Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Original Watterson!

Bill Watterson is the creator of the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. He famously never licensed the characters in any capacity and deliberately ended the strip after ten years, instead of trying to milk it for an extended period. He also has let very few of his originals from the strip out of his possession, and none have ever gone to public auction.

Until now.

Heritage Auctions will be selling his original, hand-colored copy his October 19, 1986 Sunday strip...
(Their site has the larger story of how this piece left Watterson's possession.)

I'm sure it'll fetch a much higher price than I'd be able to pay, but I still enjoy looking through HA's auction pages because they provide very high quality scans of their material. Which, in the case of original art, means that you can see a good amount of production detail.

In this particular case, what strikes me is the lack of corrections. You can see, in a few spots, hints of Watterson's original pencil outlines, but they're clearly intended as rough guides and not finished pencils. Which suggests that he did most of the illustration work in the inking stage. Despite that, the only two corrections I can see are 1) toning back the wrinkles on the mother's shirt in the first panel, and 2) a correction to Calvin's second to last line of dialogue. A misspelling of "mucous", perhaps? Clearly, Watterson was a very talented professional to do such clean work essentially on the fly.

But let me reiterate the date here: October 19, 1986. Less than a full year since the strip debuted. And Watterson was already that comfortable with his characters, his work and his process! Even if Calvin and Hobbes wasn't the most consistently funny/touching/endearing thing in the paper every single day, I expect Watterson would still be well remembered for his craftsmanship.

1 comment:

Ethan said...

This is just simply gorgeous. And probably more expensive than my house, investments, savings, and comic collection combined.