Calvin and Hobbes Animated! Calvin and Hobbes Animated!

Calvin and Hobbes Animated!

We may never see a Bill Watterson-approved animated version of Calvin and Hobbes but the following student film from Italy is a nice unofficial attempt. The animation was done by Donato Di Carlo at the CFP Milano film school.

(Thanks, Brian Jones)

  • Aaron

    Wow! The animation is actually really good. It totally captures the feel of the original strip. The worst part of the whole thing is the horrible voice that they give Calvin. It’s too sweet for his character.

    • julie

      darn it I wanted to see it:-(

  • amid

    Maybe they should have given him this voice :-)

  • yeah, the animation itself is pretty great, but the voice doesn’t match. Bill Watterson once admitted that the idea of hearing Calvin’s voice was very scary…

    amid, that was cruel…

  • uffler mustek

    neat idea to go to Sunday color during the fantasy bits.

  • i totally agree with Aaron ! it’s a graphic treat but i personally don’t want to be told how Calvin (or Hobbes) sounds. they exist so well in the print realm – i don’t think a conventional animation approach can do Watterson’s genius justice. . . maybe little vignettes sans voices ?

    that’s a cruel thing to expose us to, Amid. . . . have you seen the Krazy & Ignatz CG piece ?

  • That film is like what I imagined Calvin & Hobbes to be like animated, yet completely different. I agree with Aaron; the voices aren’t fantastic, but with the forced perspective of Calvin’s storytelling, I didn’t let the voices distract too much.

    That 3D thing was hideous…thanks for poisoning my brain, Amid!

  • Aaron

    Sadly, I think that that voice is better. Calvin is obviously supposed to be American, so the accent is way off, and he also sounds at least ten years too old, but the actual inflections and timbre are much closer. Calvin’s voice is one that the traditional woman-talking-like-a-little-boy technique doesn’t quite work on.

  • The animation is really faithful to the strip! I didn’t think that was possible. Now the dialogue and voice acting… that’s a different story. I could die happy if they made a Calvin and Hobbes movie. I know it goes against every grain of Bill Watterson’s being. Still, hand drawn animation with beautiful Bill Watterson background art, as produced and directed by Pixar. Ok, back to reality.

    PS – That 3D British Calvin and Hobbes is priceless (for all the wrong reasons).

  • Or this one:
    (Actually, while this Robot Chicken parody takes pains to be “out there,” going in an E. C. Comics-like direction Watterson would never have followed, I think the voices for Calvin and especially Hobbes are quite close to what I would have imagined—maybe a little more of Bart Simpson in Calvin, but not much more.)

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Maybe they should have given him this voice :-)

    Ah, CG! (that nearly put me in) This guy though did it quite better in modeling the stuffed Hobbes via 3DS Max…

    Haven’t realized until after seeing this that so many out there want to do their own Calvin & Hobbes thing on YouTube as well. I’m surprised it has gotten to this level that one guy in Italy actually did such a great job on adapting Watterson’s non-profit creation.

    Here’s a French live-action effort.

    Then of course you get terribly lower, and it’s THIS stuff!

    Then the usual comic strip animated/GIF pieces…

    Really, It’s getting to a point I wish I made one too, but I have to respect the author’s wishes anyway! :-)

  • That’s a pretty good representation. Great animation! Poses & expressions are dead-on like in the comics.

    I wonder if Bill Watterson ever saw this? & if he did, would he like it?

  • Jorge Garrido

    The animation and design is AMAZING, completely authentic. The voice sucks, though. The hardest part of making a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon would be casting a voice for a kid who is not a literal kid. He’s more grown up.

    Hobbes would be tricky, too.

  • Ian Copeland

    That’s some mighty fine hand acting in “Dad’s Binoculars” – it’s like having four extra performers on stage.

  • Adam

    Hey, it’s the bumper sticker kid who pees on stuff! Amazingly well fleshed out back story they’ve given him.

  • Amazing student film! This is exactly how I imaged a Calvin and Hobbles cartoon to look like, in the hands of a true talent who gets the art style down to a tee, and animates it so well. I sure hope Bill Watterson gets to see this!

  • Oh wow, that was just awesome. I hope Watterson sees this and appreciates it. Very well-written, drawn, animated, and everything else too! (And I didn’t mind the selection of voices either.)

  • I know a lot of us animation geeks who always loved calvin and Hobbes, and wanted to see it animated, might think this is cool…

    But…Bill Watterson specifically didn’t want that kind of thing to happen. Nor did he want people to sell oodles of Calvin merchandise, like that redneck “Calvin peeing” window sticker you see everywhere.

    I think this oughta be taken off the web.

  • Whoa chill out ‘Matt Sullivan’ , don’t loose sight of what this actually is… a student “fan film”!

    I personally think they’ve done a great job! Such a good idea to keep it true to the black and white strip but have colour in the “dream sequences”. It’s cool!!

  • That was a pretty nice student film. Almost a dream come true to see Calvin animated pleasingly after all these years. I kind of almost wish it could have American voice dubbing, y’know, just to see it.

    Needs more cowbell… I mean, more Hobbes though.

    I respect Watterson and his principles in a way I respect almost no one else’s, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be first in line to watch an animated C&H feature or TV show (nevermind the crimes I’d commit to work on such a project).

  • uncle wayne

    Ohhhhhhhhhh, WOW! Every human’s favorite strip! (And WHAT child did NOT have a stuffed animal that “had adventures!??”)

    What a great treat to come home to!! Thank YOO! The perfect (& endless) vehicle for animation!

  • And here I thought I was never going to find a great place to use this quote I snagged from the Brew a few years ago:

    “I believe licensing usually cheapens the original creation. When cartoon characters appear on countless products, the public inevitably grows bored and irritated with them, and the appeal and value of the original work are diminished. Nothing dulls the edge of a new and clever cartoon like saturating the market with it… I don’t want some animation studio giving Hobbes an actor’s voice, and I don’t want some greeting card company using Calvin to wish people a happy anniversary, and I don’t want the issue of Hobbes’ reality settled by a doll manufacturer. When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished. Calvin & Hobbes was designed to be a comic strip and that’s all I want it to be. It’s the one place where everything works the way I intend it to.” –Bill Watterson

  • Andrew B

    Great work! I’ve always wanted to do this; though I’m glad someone else went ahead and got the job done beautifully. :)

    Though, I’m still waiting for that mythical, Eric Goldberg C&H pencil test I keep hearing about in circles to pop up one day. If it exists, that is.

    David Gerstein: I agree. Parody aside, Robot Chicken nailed their voices in that sketch.

  • Mr. Woah

    They nailed the art style perfectly. The only problem, as mentioned before, is the acting, but it’s fine after a second or two.
    And Eric Goldberg made a pencil test?

  • Jorge Garrido

    That Robot Chicken thing was a travesty, I feel physically sick.

    And the voices SUCKED. Calvin cannot sound like a kid OR a man. And hearing Hobbes talking in an actor’s voice sounds as weird as hearing Snoopy.

    They should be silent cartoons with speech bubbles like Tom & Jerry or Mutt & Jeff. Or done like the kids in South Park, especially Kyle and Stan.

  • I first heard of this short from an overlooked post in an obscure forum, so it’s nice to see it making the rounds and getting more notice.

    Very Wattersonian in story and especially in art (Calvin’s facial expression at about 1:50 resembles a strip in Wierdos From Another Planet.) Calvin’s voice sounds like a voice in a Japanese anime, and Miss Wormwood’s voice sounds very raspy, but other than that, basically flawless.

    I also have nothing aginst the Robot Chicken short; Calvin and Hobbes were handled fairly gently compared to some of the other parodies that show has done (Super Mario Bros. in Vice City, anyone?)

  • Keith Paynter

    Outstanding! In any animated adaptation, it will usually come down to the voice work that can sell it. Not bad for a student film….

  • Adam

    I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that most of that has been traced directly from the strip. The layouts, linework, and compositions look incredibly close to the originals. It was faked in a few places, but I think most of it is directly traced. Not that there is anything wrong with that since this is obviously an experimental/educational exercise.

  • Chuck R.

    Well, The Di Carlo version was okay, I guess, but strangely enough only “Dad’s Binoculars” actually made me laugh.

    Thanks, Amid. You proved that John K. is right. Sometimes off-model is cooler.

  • Oh yeah, that’s quite faithful to the comic I remember from my youth. Makes me wish Watterson didn’t have such a sour attitude toward merchandising… it’s the ultimate tribute to the lasting impact of your work when it’s immortalized as a stuffed toy or a cartoon.

    That other clip, though… yikes. It’s like you’re getting your Calvin for nothing and your Hobbes for free!

  • Gigglepuss

    Wait a second, to whoever said the Robot Chicken skit was a travesty– slavery was a travesty. This is a cartoon that you like less than others. Besides, on the show the voices are always supposed to sound like someone’s doing them. But still, if I had to choose one, the Robot Chicken had him as what he was, and what he was compared to so many other little kid characters, a real kid. Which worked. Heck, I think the robot chicken thing was beautifully done, with the Watterson style psychiatrist, and the dad… ahh… a stop motion series of a hand drawn comic strip would be beautiful… (Bloom County?)

    It’s funny, when Watterson spoke of why he didnt want to do a series, his main reason was ‘I didn’t want some stranger doing Hobbes’ voice.’ He was right, it’ll never equal what’s in our heads which is some unknown voice. The Drinky Crow show premiered this week, and I found it [to me] had the same problem, no Drinky Crow could sound like the one in your head. Another note on the voice here, cartoon voices come off differently in other cultures. I know in Europe, little kids, irregardless of what their agenda is, do tend to sound more childlike.

    Also, I think Watterson WAS right not to merchandise it. Unlike Peanuts, another brilliant comic stirp which DID merchandise, no one is tired of Calvin and Hobbes. These fan films, from this, to Robot Chicken, to Susie shooting Calvin for throwing a water balloon, to those ‘peeing calvin’ stickers, are more fun than any mass released cartoon show could ever be.

  • With all due respect to Mr. Watterson, ideas get out, concepts get out, ideas, intellectual property, whatever, get out into the public sphere eventually. The minute you publish something, create art, write a book, it is not a closeted act of creation but anticipates and even depends on an active response from a readership/audience. Part of the joy of having that interaction is to see new derivative works germinate from that process. I think to an extent, art and intellectual expression grows beyond its creator and to come down hard on what is clearly a respectful admiration for the parent material seems – ill-placed.

    If this was being sold and marketed for money, clearly the situation would be different. But that does not seem to be the case. Maybe the Robot Chicken parody is a stronger case of infringement – I don’t personally think so – but if you fight so hard to keep your own ideas – which have been published to the public at large – locked away forever you’ll only stagnant what can be a very vibrant and fulfilling addition to an ongoing creative discussion.

  • OooOooh! I enjoyed that! Excellent!

  • It’s VERY well put-together. I think this is about as good as it SHOULD be, it doesn’t need anything else. However, I think the reason for it looking so good is that all his key drawings are lifted straight from the comic. There are too many very recognisable poses in there for anyone who loves the comic. However, I don’t see that as a bad thing. It’s testament to how good Watterson’s draftsmanship was that this is just HOW simply and successfully an animated C&H could have been using his own artwork.

    And all you curmudgeons deriding people who dare to defy Bill’s will, that’s fame. It will never be done officially, so who are you to deny someone willing to put in the effort a little what-if fantasy?

    I don’t understand Bill’s attitude at all – you can’t control something once it becomes loved by the world. I think history willl come to remember his decision to not license as more of a shame than a bold act of ultimate creative control. I’D have loved a Hobbes plushie, that’s for sure. He would have been played with and loved along with my old plush Snoopy.

    As for the Robot Chicken skit, that was pure unabashed tongue-in-cheek satire and is perfectly allowable. I thought it was funny.

  • Ryan

    European voices are always a bit strange…
    Have you heard what Bugs Bunny sounds like in France? A bit like Yosemite Sam, only a bit more – gruff, if that’s possible. Which it is.

  • JulisgG

    I’m almost certain that many of the frames were pulled straight from the actual comic strips. It appears as if the artist went through the strips, picked out scenes and components that would work together and then animated them together. Still well done, but it starts to sound like a glorified inbetweener (that said, I wish I had the artistic talent to be able to call myself an inbetweener…glorified or not). If this is in fact the case, it makes the creation of this an even more blatant theft of Watterson’s work.

    I must say I find myself siding with MattSullivan. It is bad enough this is using unlicensed characters, designs, and layouts but its using the characters and designs of an artist who was always very explicit in his belief that the characters should only ever appear in the comics. As much as we might wish for more, shouldn’t we respect the artist’s wishes not to mention respect copyright laws?

    I don’t understand the attitude of some posters that, Watterson as the artist doesn’t have the right to want to keep his work pure and in the form he intended. Because we, the fans, support it, he must accept any derivatives we desire? Once something is in the public eye, the public has control over it? Maybe some people would agree that part of the joy of creating something is to see new derivatives come from it. But not all artists obviously feel that way. Maybe the attempt to prevent derivatives is hopeless but why wouldn’t we respect the ideal?

    And whether this was done for monetary gain or not is pretty irrelevant. This wasn’t created in someone’s basement for their own amusement never to be seen by the public. This is now available on the internet and the artist has benefited and is benefiting in the form of awareness and kudos as a talented animator.

    It seems rather hypocritical of a site that has talked a fair bit about unlicensed knockoffs recently to be promoting the existence of this piece in a positive light. What, is stealing the work of others only offensive if it is done poorly and/or you don’t like the results?

  • OM

    …Bah. For all the glory that Calvin and Hobbes was, it was still nothing more than Watterson taking Hank Ketcham’s basic Dennis the Menace concept and putting a more sadistic, modern spin on it. Which is why I can’t accept his attitude behind even quality spin-off merchandise. Seems to me if he had any concern for his fans, he’d at least make an effort to ensure high quality control on the merchandising so that public demand is satisfied properly.

    But then again, if he cared about his fans, he’d still be doing new strips.

  • In re: “you can’t control something once it becomes loved by the world.”

    Apparently, you can.

    Creators should be able to choose (to license) without being judged. Especially when they’ve broken as much ground for other creators as Watterson has.

  • Paul

    I’m with Adam and Amy; the keys for this come directly from the strips. It’s an incredible research project – going through the strips and pulling out the poses that will work for the short – but it’s basically an inbetweening exercise. It shows up in shots that the artist had to devise without benefit of Watterson’s work.

  • Anastasia Lee

    Wow! That was great. I thought it captured the feeling of Wattersons strip perfectly.
    I gotta agree with Amy “I don’t understand Bill’s attitude at all…history willl come to remember his decision to not license as more of a shame than a bold act of ultimate creative control”
    You ever get the feeling we’ve been cheated?

  • Stiv

    For everyone mentioning Waterson’s objections to liscensing – if I remember correctly, that triade was taken from some of the introductory content to his 10th anniversary collection of Calvin and Hobbes. Since then he’s apparently changed his mind somewhat, wishing that he had allowed his syndicate at least some liscensing opportunities.

    I still doubt that he’d have wanted there to be a cartoon, though. As admirable (and interesting) as this example is, I still really don’t want the characters to be assigned voices, and if anything the key frames prove that it really does work best as a comic strip.

  • LNG

    The key poses may be lifted from C&H strips but this little student film was put together with much more care than it would’ve been by any Hollywood cartoon studio. It may be a minor experimental work, but the absence of the creative executives’ toxic touch is palpable.

  • Julis: I agree that if these keys were pulled straight from the strips, then yes, the role of the animator DOES essentially become more of an inbetweener, but it demonstrates that is Watterson HAD agreed to animation, he might have had more control over it than he seemed to think.

    In a perfect world, every creator would have the final say, and certainly, we can respect his IDEAL. But that’s a somewhat futile attitude to take in any creative business these days. Not many cartoonists get Watterson’s level of comic achievement and I just personally think it’s a shame that he thought of licensing as TEH EVIL rather than a means (that COULD be controlled carefully if he’d been pragmatic about it) to elevate his characters from just great comic characters to pop culture icons.
    I really wonder why on earth he got into the business if he honestly thought he could just draw his comics and no one would EVER ask anything else of him or his creations.

    What cartoonist DOESN’T want to see their characters animated?? Watterson may have embodied the noblest of ideals, but he still comes across as the extreme exception to the rule and if what Stiv says is correct, it’s come to be a cause of some regret to him and a LOT of regret to C&H fans and comic lovers.

  • Gerard de Souza

    Actually…..On model…good effort…..but not as good as I’d expect them to be animated.
    All this effort. The student could have done their orignal idea about an imaginative kid.

  • I usually try to shy away from blog arguments, but this statement really gets my goat:

    “I really wonder why on earth he got into the business if he honestly thought he could just draw his comics and no one would EVER ask anything else of him or his creations. ”

    That’s right kids, talent, desire and creativity is not enough for you to make it in this business. You need to sell your work off to the highest bidder otherwise your fans will turn around and tear you down for not giving them MORE. MORE. MORE.

    I’m (silently) moving onto the next subject now…

  • anonymous

    Interesting fact: the voice of Calvin is done by the same person that does the voice of Bart in the italian dubbed version of The Simpsons.

  • JulisgG

    Stiv, I don’t have it here in front of me but I’m all but certain that Watterson reiterated his basic opposition to licensing in the Complete Calvin & Hobbes boxset released in 2005. Not that it matters much to the current debates but I thought I’d put it out there.

    Amy, I agree whole heartedly with your attitude on a personal level. If I produced a popular icon, I would love to see it on t-shirts and plush toys and most anything else. I’d want some control to prevent really bad licensing but I’d love to know a fan wanted to wear, hug, or drink out of my creation.

    Likewise, I am a glutton for licensing. I have a room dedicated to Looney Tunes collectibles and toys. My office has Dr. Seuss characters on the desk and DiscWorld figurines on the shelves. I’m the audience movie character action figures are developed for. If I’m a fan of your work, you’ve got at least one customer if you put out a mouse pad, china set, or seat cover.

    But all that said, I still understand that Watterson’s beliefs do not match my own. And in respect to his talent, it bothers me to see his wishes denied.

  • Bill

    Would have been better if they’d stayed on model…

  • Well, there’s always the possibility that this animator, being in a foreign country, didn’t know about Watterson’s stance on merchandising and other media where C&H is concerned… granted, I kinda doubt that, as seeing how much care the animator put into duplicating Watterson’s style, I’d say its an even bet he’s a fan…

    Of course, someday (assuming copyright terms don’t get extended infinitely), C&H will become public domain – not that we’ll probably live to see it – but I think it’s a fair bet that someday, somehow, people will see more done with the character, if it’s still popular in that future time…

  • KarmaRocketX

    Well honestly, that Robot Chicken parody WAS fairly disgusting and disgraceful and made me about as sick as the previous poster noted. I really don’t care if someone objects to me saying that, becuase that’s exactly what I think of it.

    But this Italian student film is quite nice. The voice for Calvin is off, but it’s Italian, so I won’t give it too much critisism.

    The animation style is very nice, though.

  • John A

    Nice work, would have liked to see more Hobbes. As for their voices, why give them voices at all? I’d love to see a lot of silent animation featuring these characters.

  • Soos

    Maybe Bill Watterson objected to the use of his characters simply because it could get people to laud a pretty mediocre student film.

    Since no one else will say it: the animation is pretty bad.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Maybe Bill Watterson objected to the use of his characters simply because it could get people to laud a pretty mediocre student film.
    >Since no one else will say it: the animation is pretty bad.

    Seems like the attitude here is one of being mixed upon seeing this. I personally enjoyed this myself, despite the fact that it’s obvious this was carefully adapted from the strips as opposed to making up something originally on your own. I usually don’t have much to say about voice work (especially in foreign productions), but I thought the animation was perfect to how I want to see C&H presented. This is a student film of course, and nowhere near how it might’ve been handled on a professional/commercial level.

    Again, I think this is the case where as time goes by, history would think less and less of Watterson for his own beliefs verses what the public wanted in the end. If only there had been a few licensed items that could’ve made their way to the malls like T-shirts or plushies, I would’ve been fine with it anyway if only Watterson wasn’t so uptight at seeing his characters off the newsprint stock.

    Having just seen the Robot Chicken thing, yeah, that was really disgusting at how they ripped on that one. Those guys tend to take any old idea and run with it in such a manner that resembled something I remember me and my older brother once doing as impove recordings on a tape player 20 years ago. It was our version of “toilet humor” we’d thought never would ever get shown on TV, period. I guess I was wrong (and why magazines like Mad just can’t cut it in print as well as the TV show). This RC segment kinda reminded me of MADtv’s “Son of Goliath” in some way too, probably just the obvious “kid goes homicidal” shtick.

    For someone bringing up wanting a Hobbes plushie earlier, I’m being reminded of the Opus plushies of the 80’s, I never had one though (getting one off eBay would be out of the question for me too as I just can’t get nostalgic with a used one). Maybe Breathed will bring that back one day, but I think it’s too late to get all retro with that (unless a complete Bloom County omnibus isn’t in the works, lord knows I want to read tha

    Speaking of such, there was this student film that came out of CalArts in the 80’s by four animators (Tony Fucile, Bob Scott, Dale McBeath and Doug Frankel), based on possibly a week’s worth of Bloom County strips they used in producing their short that predates Breathed’s TV special, “A Wish for Wings that Work” but about 5-6 years or so (the first and only time Opus and such were ever animated), entitled “The Great Snake Massacre”. The animation in that was pretty OK IMO, despite the fact it must’ve been a challenge to them to adapt what might’ve been a series of four-panel strips into a two minute piece.

    I wanted to stick this up on YouTube, but was a tad concerned over the legalities of said piece, let alone the limitations of my recording that could get messed up by YouTube’s flash encoding, as most of these older CalArts pieces I got on a disc years ago were not standard video telecine jobs, often resembling the typical “point camcorder at projector screen, press record” deal. My copy already suffers from having the iris control going out of wack for being set to “auto” than “manual”, and the picture is slighty out-of-focus. But I can still make out slighty what’s going on and found it to be a very enjoyable piece (much like Jim Reardon’s “Bring Me The Head of Charlie Brown”). I’m not sure if Breathed ever knew this film was made at all, but it’s just another of those cases where students in a college setting would often do these kinds of works that wouldn’t get any publicity otherwise, or questioning any legal risks which aren’t usually the case in private uses that in the pre-internet days, would often take years before they’re ever found (like the Jim Reardon film I mentioned earlier).

  • Luke

    well, it was animated directly from drawings of the comic strip itself, especially from Sunday comics.

  • Impressive animation and direction even though it is based on another’s art and concept. It makes the CalArts student work look shamefully inadequate.

  • wishful thinking :(
    I just wish the damned strip would come back. Having an animation would be lovely but lets take baby steps :D

  • For what it’s worth, at least some YouTube postings of this Calvin piece have been deleted now, with the explicit statement that the removals are “due to a copyright claim by Bill Watterson.”
    Take that for what all of you will.

  • Rick2Tails

    That was a very unexpected treat.I can see how its obviously been taken from poses from the comic strips. But it is a great “what if” . I do wish artists have their wishes respected. But say if an artist creates something and then immediately destroys it (to take an extreme example) Is respecting such wishes of having something never shared with anyone logical?If something isnt shared with anyone else,if something is never made derivative fan works,if it never has anything made of it officaly ,it will simply be as if it never exhisted. I have the fear C&H will be forgottten by the vast majority of people soon.It will become a lost gem .And thats a shame.I wish Bill didnt hide in his cave grumbling and hating the world. It would be so neat to see other creations from him even if he feels he has nohing more to say with C&H.

  • Patrick

    C&H will not be forgotten, the same way Peanuts has not been forgotten. It may not remain as popular as said comic due to the fact that it’s no longer around, but it will be remembered as one of the greatest comic strips ever.

  • SynjoDeonecros

    David Gerstein says:

    For what it’s worth, at least some YouTube postings of this Calvin piece have been deleted now, with the explicit statement that the removals are “due to a copyright claim by Bill Watterson.”
    Take that for what all of you will.

    That doesn’t say much, actually, since YouTube is notorious for not checking whether or not the person making the claim is actually who they say they are. One infamous incident involved several videos (of I believe Star Trek, it’s been a while and I can’t remember precisely) being reported for copyright infringement by some random guy who reported them under a false business name. And it worked; the videos were taken down by YouTube without incident or any apparent research into what was clearly a pseudonym. So, yeah, it’s really dodgy when something is taken down because of a “copyright claim” by someone, so we should take that statement with an Ayers Rock-sized grain of salt.