Calvin and Hobbes’ Creator Denies Hobbes Is Imaginary

The creator of the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes is refuting one of the biggest misconceptions about the series. When asked about the true nature of the stuffed tiger, Bill Watterson reveals why many have Hobbes’ state of being all wrong.




Calvin and Hobbes is a popular comic strip that revolves around the adventures of a precocious six-year-old boy named Calvin and his toy tiger Hobbes. To the rest of the world, Hobbes is just a stuffed animal, but to Calvin, Hobbes is a living, breathing anthropomorphic creature. Many strips center around the duo discussing life and philosophy, but occasionally the strip features other characters such as Calvin’s parents or his neighbor Susie Derkins. These additional characters often break the illusion and confirm that Hobbes is a toy. This leads to many thinking that Hobbes is simply a byproduct of Calvin’s overactive imagination.



Just Because Adults Can’t See Hobbes Doesn’t Mean He’s Not Real

calvin and hobbes not real

But Watterson seems to think otherwise and says as much in an interview. The Calvin and Hobbes creator spoke with The Comics Journal, discussing his career and shedding insights into his iconic work. The conversation eventually turns to the subject of Hobbes where it’s suggested that the tiger is all just Calvin’s creativity running wild. Watterson counters by saying “That’s the assumption that adults make because nobody else sees him, sees Hobbes, in the way that Calvin does“. To Watterson, he doesn’t see Hobbes as an imaginary friend, but rather an independent entity capable of his own thoughts and opinions. The interview also brings up a strip in which Calvin was tied to a chair by Hobbes. Watterson says he likes “the tension that that creates” where “something odd has happened and neither makes complete sense, so you’re left to make out of it what you want“.

Watterson obviously isn’t saying that Hobbes is the walking, talking tiger that Calvin perceives him. But he does suggest that Hobbes isn’t exactly what he appears to be. Calvin is obviously an imaginative child, often losing himself in his adventures as Spaceman Spiff or when messing with his Transmogrifier. It would make sense if Hobbes is just another part of the offbeat world Calvin sees. However, Watterson prefers the situation to be a bit more complex, making for a much more engaging story.

Hobbes’ Potential Existence Makes Calvin and Hobbes Better

Calvin and Hobbes Featured Art

It’s not so much that Hobbes could potentially be some fantastic otherworldly creature that only Calvin sees. Rather, it’s the ambiguity of what’s true and what isn’t that makes for a more interesting read. Instead of confirming everything is in Calvin’s head or that Hobbes truly is some kind of magic, Watterson found that the true novelty of Calvin and Hobbes existed somewhere in the middle. Adults simply assume that Hobbes is the product of a child’s imagination because that’s the logical thing. But the truth is that Hobbes’ does exist in some capacity, and not explaining exactly how helps give the charm that Calvin and Hobbes was ultimately known for.

Source: The Comics Journal

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