Monday, October 20, 2008
One man's junk is another man's treasure, but the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes is no man's junk, not even when purchased by a sister-in-law at a garage sale. Calvin & Hobbes shared the adventures of a very young boy, Calvin, and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, exploits that were limited only by Calvin's imagination and the aggravating reality of his parents.
Watterson's simple, direct art was perfectly suited for Calvin's fantasy world of spaceships, aliens, super-heroes and dinosaurs. In addition, Watterson's believable dialog, human emotion, and situation added a wistful familiarity to his characters that is seldom matched in the genre. But beyond his excellent, minimalistic art and the accurate portrait of a little boy, his comic strip was characterized by one undeniable and heartwarming fact.
Watterson loved Calvin.
Besides adventure, what do a boy and his toy bear (from the comic book Herobear) and a man and his alien (from the comic book Decoy) share in common? They share the premise of a child with an imaginary friend, and the "cross-over" title Field Trip.
For the uninitiated, the term "cross-over" means characters from two or more different titles are featured in one story.
They also share excellence through two divergent art styles, engrossing visual storytelling, believable dialogue and characterization, and an interesting plot.
Herobear seems influenced by the strip Calvin and Hobbes, and Decoy was clearly created for younger audiences. Field features un-inked art, a rarity in comics because of the earlier limitations of printing processes. Both titles bring their strengths to a story easily enjoyed by adults as well as kids.
It's A Magical World/original sticker price $11.21 & 165 pgs. from Andrews & McMeel/by Bill Watterson.
Field Trip #1 (of 2)/$2.95 & 32 pgs. from Penny-Farthing and Astonish Comics/story: Courtney Huddleston; words: Mike Kunkel; art: Huddleston and Kunkel/sold at comics shops and at www.pfpress.com.
Review by Michael Vance