That Inspirational Bill Watterson Cartoon You’re Sharing Isn’t Actually By Bill Watterson
If you’ve checked your Facebook feed lately, chances are you’ve seen a friend, coworker, acquaintance or former middle school teacher sharing a “new” inspirational Bill Watterson cartoon. Except, it’s not actually by the reclusive artist behind the beloved ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ comic strip.
The strip was actually drawn by Gavin Aung Than, the artist behind the Zen Pencils project. Gavin creates comics based on inspirational quotes from great minds, thus the strip above which uses text from a 1990 speech Watterson gave at Kenyon College.
However, due to Gavin’s Watterson-influenced art, many are assuming that the master has come out of hiding to grace us with a new comic. The truth is, Watterson hasn’t released a comic strip to the public since ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ ended in 1995. (The last bit of artwork attributed to him is this oil painting of a character from the comic strip ‘Cul de Sac’ that Watterson created to benefit Parkinson’s research.) Word is Watterson spends his time crafting dinosaur paintings that no one will ever see and rarely grants interviews or appears in public.
A close look at the Zen Pencils strip will reveal that Gavin is merely drawing in the style of an artist who inspired his own work. (That dinosaur is far less detailed than the ones that chased Calvin.) Also a dead giveaway? The computers in the strip. Watterson has probably never drawn a modern day computer. He was never much of a fan of technology.
It’s a testament to how much fondness we all have for Watterson’s work that we’ll trick ourselves into thinking an homage is the genuine article. That said, it’s a nice tribute to one of our greatest artists and a reminder that Watterson possessed insights into life and creativity that still ring true today.