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The Complete Calvin and Hobbes [Box Set]
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes [Box Set]
Bill Watterson
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005
1440 pp., $195.00

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Sarah Hinlicky Wilson


A New Kind of Calvinism

The theology of a comic strip.

First you have to heft it. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes feels like a critical edition. It's the work of ten years, once at a peak circulation of 2,400 newspapers, 3,160 strips in all, first collected in 17 books with 30 million copies already in print, now assembled in a 22-and-a-half pound, three-volume set running to 1,440 pages. Every strip—from the beginning in November 1985 to the last day of 1995—plus every cover from the individual collections, as well as the bonus material in the treasury collections, finds its place here. The CC&H has a few things the previous publications lack, such as colored Sunday panels from Attack of the Killer Monster Snow Goons, a new essay by Watterson with some kinder words about Universal Syndicate (with whom he battled for years over licensing rights), and early comic incarnations of Calvin with his hair in his eyes like the eventual bully Moe. If it is still a trifle less than Compleat—it lacks the commentary of The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book and the black-and-white originals of Sunday pages in the gallery edition of Calvin and Hobbes Sunday Pages 1985-1995—it is an impressive testimony to the cultural significance of the strip all the same.

Calvin and Hobbes thus bookended stands as an oeuvre, a body of work, and inevitably invites scholarship. Calvin himself set the stage for it with his infamous report on "Bats: The Big Bug Scourge of the Skies," and his academically adept book report, "The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes." And so, at this inauguration of a new wave of Calvinism, and in honor of the icon of total depravity himself, a few predictions about the future of the field are in order.

There will be, of course, compilations of mere trivia. For instance, one might list the six R-rated movies Calvin tries to see despite Mom and Rosalyn's proscriptions: Venusian Vampire Vixens, Attack of the Coed Cannibals, ...

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