I’m uploading one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips, not because the weather is currently lovely here in New Orleans, but because I recently succumbed to an Amazon ad and downloaded The Essential Calvin and Hobbes onto my iPad. I read the entire thing in one sitting, delaying dinner several times, as I laughed (and cried a little — the raccoon story is in there) at what for me remains the best comic strip ever created.
Possibly because I was reading it in Kindle form, however, a little realization began to dawn in my head. The decade that Calvin and Hobbes ran (1985-1995) was the cusp of the personal electronic revolution. Though the strip itself is brilliant and the ideas timeless, it is also a time capsule of land lines, cathode-ray TVs, and VCRs. Google, cell phones, and personal computers do not exist in the world of the comic. While the latter two items were invented and in use, they were not ubiquitous the way they are today.
Of course, tons of TV shows and classic films offer a view of the past, but it struck me just how closely the tail-end of the analog era overlapped with the strip. It doesn’t matter, of course, because technology has nothing to do with the content or appeal of the cartoon, but it was just present enough to draw attention to itself, a slight “different era” patina to all the memories and wonder that Watterson gave me.
And he was totally right about heaven.