Friday Afternoon Coffee Break: Inspiration

Grab your coffee or tea, take a break form work on Friday and enjoy some inspiration from one of my favorite people in the world. Bill Watterson. Who is Bill Waterson you ask?

Bill Watterson is the creator of the greatest comic of all time Calvin and Hobbes. The story about the cute little kid in a red and blacked stripe shirt and his shenanigans with his tiger. The rambunctious kid imagines grandiose worlds and amazing ideas. His whole life is played out in beautiful landscapes and adventures all in the comfort of his backyard. I love Calvin and Hobbes. For me, it was the comic that embodied my childhood. I couldn’t but help love watching someone do exactly what I did when I was a kid. I was a loner, I had an imaginary friend, and I created amazing adventures!

I grew up on Calvin and Hobbes. The comic was produced through my childhood and I remember reading the dailies and collecting every collection that came out. I still haven’t bought it yet, but a few years ago a leather bound 5 book set for Calvin and Hobbes came out that WILL be the centerpiece of my library. The writing was strong, the ink and watercolor work has been an inspiration to my own personal art and it just is a story that I still read and helps me remember the importance of being a kid. I think that Calvin and Hobbes have always been a strong influence on my life. But not in the way you would think.

Calvin and Hobbes is based on philosophers John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes

I had no idea that Philosophy and cartoons were so intertwined. As I went through college and started on my aimless philosophy path, I started to reread the comic in a whole new light understanding ideas like “structured chaos” and “the world is inherently good vs. the world is inherently evil” in a realistic way. Not only that, I was always able to find a way to relate Calvin and Hobbes to my critical thinking. By looking at politics, sociology, and philosophy through the lens of a child, it makes you never want to grow up because when you are a kid, you just “get it.”

Bill Watterson was a big proponent of imagination and critical thinking in the schools.

One of my favorite quotes from Watterson is “That’s the whole problem with science. You’ve got a bunch of empiricists trying to describe things of unimaginable wonder.” He was a strong proponent of enjoying things for the sake of enjoyment. He didn’t need everything explained and understood. When we focus on finding the answers we get so lost in just enjoying the moment we are living in. Some of the greatest story lines Calvin and Hobbes had talked about just enjoying a moment of life or basking in the simplicity of the world around you. Being complicated and busy really takes away from living.

He refused to sell the rights to Calvin and Hobbes for merchandising or cartooning because he didn’t believe in the commercialization of his creations.

This right here. This is what changed my life and made me appreciate this man. Calvin and Hobbes is a national treasure. OR at least a treasure to many children’s childhood. The art, the characters, the simplicity in the complexity made these stories so genuine and emotionally real. Watterson recognized this and refused to let his message be corrupted or watered down. Also, after 10 years of working on the strip he just quit. Not with a bang or drama, just stating he was done. As he states  “I did not want Calvin and Hobbes to coast into half-hearted repetition, as so many long-running strips do. I was ready to pursue different artistic challenges, work at a less frantic pace with fewer business conflicts, and … start restoring some balance to my life.”Since retiring the strip, Watterson has pursued his interest in painting and music.No one would ever be able to catch in animation or voice who and what Calvin and Hobbes stood for. His empire would have been huge, the marketing potential was great. But those things don’t matter to a kid. What matters is just hanging out with your best friend and doing what you want to do. Bill Watterson understood this and has been creating art and loving life ever since without the fear of his message being lost.

I truly admire an artist who recognizes the special importance of life and refuses to let that go. Currently I am working on a million projects and a political campaign so I am caught up in “serious” conversations all the time. But recently I just stumbled upon this ode to Bill Watterson and it made me wake up and question what I am doing. Who am I making better? Am I being true to me? Am I being true to the kid in me? Life and work are important and can coincide, but only in a way that what you do makes you feel alive and lets you dream and be larger than life, even if it is in your own head.

Created by Gavin Aung, this was a quote taken from a graduation speech given by Bill and made into a visual with an ode to his style. On his website Zen Pencils, Aung is working on adapting inspirational quotes into comic stories. He has been doing a great job making beautiful stories and the best part is that he is doing what he loves. Even though he may not have commercial or financial success, his reward is social capital and building happiness and inspiration in life.


I owe a lot to Bill Watterson and his creations. Without them I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of my mind and my life. Thank you Bill and thank you Zen Pencils for giving the world this amazing tribute.


2 thoughts on “Friday Afternoon Coffee Break: Inspiration

  1. Hey James and thanks for a wonderful post.

    “Am I being true to me? Am I being true to the kid in me?” – These are my questions as well! I ask these almost everyday and can usually respond in the affirmative. But every now and then a Gavin comes along to keep the real, real!

    I’m glad that there is at least one other on this planet who “gets it” 🙂

    Thanks again and take care. All the best.


    • Hey thanks for thinking that I get it Lyle. I really appreciate that. I have found that I constantly am striving to be a grown up, but realize how much more I prefer life when I look at it through a child’s point of view. Nothing like exploring the world and having fun from the comfort of your own backyard. I think that is a strong message for all of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s