Watterson's talent is pretty hard to get over. What's the big idea, making a cartoon so consisently funny, explosively creative and accessibly brilliant that no other cartoonist could ever hope to match wits? When I saw the first Calvin strips in my paper several years ago, I knew it was something special. Here's a little kid more clever than most adults, whose stuffed friend comes to life and has philosophical debates with him while they careen down a gully in a wagon.
Calvin and Hobbes is more than a comic strip, and that's what makes it so special. Far Side and Dilbert are clever and hilarious as well, but Calvin's creator has an artistic talent that will not be confined. The everyday life of his six-year-old protagonist is frequently spliced with daydreams--Spaceman Spiff, Dinosaurs, etc.--which are consistently staggering in their rendering. It's art good enough for Marvel but stylistically superior. In the later years he was arguing with newspapers for half- or full-page spaces that would do his work justice.
What impresses me perhaps the most about Watterson, though, is his integrity. From the great beginning that is this book, up through the end, he refused to have his art form violated by commercialism. Calvin will be found ONLY on the printed page, not on TV, not on a baseball cap (save the amateur ones), not in a breakfast cereal, nor action figures, nor a fanclub, nor a box of fruit snacks. Watterson was true to the integrity of his character. What's more, he quit while he was ahead--before his strip could become repetitive, but after its potential had been fully explored.
So buy this book, if you haven't already. In fact, do yourself a favor and buy every Calvin collection, because each is completely flawless. Calvin and Hobbes is the best cartoon that ever was, and it's the best cartoon that will ever be. I'd bet my sense of humor on it.