Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson (William B. Watterson II) was born in 1958 and is the creator of the popular Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. He also writes poetry, a lot of which is featured in the Calvin and Hobbes strips.

For the first few years of his life, Bill Watterson lived in Washington D.C. where his father attended law school and worked as a patent examiner (later becoming a patent attorney). When he was six years old, Bill, his parents and his younger brother moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio where his mother became a city council member.

Rise to Fame

Calvin and Hobbes first got published in November 1985 and ran for a massive 10 years before Bill Watterson decided to retire. Bill Watterson then released the Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book in which he describes his influences for creating his famous comic strips. These include Charles Schulz and his Peanuts creation, Walt Kelly's Pogo comic strip, George Herriman with Krazy Kat and an early 20th century comic by Winsor McCay, Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Over the course of the ten years that he was writing Calvin and Hobbes, Bill was increasingly frustrated by the editors of the newspapers his comic strips appeared in as they constantly decreased the space the comics could appear in. Bill saw this as short-sightedness on the part of the publishers and fought against it whenever he could, often having his strips cancelled from a large circulation of newspapers.

Part of his fight against the publishers involved the way in which they wanted Sunday cartoons to be laid out. Most standard comic strips involved one large rectangular frame followed by a series of smaller rectangles in which to tell the story. Bill saw this as very constraining to his work and managed to convince the newspapers (due to the popularity of Calvin and Hobbes) to allow him to change the layout of his Sunday strips to his own style. Taking advantage of this victory, he often made his comic strip panels overlap, head off in a different direction and change shape completely.

Bill Watterson

There was also a great deal of pressure from the publishers for Bill to merchandise Calvin and Hobbes though he felt very strongly against this and flatly refused. He felt commercialisation of his work by producing all manner f mugs, t-shirts and lunch boxes would seriously devalue his characters and their personalities. Animated series were also out of the question because he didn't want voices to be cast on his characters; he wanted it left up to the readers' imagination.

Bill won several awards in his career for his Calvin and Hobbes comic strips including the Reuben Award as the youngest ever person to win the award in 1986 and the National Cartoonists Society Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988. Bill won the Reuben Award again in 1988 but when he was nominated in 1992, the National Cartoonists Society said no artist could win the award more than once.

Upon Retirement

The Calvin and Hobbes comic strips came to an end in December 1995 when Bill retired. Since then, he spends his time painting, drawing and spending time with his family. He's also published several compilations of his popular comic strips including The Complete Calvin and Hobbes which features every strip Bill ever made.

Bill has always tried to stay out of the public eye and has not changed that since his retirement. He has made no indication that he will be creating any new Calvin and Hobbes comic strips nor any other new projects. He has also stuck to his principals and refuses to licence his creations. Whilst he doesn't sign autographs, he used to sneak signed copies of his books into his local Ohio book store but after discovering them being sold online for large amounts of money he stopped this practice.

The only things Bill has done publicly in recent years are a short piece of writing entitled "Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World," in 1999 to mark the end of an era as Peanuts came to a close and he answered 15 questions sent in by fans in 2005, both of which were published in the LA Times. He now spends his time in relative seclusion in Ohio with his wife Melissa.