Bill Watterson Releases New Book Nearly 30 Years After Quitting ‘Calvin and Hobbes’
Who needs lousy A.I. versions of Bill Watterson when the real thing is back? The artist walked away from his Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in 1995, creating little work he's been willing to share with the public — until now. Watterson released a new book yesterday with co-creator John Kascht and it’s already a #1 best-seller. But will fans be happy with The Mysteries?
Maybe not, if they’re looking for the next great Calvin adventure. Here’s the official synopsis of the book from its publisher:
In a fable for grown-ups by cartoonist Bill Watterson, a long-ago kingdom is afflicted with unexplainable calamities. Hoping to end the torment, the king dispatches his knights to discover the source of the mysterious events. Years later, a single battered knight returns.
For the book’s illustrations, Watterson and caricaturist John Kascht worked together for several years in unusually close collaboration. Both artists abandoned their past ways of working, inventing images together that neither could anticipate—a mysterious process in its own right.
The book looks eerily beautiful, with somber, fantastical images suitable for a fairy tale.
But it probably comes as no surprise that Calvin and Hobbes fans who pre-ordered the book are perplexed by the sparse prose and monochromatic paintings. On Amazon, reviews are mixed, most likely a result of false assumptions.
Edward Sunder’s three-star Amazon review concurs: “I think most disappointment with this is caused by unrealistic expectations. Calvin and Hobbes is perfect and it's hard not to expect the first significant work in years from Bill Watterson would be amazing as well. If he'd been working on nothing other than this since the early 90's, then it would be a profound disappointment indeed. Instead, this was not that type of work at all - it was a collaboration over a much shorter period of time. Judged on its own merits, it's good. Its message is deeper than it appears at first glance.”
Many Amazon buyers who loved the book assume that disappointed readers simply don’t get The Mysteries. “Yes, it's a very short tale, and quite simple, on the surface - it says right in the description that it's a fable for grownups, for gosh sake,” says a 5-star review from Seeker. “If you came here looking for character development and a complex plot, of course you'll be disappointed. What the heck were you expecting?”
Let go of those expectations, recommends 5-star reviewer CPB. “If you buy this book, consider it something new and unique, and itself a treasure.”
Customer reviews are currently averaging 3 out of 5 stars, although few rate it as mediocre — most of the reviews are either all-in 5 stars or “what the heck?” 1 star. Amazon reviewer LupusAcerbus sums it up: “In the end, I just felt weird knowing Watterson has delivered this message with more verve and poignancy through the mouth of an anthropomorphic tiger, and I paid money to be reminded that really, in the end, we can never truly go back.”