot of intentionally wrong answers, still uses them anyway.

Calvin, when in his Spaceman Spiff persona, will usually imagine Miss Wormwood as a slimy, often dictatorial alien.

Moe[edit]

Moe
Comic strip(s) Calvin and Hobbes
Creator(s) Bill Watterson
First appearance January 30, 1986

Moe is the stereotypical bully character, and one of the primary villains, along with Rosalyn and the Monsters under the Bed. He is a "six-year-old who shaves" who is always shoving Calvin against walls or onto the ground, demanding his lunch money and calling him "Twinky", or occasionally "Twinkie". Moe is the only regular character who speaks in an unusual font: his (frequently monosyllabic) dialogue is shown in crude, lower-case letters (probably the most intellectual words Moe has ever used are "asphalt" "spatula", and "skin grafts"). Watterson describes Moe as "every jerk I've ever met ".[1]

While Rosalyn is frequently a match for Calvin's plans, and serves as, perhaps, his "match" on a more strategic and psychological front, Moe seems to be the only character capable of frustrating Calvin to the point of absolute resignation, and operates merely through brute force and physical coercion. Calvin's rare attempts to retaliate have mainly consisted of mocking Moe with words the bully can't understand:

Moe: Gimme a quarter, Twinky.
Calvin: Your simian countenance suggests a heritage unusually rich in species diversity.
Moe: What?
Calvin: Here you go. (flips a quarter to him; to audience) That was worth 25 cents.

or another incident:

Calvin: I want to ask you, Moe; are your maladjusted antisocial tendencies the product of your berserk pituitary gland?
Moe: (thinks) Uh... (says) "What?"
Calvin: Isn't he great, folks? Let's give him a big hand!

Or a third, based more on Moe's inability to react to unexpected situations:

Moe: Hey! You took my favourite swing!
Calvin: That's true, Moe. How about that?
Moe: Uh... (pauses to think)
Calvin: His train of thought is still at the station.

In another strip, Moe threatens to pound Calvin in gym class. With that Calvin responds, "Get your kicks now, you glandular freak! Because once you've grown up, you can't be going around beating up people for no reason!" Moe responds, "Yeah. I guess you're right." The last panel featuring Calvin with his head thrust through a locker uttering, "That really wasn't what I meant at all." Another strip had Moe once again harming Calvin; where Calvin reassures himself by saying "Many years from now, when I am successful and he is in prison, I hope I'm not too mature to gloat." Although Calvin's adult self was, while regularly referenced, alluded to and/or speculated on, never shown in the strip, Moe's rotten attitude strongly suggests he is headed for serious trouble, and possible imprisonment.

Calvin's mother is once shown calling the school to notify them of Moe's bullying, although it only made Moe return 25 cents to Calvin because some person had squealed on him and that "it'll be a dark day if [he] ever [found] out who!" Calvin then says, "I think I'll use the quarter to call my insurance agent." Another time in the strip, Hobbes is brought to school and Calvin successfully psychs Moe out by daring him to touch Hobbes (Calvin thinks Hobbes is scaring him; Moe thinks that the dare is some sort of trap).

Moe is the only minor character in the strip who hurts Calvin without being provoked. He is also the only significant character who is never portrayed as having his own bursts of imagination, or at least being treated with some sympathy, as has sometimes been the case with Miss Wormwood or Principal Spittle.

Stephan Pastis of the 2000s comic Pearls Before Swine has cited Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes as among his many influences; in particular, the Zeeba Zeeba Eata fraternity of crocodiles is alluded to as Moe, even speaking in his similar typeface: Unlike Moe, however, the crocs actions' consequences are depicted in the strip, often resulting in the deaths of newer ones, as opposed to speculated on.

Rosalyn[edit]

Rosalyn
Comic strip(s) Calvin and Hobbes
Creator(s) Bill Watterson
First appearance May 15, 1986

Rosalyn is a high school senior and Calvin's official babysitter whenever Calvin's parents need a night out. She is the only babysitter able to tolerate Calvin's antics, a fact which she uses to demand raises and payment in advance from Calvin's desperate parents, starting from a meager eight dollars a night in her earlier appearances. She is also, according to Watterson, the only person Calvin truly fears—certainly she is his equal in cunning, and doesn't hesitate to play as dirty as he does. Originally created as a nameless, one-shot character with no plans to appear again, Watterson decided he wanted to retain her unique ability to intimidate Calvin, which ultimately led to many more appearances.

Rosalyn's idea of effective babysitting is a 6:30 bedtime for Calvin, and she has little patience for his attempts to rebel against her. Calvin will often freak out whenever he hears that Rosalyn is going to be babysitting him, in one instance screaming in protest non-stop for an entire strip (prompting his Mom to say in the last panel, "For goodness' sake, Calvin! Take a breath before you pass out on the floor!"). In one strip, she orders Calvin to go in the house and to his room, only to receive the reply "Jawohl, mein Führer!" and the Hitler salute. In the final Rosalyn story, however, the traditional war is averted by a game of Calvinball, in which Rosalyn proves to be a formidable player, and once again trumps Calvin with a clever move in the last panel. On returning home, Calvin's parents refuse to believe that she could play a game with him, much less convince Calvin to willingly go to bed, and assume she is making a joke. Occasionally, Calvin manages to gain the upper hand (or at least until his parents arrive) by tricking Rosalyn into precipitous situations, such as locking her out of the house so he and Hobbes can watch TV and eat cookies, or taking Rosalyn's science notes, which she needs to study for a test the next day, and locking himself and Hobbes in the bathroom and threatening to flush them down the toilet if she didn't give into his demands.

In nearly all the "Rosalyn stories", Rosalyn is shown demanding advance payment and raises in wage from Calvin's parents, supposedly because she needs the extra money to pay for college or for the hard work she puts into to control Calvin. (For exactly the same reason, she briefly appears as Calvin's swimming instructor.) They are reluctant to pay such exorbitant rates, but even more unwilling to have Calvin ruin their outings, as the overall reason they occasionally go out is to get a break from Calvin's antics. Therefore, they always gave Rosalyn her raise. When Calvin's dad protested one time on Rosalyn's constant demands for raises and advances, Calvin's mom said in a mad whisper, "Just pay what it takes to get us out of here!" Once after paying such an exorbitant rate (a moth is seen flying out of his empty wallet), Calvin's dad asks his mom if she's sure there isn't any other person willing to babysit Calvin, to which she responds, "Maybe you'd like to spend a week on the phone?"

In at least four stories, Rosalyn telephones her boyfriend, Charlie, to cancel prearranged meetings which she cannot fulfill. (Charlie remains as an unseen character.) Calvin sometimes breaks in and urges Charlie to stop courting Rosalyn, asserting that Rosalyn is sadistic and/or insane.

Her character was created for a Sunday strip for May 18, 1986 as an unnamed character. Because Watterson liked the character and her attitude toward Calvin, Watterson continued to bring her back. Because Sunday strips have to be done so far in advance, Rosalyn's first daily strip appearance took place three days earlier on May 15, 1986 (probably an accident). This means that the decision to continue using Rosalyn was made soon afterward. However, the storyline ended on May 17, 1986, the day before her only Sunday strip appearance.

Not only is Rosalyn Calvin's baby-sitter, she is also his swimming teacher. Calvin's mom took him for swimming lessons in one early story. While he's waiting for the lessons to start, he's worrying about how terrible the class will be. He says, "The only thing that could make this class worse would be if it were..." he turns and sees Rosalyn, "taught by my sadistic baby-sitter!" Calvin does not try to play any tricks on her, but he does fuss throughout the whole lesson, including complaining about the "dead-man's float" causing Rosalyn to remark, "What I put up with to pay for college." After the lesson is over, Calvin's mom tells him he is going to start taking piano lessons. However, Calvin is never shown taking Piano lessons, meaning she was either joking, or it was just never put into any strips.

Rosalyn is one of the only two major characters that never had any role in a Spaceman Spiff strip, the other being, interestingly, Hobbes (although Hobbes appeared at the end of one, it was in the real world, and not Calvin's imagination).

Other characters[edit]

  • Living Food: Calvin often imagines that an oatmeal-like food his mom gives him comes to life, sometimes attacking him. Bill Watterson said that his inspiration for this came from a cartoon that he drew as a kid about living oatmeal.
  • Extraterrestrial Life Forms: Calvin encounters many extraterrestrial life-forms in the course of the strip, usually during adventures as his alter-ego, Spaceman Spiff. Most of these aliens are non-humanoid, bizarre monsters, but they frequently turn out to be merely Calvin's imaginative perception of Susie, his parents and teachers. Initially, many of the aliens spoke in garbled, somewhat onomatopoetic language, with lines like "Ugga muk bluh Spiff." Later, some aliens' speech balloons contained geometric symbols with unclear phonetic values, or had a blocky, semi-computer-like font. In the strip's final year, Watterson drew two stories involving recurring alien characters, Galaxoid and Nebular, to whom Calvin sold the Earth for 50 alien leaves to use for his science project, which he failed because no one believed they were alien tree leaves (Susie notes "It looks like you took 50 maple leaves and cut them into weird shapes"). They returned in the final two weeks of strips, angry at Calvin because he failed to tell them about the changing seasons. After complaining that they were greatly overcharged and demanding Calvin bring the Earth up to code, Hobbes eventually gave them his and Calvin's Christmas stockings to keep warm; he then reminds the sulking Calvin that he did something good, whereupon Calvin perks up knowing that will improve his credit with Santa Claus.
  • Doctor: Calvin occasionally visits his pediatrician, who appears to be a mild-mannered physician with a friendly demeanor. Calvin, however, sees him as a vicious, sadistic interrogator, sometimes visualizing him as an alien or overreacting to his playful diagnoses. At one point he frustrates the good doctor so much that he warns Calvin to not force him to "recant the Hippocratic Oath". In one strip, he says, slightly exasperated, after Calvin frantically asks what one of the doctor tools is and whether it will hurt, "It's a cattle prod. It hurts a little less than a branding iron." Calvin promptly faints, causing the doctor to say that "Little kids have no sense of humor". When the doctor gives Calvin a shot in the next strip, Calvin screams hysterically and promises that the doctor will be sued for medical malpractice. In a check-up later, Calvin tries to fight away the doctor, believing he needs a shot. Even though Calvin's mom said he didn't need a shot, Calvin retorts, "He thinks I'm a little pink pin cushion in underpants." A much later appearance of the doctor came when he diagnosed Calvin with influenza, and commented how unlike before, Calvin was a good patient due to his weakened state. However, Calvin's mother did not like the doctor's recommendation that he be quarantined in his bedroom, saying she would "rather have his teacher deal with him". The doctor made his final appearance when he diagnosed Calvin with chicken pox.
  • Principal Spittle: Calvin's school principal is Mr. Spittle. He usually makes his appearance when Calvin has gone too far in testing Miss Wormwood's limits. He is portrayed as the same stale, academic type of character as Miss Wormwood. Mr. Spittle rarely speaks in the strip; typically, he is seen in the last frame looking over his desk as Calvin tries to explain his latest mishap, either with an apathetic or infuriated expression in his face. He is sometimes seen pressing the ends of his fingers together. He once said he hated his job after Calvin and Susie were sent there and begging him not to spank them. Another time the principal was involved when Calvin tore his pants. Despite all efforts by Calvin not to make a scene or to hide his exposed underwear, he is forced by Miss Wormwood to write on the blackboard. When recounting the story to Hobbes and being asked how his embarrassing experience got him sent home early, Calvin said "Three teachers and the principal could not restore order", implying Principal Spittle suspended the entire class for uproariously laughing at Calvin and not wanting to do any schoolwork.
  • Classmates: The reader sees various classmates of Calvin, but other than Susie and Moe they are almost entirely anonymous. Calvin seems only vaguely aware of them, but when he does pay attention to them they are always simply an audience, seeing Calvin as the misbehaving minority who makes things difficult for the conforming majority. Some one-time appearances are Tommy Chesnutt (who was allegedly eaten by Hobbes), Russy White, Filthy Rich, Blake, Ronald, Jessica, Flow, Claire, Clarance and Candace. There are a total of thirty students in the class.
  • Burglars: In one story, Calvin's family leaves Hobbes at home to go to a wedding, and their house is broken into, with the burglars taking the TV and some jewelry. Thankfully, Hobbes was okay. As far as we know, the burglars were never caught.
  • Mr. Lockjaw: Mr. Lockjaw is the gym teacher and coach of the baseball team at Calvin's school. He is a squat, burly man with little patience for people like Calvin who lack a competitive spirit. When Calvin leaves the baseball team, Lockjaw calls him a "quitter", and this emotional trauma leads to the reader's first encounter with Calvinball.
  • Scouts: Early in the strip, Watterson shows Calvin participating with other children in Cub Scout activities in the woods. Watterson thought at the time that scouting might offer some potential for interesting adventures, but eventually abandoned the idea, considering it uncharacteristic of Calvin to join an organization, and viewing it as a distraction from Calvin's intentionally personal world (much as Calvin himself did). Only one scout ever appears. However, Hobbes uses a Cub Scout manual to get Calvin untied from a chair on one occasion.
  • Charlie: Also called Chuck or Chaz by Calvin. Charlie is Rosalyn's boyfriend. Rosalyn usually has to postpone a date to watch Calvin, so he usually calls the house and often Calvin picks up, trying to convince Charlie that Rosalyn is a "sadistic kid hater."
  • Susie's mom: She is shown from the waist down in a foiled attempt to pester Susie, and is also seen having a brief dialogue during Susie's first experience with Calvin's alter-ego, Stupendous Man.
  • Substitute teachers: Occasionally, Calvin's class will have a substitute teacher. However, only two are named. One was a man named Mr. Kneecapper, who, as Calvin tells Susie, had once killed a student. Before he is named, Calvin learns that Miss Wormwood is sick and they have a substitute teacher, he asks, "Can I send in a substitute student?". In one set of strips, a woman is substituting; she looks through some notes Calvin's teacher left and inquires which child Calvin is. Later, Hobbes asks Calvin what he thought of her, Calvin replies he is unsure as "she went home after noon."
  • Mabel Syrup: The author of Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie and Commander Coriander Salamander and 'er Singlehander Bellylander.
  • Monsters: the primary villains in the comic strip, along with Moe and Rosalyn. Calvin has monsters under his bed who have a plan to kill and eat him but invariably he easily outsmarts them, as they are "All teeth and digestive tract, no brains at all". One of them was named Maurice, and another one is named Winslow.
  • Calvin's Bicycle: Given to Calvin by his dad, the bike is a mindless killing machine. A supporting villain, it will frequently chase (and even sometimes run over) Calvin, destroying household items in the process. In early strips the bicycle did not have a life of its own. It would just fall over, because Calvin had no balance. As Calvin could never learn how to ride the bike, and as he had so many accidents trying, he began to think the bike hated him, causing it to gain a life of its own. From then on it would start moving all on its own accord, chasing Calvin around. In one story, it is accidentally let into Calvin's house and nearly destroys it, with Calvin only surviving by locking himself out on the roof; in another, Calvin remarks that he thinks his father gave him the bike to try to kill him. Calvin's father once remarks, when he and Calvin's mother are fixing Calvin up after he attempts to tackle the bike into submission, "When I was a kid and learning how to ride a bike, I never got my face stuck in the gear chain," while Calvin is yowling in agony as soap is put on his wounds.
  • The Martian: As seen in one story, when Calvin and Hobbes become fed up with living on Earth with pollution by leaving to Mars. While initially enjoying the place with its unspoiled beauty, they become terrified when they meet a Martian (with it being as comically terrified of them as they are of it). The creature is small, with several tentacles on the bottom, with a large mouth, two eyes on eye-stalks like a snail, and covered in purple polka-dots with a green main body, slightly resembling a small octopus in anatomy. Calvin and Hobbes soon realize that they are not welcome there, as the Martians are worried that mankind will come to their planet and ravage it like how they have done it to theirs, with Calvin and Hobbes leaving, remarking they should fix up their own planet before they mess up anyone else's planet, and Hobbes remarking that their reputation preceded them.

References[edit]