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Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. März 2015

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"America's Most Profound Comic Strip" (Christopher Caldwell, The Wall Street Journal)

"Bill Watterson talks: This is why you must read the new ‘Exploring Calvin and Hobbes’ book ... For any true fan of cartooning, it is a must-read, a must-buy, a must-pick-up ...

"Bill Watterson has delivered a gift, a trip down memory lane that is populated densely on each side with personal and professional insights — some grippingly specific, some that ring universal, many that resonate as both." (Michael Cavna, The Washington Post)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Bill Watterson is the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, one of the most popular and well-regarded cartoon strips of the twentieth century. Calvin and Hobbes appeared in newspapers from November 1985 until Watterson's retirement in 1995.



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Format: Taschenbuch
Bill Watterson, an US author of comic ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ became known not only because of his popular comic, but also because of way he stopped working on ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ – back in 1995 he sent a short letter to newspaper informing his fans that he felt he had achieved all he could in the comic medium.

Since then, Watterson was almost invisible to public; he avoided contact with media and fans, until finally a year ago he published his first cartoon after the abrupt end of ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ - a poster for the documentary Stripped. For this reason, the release of this book for me as a sincere fan of author’s work was very interesting and long-awaited day.

Basically, ‘Exploring Calvin and Hobbes’ is an exhibition catalogue, as it is written on front cover, in which on 160 pages are listed all the important information about the Watterson life and professional career - starting from those who influenced his work, overview of his early works, tools he used when producing his known comic, overview of his characters, overview of the ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ seasons, variations he used on a single theme or idea, and most importantly long and original interview Jenny Robb made with Watterson last year fans awaited for decades.

It would be insufficient to only say that this book should definitely be read and enjoyed, it is a highly interesting work that will be especially appreciated by the artists because of ideas that can be found inside, while techniques and explanations of the author will help all those who themselves want to go his way or simply want to learn about the background of his exceptional work of art.
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Nice insights on Bill Watterson, funny at times, serirous at others. Definitely something to get if you appreciate Calvin and Hobbes.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Incredible Interview and Commentary by Watterson 12. März 2015
Von j douglas sanders - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
(originally posted at jdouglassanders.blogspot.com)

I have had Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue on preorder ever since I first heard about it.  It arrived on the release day, Tuesday, March 10 (thanks Amazon Prime!) and, of course, I read it immediately! It is a pretty quick read, but, for me anyway, this will be a book I will end up rereading and using more in the long run as reference and inspiration.

Let me just go ahead and say this:  If you even think you want this book or have the slightest interest in "Calvin and Hobbes" or the daily comic strip format whatsoever-  Stop reading this and buy the book right now.  It is that good and it is that important to comic strip history.

If you're still here, I'll outline what to expect from the book and one thing I wish the publisher had done.

The book

The book itself is printed on really nice, thick, glossy paper.  It is 152 pages long not including an 8 page preface.  The book retails for $19.99 but you can probably get it cheaper here at Amazon (I did).

The book is a little smaller than the landscape format treasuries.  It is the same width as the Sunday Pages book but not quite as tall.

The book is beautiful.  Artwork ornaments almost every page, even in the interview.  Some of the artwork is full color.  The majority is reprinted original artwork.  This original artwork is mostly black ink on paper.  If you look closely, you can make out penciling, correction, paste ups of copyright info strips, and other such "behind the scenes" things.  

Looking at Watterson's originals, I am reminded of Schulz's work where there's actually not a lot to see beyond the actual comic.  As Schulz, Watterson is a tremendous artistic talent in the daily strip field and there doesn't seem to be a lot of revealing correction or revision going on.  I think this is indicative of the amount of planning and writing both artists put in before ink every touched the comic board.  Still, the bits of process you can divine from these reproductions is fascinating.

The presentation of the material is as if you are there, touring the Watterson exhibit at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  The text reads as a museum exhibit plaque might, describing the piece of artwork you are looking at on the page.  Having the book seems to be the next best thing to actually seeing the exhibit when it was on display at the museum.

The interview

Face it.  This is why you bought the book.  

You've read every Calvin and Hobbes strip a hundred times, own every treasury, the complete hardcover set, the complete soft cover set, the 10th anniversary book, the book devoted to the Sunday strips, and you've read every scrap of information you can find on the net about Watterson and his creation.

Ok, maybe that's just me.

But the interview is why you're getting the book.  Watterson speaks!

The rest of the book is great, but after the interview, it is bonus material. 

Anyway, in case you didn't know, the book starts with a wonderful interview between Jenny Robb and Bill Watterson that goes on until page 35.  It is a basic Q and A type setup with Watterson's artwork throughout.  Very nice.  

If you are a C&H completist or enthusiast, some of the information will be rehash-  Mr. Watterson's career path that led him to C&H, how the camping strips are based on real life experiences, Calvin's dad was based on Watterson's father, the way Watterson challenged (and changed) the Sunday strip format.  

But, even for the enthusiast, there is a lot of new information presented here.  Mr. Watterson comes across very well.  Not at all the bitter hermit his "reputation" might suggest.  He seems very down to earth and humble, almost to the point of being dismissive of his own talent.  

He describes a lot of the process that went into creating C&H. He describes how he juggled the unique demands of writing/drawing a daily comic strip, how he handled the balance of daily gags with longer story arcs, and one particular account of how he lost his lead on his deadline (and how he got it back).  I personally love Watterson's comments on anti-plot. Great information for those interested in creative process.

Toward the end, Watterson gives (hopefully) a definitive answer to why he ceased the strip and an optimistically (for me anyway) vague answer to whether he would consider doing another comic strip.  And, of course, you can't have any form of media featuring Bill Watterson without the obligatory discussion of merchandising.

Some of the most fascinating parts of the interview involve Watterson's discussion on his attitude toward the future of the daily comic strip format and what has happened during the fragmentation of our pop culture.  
During the technology portion of the interview, I also had a great mental image of Calvin's dad (as an analog for Bill Watterson) fumbling with an iPad while trying to read his online newspaper.  You'll know what I'm talking about when you read it!

After the interview, the remainder of the book is divided into chapters focusing on different topics.  The first 3 are a chronological look at the development of Watterson as an artist (Influences, Early Work, and Getting Syndicated).

In Influences, Bill Watterson describes influences on his comic work.  Each book page is devoted to an artist and has a sample piece of artwork from the artist, as well as commentary by Watterson.  Artists featured here start with the oft mentioned influences of Schulz, Kelly, and Herriman. But this group is also extended to include Alex Raymond, Trudeau, Berke Breathed, Oliphant, Borgman, and Ralph Steadman.

The influence artwork is presented in the same manner as Watterson's own:  Ink on paper original submissions.  

The strips are well represented, especially the Walt Kelly strip.  It is evident much of the Calvin/Hobbes dynamic was pioneered in Pogo.  In fact, replace Pogo and Albert with Calvin and Hobbes and you could almost keep the same dialogue, save the swamp-speak.  

That is to take nothing away from Watterson's work.  He refined the premise and took it to a sublime level of perfection.

It is also nice to see influences acknowledged by Watterson that go beyond his big 3 (Peanuts, Pogo, and Krazy Kat).    

Early Work
Influences is followed by Early Work.  A few political cartoons followed by a couple Watterson's early strip submissions to syndicates.  The last couple strips end up being about a sort of Proto-Calvin named Marvin, only with bangs covering his eyes.

The pieces are all here, its just time to get them into place.  You can see the teddy bear with the almost-Hobbes-face in a talking animal strip Watterson pitched.  There's little blond boy with a tiger named "Hobbes" in the next strip.  Marvin, our missing link to Calvin, battles Mrs. Wormwood in the next strip, complete with Spaceman Spiff-esque imaginings. 

It is as if all these ideas perfect stormed into a cohesive strip.  Maybe that's just part of the magic of Watterson's work.

Getting Submitted
Getting Syndicated is a page of the original C&H submission follow by a page of the first 3 C&H dailies. Even in the submission strips, you can see the Calvin we would all read for the next 10 years.  He may have a little different hairstyle, but it's him alright.  

This section is followed by a two page spread featuring the art supplies Watterson used drawing the strip.

I have to admit, I love to read about the tools artists use.  Whether it be drawing or photography or writing or whatever, I like to talk tools.  It is easy to fall back on the old cliche of "it is the artist, not the brush", but an artist's choice of tools can give precious insight into their process and their choice can drastically impact their final results.

One especially interesting piece is the mechanical pencil Watterson's father bought him as a child that was used to pencil all of the Calvin and Hobbes strips.  That is how far this book takes you into not just the world of C&H, but the creation of it as well.

The remainder of the book is a look at different facets of the strip, devoting a chapter to each topic.  The following is a quick overview.

If you've read Calvin and Hobbes, you know there's not a lot of characters to discuss.  It's basically Calvin, Hobbes, Calvin and Hobbes (the book lists them together as a character), Calvin's parents, and then the "supporting cast" (Susie, Rosalyn, Moe, and Mrs. Wormwood).  

This section illustrates the power of the simplified approach Watterson took to his strip.  While Peanuts is an excellent strip, one weakness often cited is the confusing, sometimes weak, sometimes redundant cast of characters.  Of course Schulz had 50 years of strips to fill, but Peanuts sometimes felt as if it lost its way the farther the strip strayed from Charlie Brown and the elder Van Pelts.  

Watterson had the same basic cast, give or take (Uncle Max?), for 10 years.  His material stands very strong to this day despite/because the limited array of characters Watterson employed.

The seasons depicted in C&H may as well be another character.  Watterson made the change of seasons in Calvin's world and iconic touchstone of the strip.  The rainy freshness of spring, the unbridled release of summer, the leaves and school sessions of autumn, the snowmen and sled rides of winter-  it's all here.

This section covers recurring actions and motifs in Calvin's life.  The most obvious and well known is the first listed-  Attack of the Tiger.  (Hobbes pounced Calvin so regularly, in one strip the joke is Hobbes didn't.)  These vary from a simple one panel gag to a 16 panel slow motion reenactment.

Then 8 pages are devoted to Calvin's spacefaring alter ego, Spaceman Spiff.  Four full Sunday strips are featured.  Also, there is an examination of landscapes of the American Southwest and their influence on the vistas Watterson created for Spaceman Spiff.

Finally, a two page spread about dinosaurs gives the reader a look at Watterson's magnificent command of tyrannosaur anatomy.  I love how he can so realistically illustrate a dinosaur doing such absurd things.  Brilliant.

Calvin and Hobbes has many memorable story arcs.  Storytelling is one of many areas where C&H excelled.  Many of these arcs capture the wonder of childhood fantasy (the transmogrifier, the duplicator, time travel, the snow goons, etc.)  Many of my favorite arcs are the more serious and touching ones-  the baby racoon, when Calvin's home is broken into, the Calvinball game with Rosalyn, when Hobbes is lost.

It would be impossible to address even just a few of the most memorable ones in a book like this, so reprinted here are 11 dailies covering the transmogrifier story.  This gives a nice feel of how Watterson executed a storyline.  The transmogrifier is iconically Calvin, so this is a fitting representation for this chapter.

Social Commentary
Watterson was never afraid to address social issues with Calvin and Hobbes.  I must admit, I sometimes find Watterson's commentary a little preachy and heavy-handed-  not all of the time, but sometimes.  I don't dislike these types of strips by any means, but they can seem forced next to some of Watterson's more effortless work (see "The Meaning of Life" below).

  The strips reprinted here touch on the environment, animal treatment, talk radio, and television.  The interplay between Calvin's blind self absorption and Hobbes's dry clarity is classic.   I enjoy the parodied fanaticism Calvin has for his bizarre interests (i.e. Calvin's "Chewing" magazine) and Watterson's comments on advertising and consumerism, but those aren't included here.  This book is not meant to be a comprehensive collection, though, and the chosen strips give a nice look at how social biting the strip could be, all while keeping the cast in character.

The Meaning of Life
Calvin and Hobbes could be silly and playful but it could also be just as touching and profound.  These strips strike a chord and Watterson is truly in his element here. These strips are a huge part of what elevates the strip from a momentary diversion to fine art.

This is a short chapter featuring Watterson's mastery of watercolors.  Beautiful reproductions, but I am sure these were incredible to see at the actual exhibit.

The chapter devoted to Sunday strips is divided into two sections-  1985-1991 and 1992-1995.  Why?  During his 1991  sabbatical, Watterson proposed changes to the format of Sunday strips.  

The pre-1992 format called for strict formatting to allow editors the option of trimming the strip to their paper's needs.  This rendered the first row of Sunday panels to be basically "throwaway" panels.  Since not all papers printed the entire strip, the first row needed to be an independent gag.  
Instead of being able to use the larger Sunday format to its maximum potential, Watterson felt the art and storytelling was compromised by this set of business decisions. 

Watterson flourished in the freedom of this new format. The difference is amazing as you compare the old format and new format Sundays with the flip of a page.

The One Thing I Wish the Publisher Had Done

I understand Exploring is not meant to be the definitive version of Calvin and Hobbes for casual reading.  However, it would be my preference for original art to be reproduced at actual size (think IDW's Artist's Editions).  So, I wish they had made this book larger.  That way, it would be much closer to mirroring the experience of actually being at the exhibit.

Or, better yet, release two versions.  The smaller paperback version we have now and a huge $200-$250 edition with the artwork reprinted at ACTUAL SIZE.  It is at actual size you can really see artifacts of the artist's process.  Think of how invaluable that would be.  Most people will never own an original Watterson strip to study.  I have the The Rocketeer reproduced at actual size and the difference is huge.  

Don't let that deter you from buying this book, though.  This book is the book Calvin fans have been waiting for and it does not disappoint.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen An Amazing Gift to True Calvin and Hobbes Fans 10. April 2015
Von Spencer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
When the latest Calvin and Hobbes book appeared on my front porch, there is little chance the postman recognized he was delivering a piece of my childhood in a hand addressed manila envelope. That is, however, exactly what happened.

For those of you who don’t know, Calvin and Hobbes, is an American cultural landmark. It is a comic strip that ran from 1985 until 1995 in papers across the country and around the world. Unlike many current comics, Calvin and Hobbes was always humorous and often side-splittingly hilarious.

Some comics currently in print have continued for decades, often recycling jokes, offering overly complicated plots with a multitude of extraneous characters, and losing the crispness and energy that once made them great. Thankfully Bill Watterson, the man behind Calvin and Hobbes, knew when to walk away and stopped drawing the strip after a decade.

Bill Watterson is a somewhat enigmatic artist. He did very few extended interviews while the strip was in print. Since he retired from drawing Calvin and Hobbes he has largely been out of public view. Many creative people are ready to write an autobiography to cash in on their celebrity as soon as they’ve had success, often providing tedious details of their creative processes. Watterson, on the other hand, has left his many fans largely in the dark.

This new book from Andrews McMeel Publishing is a breakthrough for the hungry Calvin and Hobbes fan. Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue begins with an extended interview with the man who curated a recent exhibit of Calvin and Hobbes strips at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. In this interview, Watterson discusses his childhood, how he became interested in cartooning, his various attempts to break into the industry, and how the production of Calvin and Hobbes took place for its decade-long run.

The second section contains ink on paper samples of some of the cartoonists and illustrators that influenced Watterson. These samples were chosen and annotated by Watterson himself. Next, there are samples of Watterson’s early efforts at editorial cartooning and submissions to syndicates that never made it to press. Finally, the collection includes many pages of samples of published cartoons from the strip’s epic run. These are original, ink on paper drawings that sometimes have whiteout, pencil marks, and even scotch tape visible. The final portion of the collections was selected by Jenny Robb, who is an associate professor at Ohio State University and a curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. They reflect her choice of some of the best and most representative strips that Watterson created.

To say that this book is a delight is an understatement. The pages are visually appealing, the layout creative, and the arrangement of the material tells the story well. The interview is engaging and highlights some of the information any true fan of Calvin and Hobbes should want to know. This is a pearl of great price, to say the least.

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes is not the best entry point for people new to the strip. Starting here would be like trying to read the appendices to The Lord of the Rings before reading the book itself. Every true fan will read the appendices, but only after they have carefully digested the main body of work. The same applies for Watterson’s oeuvre.

However, for those that have read most or all of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, especially those who remember poring over the graphic delights offered by the strip during its newspaper run, this is a true gift. It is worth the time and well worth the money if you have the good fortune to be able to buy this volume.

Note: A gratis copy of this book was received from the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. This review has also been posted at Ethics and Culture.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen "Calvin and Hobbes" appears destined to outlive its own medium... 16. November 2015
Von ewomack - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
"Calvin and Hobbes" seems like the insurmountable culmination of a gradually dissolving art form. Some twenty years following Calvin's final exhortation to Hobbes of "...let's go exploring!" nothing has arrived to take its place. Numerous newspapers have folded. People now constantly stare at small glowing devices that never seem to leave their field of vision. Web comics have proliferated on the internet, but gaining a voice, not to mention an income, anything like Watterson's or Charles Schultz's seems unlikely or impossible on the hugely dispersed and unedited "anything goes, even crap" web. Even the skill of drawing seems to have evolved largely into vector graphic manipulation through software. None of this has helped the reputation of the once universally read newspaper comic. Figuring out how post-internet comics could become genuine cultural artifacts beyond cult or clique status remains a puzzle. Though some web comics have doubtlessly attained large followings, they still don't compare with the imposing ubiquitousness of "Peanuts" or "Calvin and Hobbes" at their peak. "Calvin and Hobbes," somehow still in print and currently enjoyed by generations who weren't even born during its original run, seems like a final vestige of this bygone age. The classics of this genre now largely reside in museums dedicated to comic art, a fact that would probably stupefy previous generations who largely considered comics as enjoyable but puerile junk.

Seeking to preserve this fading comic tradition, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, located in Ohio, exhibited an impressive array of Bill Watterson's original work in mid 2014. Sadly, many people probably heard of it long after the fact when they saw what looked like a brand new "Calvin and Hobbes" book on store shelves. Though it carried the slightly academic title, "Exploring Calvin and Hobbes," it certainly looked similar to the other extremely popular installments. A glance at the cover and a quick look inside revealed that it contained articles from a museum exhibition on the comic strip. Long time rabid fans probably grabbed it, ran to the checkout, then zoomed home at warp speed to digest every nano-particle of information within. Those who simply enjoyed the comic by itself may have shrugged and shoved the book back, seeing that it mostly contained comics already printed in other volumes. Fair to say, this book will likely appeal far more to those who seek more information on the strip's origins and history, the personality of its elusive creator and the art of comics in general. That audience will not close this book disappointed.

Most fans dedicated enough to read this volume cover to cover probably have already seen all of the included "Calvin and Hobbes" strips. Though as a subtle variation the book features reproductions of the original artwork featured in the exhibit. So the strips do have a different look and feel, though nothing will top seeing the originals in person where textures and raking light reveal otherwise unseen nuances. Also, some of Watterson's highly pleasing Sunday strips appear without coloring. Specific sections display Watterson's rarer early political cartoons and syndicate submission strips, where Calvin looks a little like an early Beetle Bailey. Two pages exist for those really interested in the nitty-gritty of classic comic creation and show Watterson's chosen tools of his trade. Watterson's brief commentary on his major influences, along with samples of original art, also provides an interesting, though quick, read. His choices will elict little surprise from comic historian aficionados.

For many the highlight arrives right at the outset in a lengthy and detailed interview with Watterson himself. Spanning 35 double-columned pages, the format allows for in depth questions and answers. Watterson discusses his somewhat idyllic childhood in Ohio where his life wasn't "organized to the minute." He reveals "Peanuts" and "Pogo" as early influences and the gift of unplanned time his parents gave him. "Mad Magazine" receives some pointed gibes followed by "we should probably edit that out." They didn't. Politics, or his obliviousness to the goings-on in the world lead to a discussion of his ill-fated choice to pursue political cartooning. Apparently, since he served as editorial staff for the Cincinnati Post, he once sat a few feet away from George H. W. Bush. After the failure of his first political cartooning job, he finally turned to comic strips. Though also not easy, success eventually came. He prefers to leave analysis of "Calvin and Hobbes" in a more mysterious, unspoken realm. The characters seemed to emerge out of themselves and he claims that the strip almost wrote itself. In one question, the interviewer reveals that Watterson now has children, but he doesn't follow up on this. Descriptions of his cartooning life during the strip's run sound frantically exhausting as deadlines and his own standards often created anxiety. This apparently caused him to isolate himself and push the world out, which probably explains the origin of his reputation as a fiercely private recluse. In the end, he says the celebrity life simply doesn't suit him. Painting, his current exploratory art form, also comes up. A few digressions into his theory of painting take the discussion away from comics, but only briefly. Also, a few paintings dated 1995, not labeled but presumably by Watterson, appear in the "Southwestern Landscape" section. These probably represent the rarest artifacts in the entire book as Watterson seems very protective of his painting endeavors. Licensing and the advantages of the limitations of the comic strip format also receive attention along with the current web comics craze. Watterson seems to find the promise of money in web comics a phantom. The web has significantly changed how people relate to comics and the internet will very likely not produce another dominant strip known to everyone, such as those that once appeared in thousands of newspapers that everyone read. As such, he doesn't see a lot of opportunity for web comics having much cultural impact. The time to vet out the good from the bad on the web, once done assiduously by syndicates and editors for newspapers, seems too overwhelming for him - not to mention for others - to pursue. In the end, he misses the impact of drawing a famous and widely read comic, but does not miss the hectic lifestyle. When asked if he plans to return to comics he presents a quintessentially Watterson answer, cleverly revealing everything while simultaneously revealing nothing, and says "for the moment, my quiet family life is the priority. We'll just have to see."

As always, Watterson displays the usual thoughtfulness, integrity and passion for his art. Few, if any, in the comics realm have approached these ideals. His syndicate probably didn't find his integrity amenable to sudden profit, but Watterson's absolute ban on licensing "swag" may partially explain the strip's endurance. People don't find themselves surrounded by "Calvin and Hobbes" merchandise, dessert cakes, stuffed animals or promotional items. The strip and the strip itself, which few seem to tire of, remains the focus. They haven't even had the chance to burn out on "Calvin and Hobbes." It hasn't made anyone feel as though it exists only to fodder merchandise and thus doesn't pressure anyone to buy anything. Most people seem to appreciate the strip only for its own sake. "Exploring Calvin and Hobbes" follows this line of thought and explores the strip in the best way possible: as a highly enjoyable work of art. In the end, "Calvin and Hobbes" will probably long outlive the very medium that originally brought it to the public's attention. It's already well on its way.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen + A Fun, Fascinating Journey 11. März 2015
Von Bassocantor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This is a really fun, fascinating journey through the creations from Bill Watterson. Perhaps my favorite section was the "Early Work." I especially liked his "self caricature from 1978, with the artist tossing yet another wadded-paper ball into the heap.

At the front of EXPLORING CALVIN AND HOBBES is a fascinating "Question and Answer" session. When asked how he learned to draw cartoons, Bill explains, that there were no classes back then on comic-drawing. He's not sure about the value of them getting academic attention: "If comics need to be deconstructed and explained, something is really wrong with them."

Another highlight is the tongue-in-check claim that the "art supplies" and "tools" are what really separate the great artists from the amateur. He then points out one of his most valuable tools, the "Clear Plastic Thing With Holes." He describes how you use it: "The idea is, you stick your pencil in various holes and drag your gizmo along." Aha!

I really loved the "Characters" chapter, where the artist describes Calvin. It's obvious now, but I never knew that Calvin was actually named after the French Protestant theologian from the 1600's, John Calvin. Watterson notes that he loves writing about Calvin because "I often don't agree with him." (I think he means the character, not the theologian.)

√ All in all, a fun treat for everyone--wonderful stories, wonderful artwork. Just a simple, load of fun!
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3.0 von 5 Sternen The book's a decent deal at $1.99. But Kindle Comics is a much poorer experience than pirated comics 15. Juli 2015
Von Piaw Na - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Review: Exploring Calvin & Hobbes, An Exhibition Catalog
I'll admit that I'm a sucker for deals, so despite having had lousy success with comics in the past on the Kindle store, I picked up Exploring Calvin & Hobbes for $1.99 when it went on sale. So this is as much a review of the Kindle Cloud reader as it is the book.

As a book, this is decent stuff for $1.99. You get a long interview with Bill Watterson (which is unusual, since he doesn't usually do interviews). There's a lot of good stuff in there, especially his indictment of modern childhood:

Really, I suppose the biggest gift my parents gave me was a lot of time. There was never a sense that I should be doing something else. If I was up in my room drawing, nobody bothered me. That kind of time is just indispensable. It's not a luxury, it's an absolute requirement. You've got to mess around---it's the only way to figure stuff out. (Kindle Loc 15)

I drew a couple of strips where Calvin and Hobbes are sitting alone in the car while Calvin's mom or dad shops. My parents did that all the time when we were kids, but if you did it now, someone would call the police. I imagine today's readers wonder what's wrong with me that I'd draw something like that. (Kindle Loc 36)

The book's marketing literature talks about how there are various notes on the panels, but disappointingly, those are the curator's notes, not Watterson's. By far the most frustrating thing about the Kindle Cloud reader is that it doesn't let me highlight text, or even copy/paste quotations (i retyped all the above quotations!). Needless to say, the search functionality is also missing, as is bookmarking. This makes me glad I didn't pay full price for this (or any other comic), as obviously by basic Kindle is useless for reading comics. What's annoying is that the full blown Windows client doesn't work on comics either!

If I was running Windows 8, I suppose I could attempt using the Kindle Cloud reader, but as it is, I'm forced to browse back and forth to extract the quotes I reproduced above, which was quite frustrating.

Nevertheless, the long interview was worth the $1.99, and the extra cartoons and notes are just icing on the cake. Recommended for Watterson fans, though I suppose you could just check it out from the library for free.

Regardless: don't pay for Kindle comics. They're just not worth it. Sad to say, pirated comics probably deliver a much better user experience.
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