Movie Review: Dear Mr. Watterson

Between November 18, 1985 and December 31, 1995 there were 3150 cartoon strips by Bill Watterson featuring a little boy named Calvin (after John Calvin) and a small stuffed tiger named Hobbes (after Thomas Hobbes).  Watterson was following in the tradition of other great newspaper cartoonists such as Walt Kelly (Pogo), Windsor McKay (Little Nemo), and George Herriman (Krazy Kat) in creating a cartoon that took imagination and fun and illustrated it in the guise of a normal boy and his beloved toy.

This film looks both at Calvin and Hobbes and Bill Watterson and talks with Watterson’s cartoonist contemporaries about his work how it affected their work and how his view of art influenced him on whether or not he would license his characters the same way Charles Schultz did his characters.

This is a film of a fan, which is obvious from the very beginning of the movie.  But I didn’t mind I too am a fan of Calvin and Hobbes as I consider it one of the last great newspaper cartoon strips.  In fact with the newspapers slowly going out of business one of the first things that go is the comic page.  When I was a child the comic page was usually five complete pages that had no ads attached to them.  And the comics on that page were huge.  One strip could take up half the page and the art work on them was amazing.  This film also comments on that and the laments of the artists that see this art form disappearing with the digitizing of cartoon strips.

Also this film shows where Bill Watterson grew up and you can see in the town and the woods around the town where his ideas of the woods where Calvin and Hobbes wander came from.  You also see some of his first work in the town newspaper and his high school where his art work sprinkled the year book.

I really enjoyed this film and I enjoyed learning more about Watterson and how his comic about a mischievous boy and  his stuffed tiger has transcended the popular culture in which it was created to become an endearing symbol of fun and imagination.

I give this film four and a half stuffed tigers out of five