Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, is often compared to Bigfoot: in that he is both legendary and reclusive.
But that being said, there has definitely been a “Bigfoot sighting” as of late and he has definitely left some of his prints in Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine: a syndicated comic strip running in 750 newspapers all around the world. According to Bill Watterson himself in Michael Cavna’s EXCLUSIVE: ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ creator Bill Watterson returns to the comics page — to offer a few ‘Pearls’ gems in the Washington Post, he wanted to do a “goofy collaboration” with Pastis that could be used to help fun raise the charity Team Cul de Sac: an organization founded by Chris Sparks and the comics illustrator Richard Thompson to combat Parkinson’s disease.
The original strips with Watterson’s collaboration will be on display at HeroesCon before they get auctioned off for the Cul de Sac charity. It is fascinating to read Watterson’s perspective on the collaboration, just as it is perhaps even more intriguing to look at Pastis’ own account of how it all happened in his Blog article aptly named Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did. There is so much he says about their collaborative and creative process and yet so tantalizingly little: given Watterson’s well-known love for intense privacy.
It didn’t even seem that long ago, back in December of 2013, that Mental Floss managed to facilitate an interview with the cartoonist. In one of my earliest GEEKPR0N articles, I look at the gap of time in-between different Bill Watterson interviews. Then you also have to consider the occasional other moments Watterson briefly became public again with a painting of Cul De Sac character Petey Otterloop in 2011 and a cartoon for the documentary Stripped on February 26, 2014.
And looking at all of this, right now, and realizing that Watterson had been involved in drawing three new comic strips recently without anyone being the wiser reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about him in which we concluded that there might have been some kind of confluence, a series of events and inner workings that made Watterson realize that he might have something more to say.
But while our conversation was with regards to him actually briefly revisiting Calvin and Hobbes, it can also be applied to the rest of what he has been doing lately. If you follow Pastis you will see that a few events and needs came together to make this collaboration — and indeed this communication — happen. And indeed, it’s no secret that Bill Watterson never stopped making art, or watching the comic strip medium continue after his departure.
As for Bill Watterson’s privacy, it’s a lot like the myth of Bigfoot. He never really left.
And sometimes the best place to hide is right in plain sight.