You Don’t Need a Movie (and here’s why)

Graphic by Taylor Likes (with some help from Bill Watterson)

Written and media by Taylor Likes

Recently, in my Digital Media Seminar class, Professor Deloy Cole showed us an animated version of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. (You can view that here.) I just want to be clear, as I write this blog, that this sort of movie is not what I’m talking about. Little projects for school or for fun are totally fine. I don’t think that even Bill Watterson would have too much of a problem with that. I’m talking more about something like this:

Now obviously, this project was more of a poking fun, total joke sort of thing. But an actual Hollywood rendition of this classic comic would almost definitely ruin it. There’s something magical about the comic strips in their current and only form that makes them special. I believe a film or TV series would ruin that.

I’m not the only one who believes this. The creator himself, Bill Watterson, has said time and time again that he never wants to see his characters come to life on the big screen.

“The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes. If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.”

– Bill Watterson

In a rare interview with the genius, he states his feelings about the digital age. He still prefers paper and ink to “glowing pixels” any day. While I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything, I think he makes a lot of very good points about the beauty and meaningfulness of a comic strip.

It is apparent in many other places that a movie is just too far. Has anyone ever seen the Super Mario Brothers movie?

Still not sure from the trailer? Rotten Tomatoes only gave the movie a 16%! Or how about the Dennis the Menace movie? It only rated 23%. The Resident Evil games were great, but the movie? Only a 34%. While the TV series was relatively popular for some time, the movie versions of the hit comic strip, Garfield, were terrible. The first one only received a dismal 15% rating, and yet, someone thought it would be a good idea to make a sequel? Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties dropped down to the terrible 11% rating.

Now I don’t mean for this to be hate on all movie renditions. There are some stories that have been made even better by their movie versions: Lord of the Rings, Forrest Gump, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Jurassic Park, The Mist–all books that are just as classic as the stories they were based off of.

Sometimes people get it in their heads that if there is a good story, whether it comes from a book, a video game, or a comic strip, that they must give it a TV series or a movie. But many times, it is just unneeded.

This image is essentially my childhood. Please don’t ruin it. Illustration by Bill Watterson.

As cool as that animated video may be, personally, I believe that Calvin and Hobbes would never be the same if someone tried to give the characters voices. This comic strip has been a very big part of my life. My official Calvin and Hobbes comic book collections is one of the things I hold most dear in my life. I never want to see that legacy ruined. And I know there are millions of people with their own childhood, or even adulthood, with stories that they don’t want to see, or wish they had never seen, ruined by a film.

To conclude, I’d like to show you the trailer for the only way I ever want to see Calvin and Hobbes on the big screen:

(It’s really good. You should definitely watch it.)


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