Bill Watterson on Why We Won't See a 'Calvin and Hobbes' Movie

The famously reclusive cartoonist breaks his silence about his much-loved newspaper cartoon strip.
Bill Watterson
The famously reclusive cartoonist breaks his silence about his much-loved newspaper cartoon strip.

Bill Watterson, the reclusive cartoonist behind Calvin & Hobbes, has finally broken his silence about his work on the classic newspaper strip, and part of the interview has been released online ahead of the official release of the whole thing -- including the reason why Watterson will never allow a movie version of the strip.

"The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes," Watterson told Jake Rossen via e-mail in a piece for Mental Floss magazine. "If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it."

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He went on to say that the myth of his control over the strip was just that, and that he "did not have incredible autonomy" until the strip's completion. "I had signed most of my rights away in order to get syndicated, so I had no control over what happened to my own work," Watterson explained. "I could not take the strip with me if I quit, or even prevent the syndicate from replacing me, so I was truly scared I was going to lose everything I cared about either way. I made a lot of impassioned arguments for why a work of art should reflect the ideas and beliefs of its creator, but the simple fact was that my contract made that issue irrelevant."

Other myths are shattered in the small excerpt released on the Mental Floss website, including that Watterson didn't really set fire to a box of unsolicited, unapproved Calvin and Hobbes merchandise -- "It was only my head that burst into flames," he joked.

The full e-mail exchange between Watterson and Rossen will appear in the December issue of Mental Floss. Coincidentally, Dear Mr. Watterson, an entirely separate documentary about the impact of Calvin and Hobbes and Watterson's work, will be released Nov. 15.