Almost from the moment of its first national publication, “Calvin and Hobbes,” the comic strip about a little boy and his “stuffed but very real” tiger had a huge fan base. Part of its popularity was the really thoughtful access to childhood that Watterson provided to his readers, no matter how far back our childhoods were. But part of the comic’s popularity, I suspect, was its insight. Hobbes, stuffed tiger or not, got to the heart of matters simply and plainly (as when Calvin chides him for his lack of ambition and Hobbes points out that while Calvin is annoyed, Hobbes is happy in the sunshine). Sometimes Calvin plays that role – sad that adults can’t see that in tearing down forests to build human homes the animals in the forest lose theirs, or suddenly aware of how playing “war” is, in the end, kind of boring.So it’s unsurprising that any graduation address Watterson would give would be something special. As the lovely article at BrainPickings reminds us, in their brief overview of Watterson’s graduation speech to the Kenyon College class of 1990. Much of Watterson’s advice is advice that artists, especially those of us in the “budding” stage of our artistic careers, could use. The whole article is here, but I’ll leave you with a quote from the man who took five years of rejections before being offered a chance to publish one of the best comic stripes in the English.
“Drawing comic strips for five years without pay drove home the point that the fun of cartooning wasn’t in the money; it was in the work.”
The fun…is in the work. A good thought for Monday, I think.
“If you can keep your head while all about are losing theirs”…what? No, that’s not the quote I want, it is one I love tho’…Thanks for this Ina. “The fun is in the work” — What a brilliant concept and exceptionally fine words to live by, especially for poets who are forever writing and submitting and being rejected. (Any writers for that matter…) It’s easy to get lost in the “I must get published. What do I have to do to get published? Why do I keep getting rejected? miasma that is the life of the poet/writer, instead of enjoying the work as you’re producing it, remembering the real reason you wrote it in the first place…
Sharon, it sounds like the same thing struck you that struck me. This is just TOO HARD if you’re in it for fame/money/etc but you don’t love the work. Once you love the work, even when you’re hating it if you know what I mean, it makes everything else less difficult. Ikeep thinking that Watterson must be a really impressive guy.
Oh, How true!!
Isn’t it though? Bill Watterson is a really amazing guy.