'Calvin and Hobbes' Rare Artwork to Be Auctioned; Expected to Fetch More Than $50,000

Calvin and Hobbes Magical World Cover - H 2012
<p>Calvin and Hobbes Magical World Cover - H 2012</p>   |   Bill Watterson
The only piece of published art from the famous comic strip ever offered to the public goes on sale Feb. 23.

The only piece of original Calvin and Hobbes artwork to be publicly auctioned will be sold by Heritage Auctions of Dallas on Feb. 23, with a presale low estimate of $50,000.

The art comes from the cover of the 1989-1990 Calvin and Hobbes calendar and features Calvin and his toy tiger Hobbes sleeping under a tree. The art was a gift from artist Bill Watterson to comics historian Rick Marschall--whose name is inscribed on it--and has been in his private collection for the last twenty years. 

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Watterson’s original Calvin and Hobbes art is among the very rarest collectibles of a living comics artist. The notoriously reclusive Watterson--he's only given one published interview since 1989--deposited his entire archive at The Ohio State University's Museum of Cartoon Art.  Reportedly a few individual strips have changed hands on the private market. Heritage Auctions sold a Watterson Calvin and Hobbes sketch a few years ago, but nothing comparable to this piece has ever been offered for public sale.

Watterson also never licensed his creations so there are no Calvin and Hobbes t-shirts or stuffed toys. He never sold any of his artwork, and rarely gave it away. Only a very small handful of originals have ever come onto the market, none from published artwork, and none in such pristine condition.

“It’s hard to state exactly how desirable this gorgeous piece of art is to collectors of all sorts, not just those interested in comic art,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “This one has it all, truly. It shows Calvin & Hobbes in a rare moment of total peace and repose – it is the philosophical heart and soul of that great comic.”

Watterson wrote and drew the Calvin and Hobbes newspaper strip from 1985 to 1995. It followed the adventures of Calvin, a hyperactive little boy with a vast imagination and his stuffed tiger and best friend, Hobbes, who appeared real to Calvin.  The wit, charm, and intelligence of the strip made it among the most popular newspaper features of its time.

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At the peak of the strip’s popularity in 1995, Watterson retired, shuttering the adventures of the pair and breaking the hearts of millions of readers by publically stating he had achieved all he could with his beloved cast of characters. Since then Watterson has shunned the public eye, living a quiet life in suburban Cleveland. Calvin and Hobbes remains popular though, with reruns still available in newspapers and collected editions available in bookstores.

“Beyond the Peanuts comic strips of legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz, there is no more popular comic strip and certainly no strip where the original art is more in demand,” said Hignite. “The difference being that original Schulz work can be had at a variety of price points. Original Calvin and Hobbes artwork has, simply, never come up for public auction. There’s really no telling how high collectors will be willing to go on this one.”

See the Calvin and Hobbes art for sale below:

(image courtesy of Heritage Auctions)