Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson

Infobox Comics creator
name = Bill Watterson


imagesize = 150
caption =
birthname = William B. Watterson II
birthdate = birth date and age|1958|7|5
location = Washington, D.C.
deathdate =
deathplace =
nationality = American
area = artist, writer
alias =
notable works = "Calvin and Hobbes"
awards = full list

William B. "Bill" Watterson II (born July 5, 1958), an American cartoonist, is the author of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes" and select "" drawings.

Biography

Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, James G. Watterson, worked as a patent examiner while going to George Washington University Law School before becoming a patent attorney in 1960. The family moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where his mother, Kathryn, became a city council member when Bill was six years old. He has a younger brother, Thomas, who is currently an English teacher at McCallum High School in Austin, Texas.cite web
url=http://www.austin.isd.tenet.edu/schools/details.phtml?id=012&opt=directory
title=McCallum Staff Directory
year=2007
accessdate=2007-05-03
author=Steven Powell
] [cite web
url=http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cbillart.html
title=Rare Bill Watterson Art :: For the Calvin Connoisseur
accessdate=2008-01-25
publisher=Calvin & Hobbes: Magic on Paper
]

Early career

In 1980, Watterson graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in political science. Immediately, the "Cincinnati Post" offered him a job drawing political cartoons for a six-month trial period:

quotation|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, and I didn't benefit from the comparison.|Watterson explaining his short career with the "Cincinnati Post" cite web
url=http://home3.inet.tele.dk/stadil/interw.htm
title=Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes on cartooning, syndicates, Garfield, Charles Schulz, and editors
work=Honk Magazine, Issue 2
year=1987
accessdate=2006-03-17
author=Andrew Christie
]
Bill Watterson designed grocery advertisements for four years prior to creating "Calvin and Hobbes".cite book
title=The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
chapter=Introduction
pages=491 (Book 1)
publisher=Andrew McMeel
id=ISBN 0-7407-4847-5
year=2005
author=Bill Watterson
]

Rise to success

Inspiration

"Calvin and Hobbes" was first published on November 18, 1985. Bill Watterson wrote in his "Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book" [cite book
last = Watterson
first = Bill
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
publisher = Andrews and McMeel
date = 1995
location =
pages = 21
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
] that his influences include Charles Schulz, for his work in "Peanuts"; Walt Kelly for his comic "Pogo"; and George Herriman for "Krazy Kat". (Watterson also wrote the introduction to the first volume of "The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat".) Watterson's style also reflects the influence of "Little Nemo in Slumberland", a popular early-20th-century comic strip by Winsor McCay.cite web
url=http://www.zompist.com/bob8.html
title=Winsor McCay: Little Nemo; Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend
publisher=Bob's Comics Reviews
date=November 1996
] cite book
url=http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cslumberland.html
title=The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland
chapter=An Incredible Ride To the End: An appreciation by Bill Watterson
pages=195
publisher=Stewart, Tabori, & Chang
accessdate=2006-03-17
id=ISBN 1-55670-647-2
year=1987
author=Winsor McCay, Richard Marschall
] Watterson's cat, "Sprite," very much inspired the personality and physical features of Hobbes. [cite book
last = Watterson
first = Bill
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
publisher = Andrews and McMeel
date = 1995
location =
pages = 22
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
]

Additionally, he has woven parts of his life into the comic. He is an avid cyclist and has incorporated much of this theme into "Calvin and Hobbes". [cite book
last = Watterson
first = Bill
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
publisher = Andrews and McMeel
date = 1995
location =
pages = 173
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
] The theme of Calvin's father making Calvin suffer in order to "build character" came from his own father.

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).cite book
title=The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
author=Bill Watterson
year=1995
pages=208
publisher=Andrews McMeel
id=ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
]

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 cartoons the way he wanted. In many of his strips, the panels overlap or contain their own panels; in some, the action progresses diagonally across the strip. [cite book
last = Watterson
first = Bill
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
publisher = Andrews and McMeel
date = 1995
location =
pages = 14
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
]

Fight against merchandising the cartoon characters

Watterson also battled against pressure from publishers to merchandise his work, something he felt would cheapen his comic.cite web
url=http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/comics.html
title=The Cheapening of the Comics
author=Bill Watterson
work=Festival of Cartoon Art, Ohio State University
date=1989-10-27
accessdate=2006-03-17
] He refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that pasting "Calvin and Hobbes" images on commercially sold mugs, stickers, and T-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities. [cite book
last = Watterson
first = Bill
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
publisher = Andrews and McMeel
date = 1995
location =
pages = 10
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8362-0438-7
] He also refused to allow the strip to appear as an animated series.

Watterson was vocally critical of Jim Davis' decision to license his strip "Garfield" to so many different things, saying that it "cheapened" the strip.

Reuben

Watterson was awarded the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988 and the society's Reuben Award in 1986;cite web
url=http://www.reuben.org/ncs/archive/divisions/reuben2.asp
title=The Reuben Award, 1975 to present day
publisher=National Cartoonist Society
accessdate=2006-03-17
] he was the youngest person ever to receive the latter award. In 1988, Watterson received the Reuben Award a second time. In fact, he was nominated a third time in 1992. While the only data provided by the National Cartoonists Society to confirm this is found in news coverage of the event found in various microfilm catalogs, it has been widely known by Wattersonphiles and stated by multiple web based articles that; following the 1992 nomination of Mr. Watterson for the comic strip variant of the Reuben award (which Watterson did not win that year), the NCS declared that no artist could win the award more than once.cite web
url=http://www.answers.com/topic/bill-watterson?cat=entertainment
title=AnswerNote: Bill Watterson (Section:"Rise to Success", Paragraph 5)
publisher=National Cartoonist Society
accessdate=2008-06-25
] Watterson wrote a brief, tongue-in-cheek autobiography in the late 1980s.cite web
url=http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cautobio.html
title=The Brief Tongue-in-Cheek Autobiography of Bill Watterson
author=Bill Watterson
accessdate=2008-05-18
]

Thirty-six of his Sunday cartoon strips were exhibited at Ohio State University's Cartoon Research Library from September 10, 2001 to January 16, 2002.

Retirement

quotation|Dear Reader:
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.
Sincerely,
Bill Watterson|Watterson's letter to newspaper editors announcing his retirement, November 9, 1995

The last strip of "Calvin and Hobbes" was published on December 31, 1995. Since retiring, Bill Watterson has taken up painting, often drawing landscapes of the woods with his father. He has also published several anthologies of "Calvin and Hobbes" strips.

Since ending the strip, 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. He refuses to 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.

In 2005, Watterson and his wife, Melissa, moved from Chagrin Falls to the City of Cleveland. [ [http://ignatz.brinkster.net/ctigerstrikes.html Neely Tucker, "The Tiger Strikes Again," "The Washington Post" 4 Oct. 2005.] ] [ [http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cprivacy.html Joe Milicia, "Calvin and Hobbes Creator Keeps Privacy," Associated Press 22 Oct. 2005.] ] On December 21, 1999, a short piece called [http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cpeanuts01.html "Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World,"] written by Watterson to mark the forthcoming end of the comic strip "Peanuts", was published in the "Los Angeles Times".cite news
url=http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cpeanuts01.html
title=Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World
author=Bill Watterson
publisher=Los Angeles Times
date=1999-12-21
accessdate=2006-03-17
] In October of 2005, Watterson answered fifteen questions submitted by readers.cite web
url=http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/calvinandhobbes/interview_text.html
title=Fans From Around the World Interview Bill Watterson
publisher=Andrews McMeel
date=2005-10-04
accessdate=2006-03-17
] His most recent foray into public life was on October 17, 2007, with a review of "Schulz and Peanuts", a biography of Charles Schulz, in "The Wall Street Journal".cite news
url=http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119214690326956694.html
title=The Grief That Made 'Peanuts' Good
author=Bill Watterson
publisher=Wall Street Journal
date=2007-10-12
accessdate=2008-08-27
] In 2008, he provided a foreword for the first book collection of Richard Thompson's "Cul De Sac" comic strip.

Awards

*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 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"

ources

External links

* [http://lambiek.net/artists/w/watterson.htm Bill Watterson biography] on Lambiek Comiclopedia
* [http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cbillart.html Rare Bill Watterson Art] at "Calvin and Hobbes": Magic On Paper
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/03/AR2005100301754.html "After an Early Bedtime, Calvin and Hobbes Are Up and Running in a New Collection"] - Washington Post book review including broad look at Watterson's career
* [http://jawboneradio.blogspot.com/2005/11/jawbone-81-in-search-of-bill-watterson.html Interview with Bill Watterson's mother] (interview begins around 7:10)
* [http://www.clevescene.com/2003-11-26/news/missing/full Comprehensive article on Watterson's career and reclusiveness from Cleveland Scene]


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