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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 06/11/2010

'CALVIN MINUS HOBBES': Even Miss Wormwood might shudder at this new math

By Michael Cavna


calvinminus.jpg courtesy of Jeff Ocean / Calvin Minus Hobbes

"Garfield Minus Garfield" is a joy to read, with a twist that's not just sending up the strip but also spinning it with a winningly surreal bent. Then, on the flip side, there's the new "Calvin Minus Hobbes."

Dan Walsh's Garfield-parodying webcomic wryly claims to plumb the "existential angst of a certain Mr. Jon Arbuckle" by removing the titular kitty from the sarcastic and assaultive proceedings. But what happens when you expunge the "alive" feline from Bill Watterson's beloved strip? Well, to be honest: I'm still not sure what I'm feeling.

Surreal? If anything, it's perhaps too real.

The seed of genius with "Calvin and Hobbes," of course, lies in the comic's boundless sense of imagination. But when Hobbes is rendered only as the lifeless "doll" version of the tiger -- just as everyone but Calvin saw him -- not only the toy sits limp. So does the boy -- and the sense of Calvin as a true, fantasy-rich 6-year-old.

As DailyCartoonist.com's Alan Gardner reports this week, the "Calvin Minus Hobbes" creator Jeff Ocean is ending the exercise. "They're too sad," Ocean says. "If any brave soul wants to take up the project, a la Garfield minus Garfield, have at it."

Perhaps the early exit is a good thing, before it all got too sad and it tonally morphed into "Calvin and Hobbes: When Derkins Met Durkheim." Beyond that, if nothing else, these attempts at addition-by-subtraction exercises reveal at least a little about how we feel about the original strips and characters.

Meantime, if any brave soul wants to take up a new project, might you consider "Pearls Minus Fourth-Wall Pastis"? "Blondie Minus Eight Decades of Botox"? Or "Beetle Minus a Homicidal Sarge Constantly Expressing Unresolved Conflict With Mom/Dad/His Own Sense of Cosmic Impotence"?

Just don't touch our Hobbes.

If you've got a reaction to "Calvin Minus Hobbes," then hey -- fire away.
.

By Michael Cavna  | June 11, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Bill Watterson, Calvin Minus Hobbes, Dan Walsh, Garfield Minus Garfield, Jeff Ocean, Jim David  
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Comments

Isn't this called Frazz?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 11, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

How about Calvin and Suzie? Maybe the cartoonist could put a little 9 Chickweed lust into it. Doesn't look like Frazz will go there. :-)

Posted by: schafer-family | June 11, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

'Garfield minus Garfield' is moronic.
'Calvin Minus Hobbes' is doubly so.

Both are examples of stupidity that people turn out when they're incapable of creating something clever and original themselves. They know they can get away with it and get some attention because somewhere, someone will say, 'Oh, how clever! How cutting-edge!'

Give me a break.

Posted by: paullp | June 11, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's better than that hideously awful new Weingarten strip.

Posted by: pltrgyst | June 11, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Although I have no particular interest in seeing it continued, I thought that "Calvin minus Hobbes" was a very intriguing experiment. It helps to have read the originals repeatedly, of course, but I found that I could recall a shocking percentage of "Hobbes" dialog just from the visual cues. In addition to proving just how vital "Hobbes" is to the structure of the strip, it was also an amusing counterpoint to "Garfield minus Garfield", showing just how superfluous Garfield has become.

Posted by: kilby | June 14, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

Terrible, terrible idea. "Garfield Minus Garfied" is stupid, but at least it makes sense. "Garfield" is a lazy, poorly developed strip. The idea behind the "minus" premise is to mock the stupidity of the entire cartoon (at least I hope it is). "Calvin & Hobbes" is arguably the single greatest strip ever developed. Why would ANY want to tamper with it? Idiotic.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | June 14, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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