The Year the Comics Died

"It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them."
Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/1/10.


Watterson and I exchanged letters just before his new strip was launched in 1985. After previewing samples of his strip sent to the Palm Beach Post by Bill's syndicate, I sent him a fan letter  predicting a hit. This letter is dated the day after Christmas, 1985 and reads like Calvin himself wrote it (a few lines are edited out.) It  features an original drawing of Hobbes done in brush and india ink.


Watterson pulled the plug on the strip ten years later. In the same year, 1995, the other "best comic ever" ended when Gary Larson quit The Far Side.


One of the funniest captions ever written-
 (or was it "Look who just walked in- 'God's Gift to Warthogs."
The syndicates made half-hearted attempts to fill the massive void left by the loss of their highest rated features ( notably The Argyle Sweater, Red and Rover) but the "fresher, livelier talent" never materialized. Today, newspapers (and most of the cartoonists themselves) are content to let the whole business die a miserable, slow death. Internet fans of these two great talents will see to it that Watterson and Larson never suffer the same fate.

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