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Bill Watterson: I Have Zero Interest in Animating “Calvin and Hobbes”

The notoriously reclusive Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, granted an email interview to Jake Rossen of Mental Floss. Watterson doesn’t reveal anything that could be considered news, but he allows his fans to breathe a sigh of relief by reaffirming his commitment to keeping Calvin and Hobbes out of the clutches of Hollywood:

“The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes. If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.”

Watterson empathizes with the audience’s natural urge for sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots, but suggests that it’s a creative dead-end for an artist:

“You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.”

He also comments unsparingly on the various unofficial animated versions of his comic that have appeared online in recent years:

“Every artist learns through imitation, but I rather doubt the aim of these things is artistic development. I assume they’re either homages or satiric riffs, and are not intended to be taken too seriously as works in their own right. Otherwise I should be talking to a copyright lawyer.”

It’s easy to dismiss Watterson as a curmudgeon, but his observations in the interview about the future of comics suggest otherwise. Watterson comes across as intelligent, thoughtful, interested and optimistic about the continuing evolution of the art form.

He has achieved something that few artists can claim today, and that is fame and fortune without having to compromise his vision or principles. He puts this all into perspective with self-effacing charm when asked for an opinion about the unofficial “Calvin peeing” car decals:

I figure that, long after the strip is forgotten, those decals are my ticket to immortality.

The complete interview with Watterson will be published in the December print edition of Mental Floss.