On the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of 'Calvin and Hobbes' in the daily press, I luckily ran across the Tenth Anniversary Book when exchanging a dozen books, that hadn't been taken up during eight weeks at the old soldiers and sailors' home, for some on offer in the lobby of the VA hospital. I especially admired this comic strip for its originality when it was current and find it holds up well today.
Rather than a compilation of the daily and Sunday strips, Mr. Watterson first offers very short commentaries on licensing (he stymied his syndicate on this but has found mountains of goods bearing pirated images), sabbaticals (I disagree with him as I would like to give up and coming artists a two week try out, or years in the case of Mr. Trudeau), the Sunday strip (mechanics, the two month lead time to obtrain color separations in 1995, artistic considerations), influences, and then characteristics of 'the cast.' He actually begins with an essay on newspaper economics that have become more pronounced since he published these comments on the comics in transition. For example, La Opinion ended their Sunday comic section (Condorito is great when drawn big, bold, and in color) and much more (letters to the editor, noted columnists, South Amerioan news) under the 'leadership' of Monica Lozano--by the time she bailed, La Opinion was a real train wreck.
Many of the strips offered here include a line or two by the artist about what he was trying to do with composition, color, dialogue, etc., how he wanted the characters to 'speak' for themselves, and self-criticism of where and why he missed the mark in some cases. Thus this book can be useful as a tutorial for up and coming cartoonists, although Mr. Watterson is an outlier among artists who tend to go along to get along.
I am glad I ran across this book and although we have few readers, I am sure someone will take it up at the old soldiers' home--this is one book I will not be carrying bact to VA hospital lobby eight weeks from now.
The Tenth Anniversary Collection is filled with Bill Watterson's personal recollections and tidbits on the backstory of the series.