Sunday, June 20, 2010

Calvin: Boy Wonder

I saw a comic called Calvin Minus Hobbes a while back and it got me thinking about the general theme of Calvin and Hobbes: imagination and childhood. It's a comic that has been lauded for it's philosophical and whimsical nature, as well as just how hilarious it is. I would say it's the best comic of all time. It is pure and beautiful.

Sorry. Fanboy moment. I'll try to keep them to a minimum.

The real debate about Calvin and Hobbes is if Hobbes is actually real. Is he an actual tiger or is he a figment of Calvin's imagination? Are the crazy things Calvin does (going back in time, transmogrifying, going to mars, etc) real or are they simply the fantasy of an obviously lonely young boy.

It doesn't really matter, because all these things are real to Calvin. Calvin believes Hobbes is real and that they have wacky adventures. Calvin may or may not have serious mental and social issues, but that's not the issue at hand. What's incredible about this strip is just the sheer power of imagination. When you read Calvin and Hobbes it's very easy to forget that Calvin is only six and that the stuffed tiger is just that. It's an odd place to find depth and meaning, and yet never seems out of place.

But again, not the issue. What I keep coming back to is just the crazy imagination of Calvin. I think about playing with my legos when I was a kid (read: last week) and never came up with anything like that. Calvin does not have a lot to work with. He has a tiger and his head. He has very generic education-minded parents who did not want him to rot his brain with things like cable tv. Calvin has crafted a world for himself that is pure fantasy and unadulterated awesome.

It's a good lessons for kids today who grow up with thousands of action figures that talk for them, shrieking video games, and hundreds of channels. That kills the imagination. Why write a story when one is written for you? Calvin is a kid who is 100% imagination. Granted, a child psychologist might diagnose him with ADHD or ADD, but those people are cynics. Calvin just loves to pretend, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Bringin' this back to the start. Calvin minus Hobbes is a rather douche-baggian view, one that we seem to love to have, which sucks all the fun out of the wonder of childhood. I know that's the point, but I'll be damned if I like it. I refuse to be cynical on this. Hobbes may be a stuffed tiger, but if he's real to Calvin, he's real to me.