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Disagreeing with Bill Watterson, illustrated in the style of Bill Watterson

Aug 30, 2013 By Abraham

A few days ago, a comic drawn in the style of Calvin and Hobbes went around online. The text was an old quote from Bill Watterson about how to live a fulfilling life.

Watterson’s thoughts could be read as being slightly critical of those who spend their lives buckled down working for the man. So in critical response, David Willis of ShortPacked did his own comic also (somewhat) in the style of Calvin and Hobbes…

Disagreeing with Bill Watterson in the Style of Bill Watterson


  1. ssssstrick says:

    This annoys me. Watterson’s message was put to a comic he didn’t draw, so it was easy to lose it. But if you read it and ignore the story in the visual, the quote is solid.

    Do what makes you happy. Be the person you want to be. Corporate ladders and large companies aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Find the career that makes you happy, and if you’ve found a way to stay home with your kids, good for you! He doesn’t condemn “traditional” jobs, he encourages the reader to “invent your own life’s meaning” and ignore the background noise of others telling you what to do.

    That message is worth reading, even if the cartoon it’s paired with makes a specific statement. This guy, above, just sounds like a whiny butthead. And Watterson never said “don’t make money.” People stay home, own their own freelancing businesses, and all the while they pay the bills (sometimes even better than a corporate gig will pay). So just go away, “some jerk in his thirties,” you missed the point and look a fool.

  2. Steven says:

    The main difference between the 2 comics is that the first one was clever and well thought out…the second one is subtle like a baseball bat to the head. I think the point of Bill Watterson’s words was either missed or ignored by the author of the second comic. I work as a musician and have never made much money, but I’ve never regretted it. If you’re looking for a regular paycheck, perhaps the arts is not the way to go.

    1. Agreed says:

      I agree, by bundling Watterson with other ‘sellouts’ the author totally missed the point of Watterson’s quote, which was reflected in his life. Not only did he live at home doing what he loved (C&H) he also REFUSED to ‘sell out’ and allow his characters to be marketed in any other form than his comics.

  3. Simon says:

    I think it misrepresents Watterson to read his thoughts as being “critical of those who spend their lives buckled down working for the man,” especially the workers who have to do so for survival or necessity. Perhaps such a reading is part of a propensity to see things in terms of the individual.

    If anything, Watterson was being very sympathetic to the workers who feel buckled down by an economy and a culture that creates such unfree and alienating working conditions. His thoughts were given sympathetically, after all, to graduating students entering the workforce, and the cartoon adaptation is most sympathetic to its worker protagonist. To think Watterson is critiquing workers says more about how the reader/respondent (“Some Jerk In His Thirties”) thinks than about who, or more precisely *what,* Watterson is actually critiquing.

    It’s quite clear the antagonist isn’t even just a boss or “the man,” but literally: “a *culture* that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life.” That’s a *social* problem, not an individual one. Thus, it’s not the responsibility of one oppressed individual worker to just pick themselves up from their bootstraps and liberate themselves by their own individual free will. Watterson’s work has never been about that. Rather, it’s the responsibility of social groups—from the little family in the cartoon up to and including the whole of society—to create the conditions of freedom in a different culture that supports the pursuit of a good life where meaning and happiness can be found in relationships and simpler things.

    How do we create those conditions together? That’s the question the cartoon begs but doesn’t answer. Workers can either fight with each other because they think only individuals can come up with the answers, in which case there will be few answers, if any, that actually work. Hence the frustration in “Some Jerk’s” response to Watterson that basically says we’re all trapped so we might as well just accept things as they are. Or, we can work together to come up with social and political answers that help create conditions of freedom, meaning, and happiness.

    The latter isn’t as impossible as “Some Jerk” might think. If we think a little more socially, there are plenty of good answers. As a society, Germany just decided they’re going to provide tuition-free post-secondary education, and that means a lot of people who can’t otherwise afford to go to university can now go. They might find a bit more meaning and happiness in the experience and even the work that follows. The United States has cooperative work enterprises popping up all the time. With more social and political support given to such cooperative enterprises, more people will be able to work in environments where they are not only paid well, but have a say over their own work so that it’s a little more meaningful and fulfilling. The dreams of a society become a little more possible if we think a little more socially, as so many American treasures have taught us, from Watterson to MLK….

  4. Chelsi says:

    LOL I laughed and laughed at this. He may have misrepresented Watterson, but the humor still stands. I have friends who actually think like this “caricature” of Watterson, who believe that people who actually earn money, have a savings account, and live responsibly are sell-outs. I need to show this to them.

  5. Quietus says:

    You guys are all dumb. The second comic is making fun of the first one for being pretentious and cutesy as hell. As great as Calvin and Hobbes is, so many people who profess to love it are annoying in their adoration of the comic. They’re usually ’90s Nostalgia kids types.

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