Dear Mr. Watterson is a documentary about Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip that was extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Directed by Joel Allan Schroeder (the fact that his family name is the same as another popular comic strip character, the piano-playing prodigy in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, doesn’t escape me) and produced by Christopher Browne and Matt Mcusic off a fund off Kickstarter – y’all know I would’ve given my right arm to help fund this film! – Dear Mr. Watterson is a film that sets off to answer the question, “How did a ‘simple’ comic strip become so meaningful to such a massive and diverse group of people, and in such a short span of time?”
The film documents the filmmakers’ search for an answer, leading them into an exciting and introspective journey into the art of comics, the possibilities of art, and Watterson’s decisions that have cemented his legacy. His notorious reluctance to merchandise his strip other than books, his reclusive nature, and his amazing ability to document the human condition from the perspective of a little boy and his tiger, has and will always have a profound effect on millions of readers across the globe, myself included.
Calvin and Hobbes has profoundly affected my life, and continues to. In 1995, a few months before Mr. Watterson decided to retire his strip, I got my first Calvin and Hobbes tattoo on my left arm. Almost 20 years later, I have two more: one each of Calvin and Hobbes running and having a grand old time on my left and right ankles.
I also find it wonderfully appropriate that my son, Nathan, is also enjoying Calvin and Hobbes immensely. More than just the sheer humor of the strip, what we find so amazing about the strip is how there are always new layers to peel away, new insights to glean, new ideas to be birthed by this beautifully illustrated, immaculately written comic strip.
The film’s introduction says, “When the strip’s creator, Bill Watterson, retired the strip on New Year’s Eve in 1995, devoted readers everywhere felt the void left by the departure of Calvin, Hobbes, and Watterson’s other cast of characters, and many fans would never find a satisfactory replacement.” I totally agree. This is one of the many reasons why I need to see this film!
A special tip o’ the hat to Karen who alerted me to the existence of Dear Mr. Watterson. So blessed that she thought of me when she read about the film; my reputation as a Calvin & Hobbes freak precedes me! LOL