Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes creator, quietly walked away from comic strips in 1995. Watterson’s artwork and clever writing managed to captivated audiences by reminding them of their childhood. In Calvin, he developed a character who struck the perfect balance between child like innocence and real world struggles.
Now, Bill Watterson is releasing new artwork again. But it won’t be for a regular comic strip. Instead, it is for a new documentary that has just been released on iTunes titled, Stripped. The documentary takes a look at the history of comic strips, why they have been so successful, and what will happen to the lovable medium in the future digital world. Besides having Bill Watterson and his first audio recorded interview, the documentary features Jim Davis (Garfield), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), Jeff Keane (The Family Circus), and many more.
Webcartoonist and co-director Dave Kellett had the distinguished honor of being the first person to record an interview with Watterson. But Kellett had much more in mind for the Calvin and Hobbes creator. He wanted the Bill Watterson to actually design the poster for the new movie release.
Aside from supplying a few sentences to the documentary, I’m not involved with the film, so Dave’s request to draw the poster came completely out of the blue,” Watterson told Comic Riffs of the Washington Post. “It sounded like fun, and maybe something people wouldn’t expect, so I decided to give it a try. Dave sent me a rough cut of the film and I dusted the cobwebs off my ink bottle.”
There has only been one other known public piece of work attributed to Bill Watterson since the Calvin and Hobbes series ended. As part of a charity collaboration with Cul de Sacartist Richard Thompson, he painted an oil painting to raise money for Parkinson’s research.
In the documentary, Watterson reveals his artist’s heart for comic strips. For him, the comic is about connecting with the reader in a way that few mediums can. “In the right hands, a comic strip attains a beauty and an elegance that really I would put against any other art.” Bill Watterson owns a pair of those right hands, able to bring beauty, elegance, and the art of storytelling to the comic strip.
If fans of comic strip art aren’t interested in the digital copy of the Stripped documentary, the DVD version will go on sale on April 2nd. And for fans who look forward to more Calvin and Hobbes styled artwork from creator Bill Watterson, unfortunately this may be as close as we can get.