Bill Watterson Fans Furious Over A.I. Calvin and Hobbes
Is nothing safe from A.I. impersonators? Now our unseen algorithm lords (with the help of some talent-impaired human “creators”) are churning out completely bizarre versions of Calvin and Hobbes comics. The notoriously silent Bill Watterson hasn’t weighed in — publicly at least — but fans are irate on his behalf.
What kind of adventures do A.I. Calvin and Hobbes embark on? Apparently, they’re playing with smart appliances — which kinda sorta makes sense because a smart oven is probably a cousin of whatever neurobot spat out this monstrosity. Appropriately, another unauthorized Calvin image (one that Watterson reportedly hates) provides a review.
@brownbreadcomix is the mastermind who entered the prompts into the latest version of Open AI to create the comic, though the account is now hiding behind protected status. We’re guessing that’s to hide from comments like this one from @McThrill: "What better way to show my love to a comic I adore than by doing the exact thing that it's creator hates so much it made him quit comics entirely for several decades."
@McThrill wasn’t alone in the public beatdown. Watterson fans took to the streets with virtual pitchforks to express their dismay.
One reason Calvin and Hobbes fans are so upset is that Watterson has been notoriously protective of his creation over the decades. Unlike the creators of Peanuts or Garfield, Watterson turned down an estimated $300 to $400 million in merchandising fees for toys, cartoons, and other merch. An example of his reasoning: If the strip itself never definitively reveals if Hobbes is a toy or a real tiger, then an actual toy Hobbes would answer the question, destroying the magic.
In the Calvin and Hobbes’ Tenth Anniversary Book, Watterson expressed pride in his strip being a "low-tech, one-man operation." Unlike other strips that employed assistant artists to keep up with the daily grind, Watterson drew every line and wrote every word.
So yeah, A.I. Calvin and Hobbes is a slap in the face of everything Watterson stands for. For the final word on the subject, here’s X/Twitter user @detachment_red’s response to the A.I.-generated strip:
“I read an interview with Bill Watterson back in the day; he talked about submitting a pic of Snoopy to an art contest as a kid & it got rejected bc it was a copy of someone else's work. he said it taught him a important lesson about producing original art. maybe think about this!”