The reclusive comics legend ghost-wrote/drew a fellow artist’s strip for three days
Bill Watterson spent ten years writing and drawing every installment of Calvin & Hobbes, considered by many to be the single greatest comic strip in the history of the medium. During that period he experimented with daring new art techniques, negotiated unprecedented levels of creative independence from his publisher and famously resisted merchandising or “franchising” his characters; making him a hero to fellow comics professionals and something like a god to legions of devout fans.
Then, at the height of his fame, he walked away.
Since then, Calvin & Hobbes (the adventures of a young boy and his stuffed tiger, who is either secretly alive or imagined to be thus) has only grown in stature – it’s hard to find a writer, artist or filmmaker of even vaugely-related material who doesn’t cite it as a key influence. But Watterson has remained not only retired but practically invisible; refusing almost all interviews, seldom ever seen or even said to have been seen. In an age where some authors trade quips with fans daily on social media, he’s essentially a ghost.
Stephan Pastis, author of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine, has now revealed that – unknown to the rest of the world (but suspected by a few dogged comics fans) until today – a just-concluded three day Pearls “meta-story” in which a (supposed) 10 year-old fan swapped-out Pastis usual art with her own Watterson-esque whismical fare was actually executed by Bill Watterson Himself under the condition that the truth not be known until it was concluded.
The three strips now mark the first new newspaper comics work that Watterson has published in almost two decades, though he has contributed a handful of forewards to comics collections and posters made for charity and the documentary Stripped.
Source: The Washington Post