Which, if you’re a Calvin & Hobbes fan is the same as finding the holy grail.
And, of course, if you read the article we posted yesterday about creativity and ADHD (Sure, you did, right?), then you’re dying to see more Watterson anyway. So:
by Michael Cavna
BILL WATTERSON wasn’t aware he’d been nominated. Shoot, until he Googled it, the cartoonist didn’t even know the award existed.
His syndicate, though, called him with the news early this year: France’s esteemed Angoulême International Comic Art Festival had just named the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator as recipient of its Grand Prix award for lifetime achievement — a prize that usually includes serving as event president the following year. Apparently, in a fashion that’s delightfully French, the festival bestows the typically obligation-laden honor without asking in advance whether you’ll accept the concomitant duties, from jurying to appearances.
“People started talking about all the obligations that went with the prize, so I thought the whole thing was bananas,” Watterson tells The Post’s Comic Riffs in his only American interview about the honor, “but Angoulême assured me there were no strings attached and they’d work with whatever I’d be willing to do.
“Drawing the poster sounded fun, so I agreed to do that,” notes Watterson, who also this year has created several collaborative “Pearls Before Swine” strips and the film poster for “Stripped” — his first public art in nearly two decades.
Watterson says he does not plan to attend the 2015 festival, which begins Jan. 29, but he has just unveiled that poster, and my, what a stunner it is. Watterson’s offering is a 15-panel ode to comics — to the art form and the reading experience — that is both homage to early 20th-century American strips and wordless, timeless artwork that transcends language and era.
“I still read newspaper comics, but without much hope for their future,” the once-reclusive cartoonist tells Comic Riffs. “As a small joke on myself, I deliberately set the story in a non-digital world.”
“For me,” says Watterson, who retired his beloved “Calvin and Hobbes” at the end of 1995, “the anachronism evokes the distant heyday of the medium, and razzes how long ago my career was.”
(Watterson’s career was celebrated this year in a retrospective at the Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum — in his home state; Watterson did not make a public appearance at that event, either.)
Comic Riffs caught up with the cartooning great to talk about his new poster, his publicly productive year — and his work on a Richard Thompson retrospective book due out later this month.