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I have been a massive Calvin and Hobbes fan since a friend introduced me to them over 13 years ago. I have read my annuals until they are dog-eared. It is the only comic strip that captures my imagination, and makes me smile from ear to ear.
The underlying story behind the comic is of a young boy called Calvin, and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes. Through Calvin's eyes the reader sees Hobbes as a real tiger, but when anyone else appears in the strip Hobbes turns back into stuffed toy (though not to Calvin - to him Hobbes is always as alive as his parents, or his annoying neighbour Suzie) It is apt that the two main characters are named after a philosopher and a theologian as the comic strips can be very thought provoking (surprisingly so!) Some strips touch on serious issues like the environment, religion, hunting, politics, and the education system - but all in a wonderfully childlike way. Some strips are just plain fun. There are also very poignant and heart wrenching strips, every Calvin and Hobbes fan will remember the strip where Calvin loses Hobbes, or the Christmas where he's upset about forgetting to buy his tiger a present.
This beautiful collection of hardback comics features all of the published strips that Bill Watterson ever wrote, as well as an introduction written by the man himself. In this forward there are early comics and other works by Bill. He also talks about his own relationship Calvin and Hobbes, and why he felt any other merchandising would go against the whole ethos of his work. It really is a fascinating read, from a man who rarely gives interviews.
There are 3 large, heavy books contained in a slipcase. They are a beautiful shade of brown and are obviously high quality. The pages are thick and somewhat glossy. When reading them you feel that they have been made lovingly and with care and attention. The books are over 7lbs each though, so be careful you don't drop them. They could very well make a hole in your floor! Not very suitable for reading outdoors or in the car I'm afraid.
As the books are so heavy and large I would not recommend this as a collection for children. It would however be a lovely item to pass on to any young Calvin and Hobbes fan as they become older, in the meantime the compilation books are great for children, and while they might not understand the meaning behind some of the strips, most of them will still prove funny for children over eight or nine years old. Certainly this is a collection that can be passed on through generations if proper care is taken when reading the books. I have read through the collection twice and like to sprawl in front of my fireplace when reading to allow me plenty of space.
The character of Calvin is an impulsive, funny, energetic, selfish, cynical, intelligent beyond his years, 6 year old boy. Hobbes often seems to balance him out and is more rational and more aware of the consequences of Calvin's schemes - though it is seldom that he really tries to stop Calvin causing mischief. Calvin often blames Hobbes for the situations he finds himself in. Their relationship is easy and carefree, this is juxtaposed with Calvin's awkward relationships with his peers, many of whom don't understand him. It really is a beguiling read. I don't want to give too much away in terms of characters and story lines, so I'll leave it at that. I will say however that upon reading the last strip I was very upset that I'd never read a unique one again - this is how powerful and meaningful the comic became for me.
I am a huge admirer of Watterson and what he has done with this seemingly simple comic strip. After reading these comics I hope you will be just as enchanted and charmed by them as I am. I am even more impressed with Watterson's integrity in not 'selling out' and stopping the comic strips when he felt he could no longer do them justice. There's nothing worse than something being amazing, but dragging on longer than it should, and becoming boring and predictable (Friends, anyone?)
This collection can be bought new from £80. In my eyes this is a fair price, not a bargain but fair.
If I could I would give this gorgeous collection 6 out of 5.
Brings together every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that has ever appeared in syndication, along with stories and poems from classic collections.