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William B. "Bill" Watterson II (born July 5, 1958) is an American cartoonist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and select Target: The Political Cartoon Quarterly Magazine drawings.
Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, James G. Watterson worked as a patent examiner while going to law school, before becoming a patent attorney in 1960. The family moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where his mother Kathryn became a city council member, when Bill was six years old. He has a younger brother, Tom, who is an English teacher at McCallum High School in Austin, Texas
In 1980, Watterson graduated from Kenyon College. Immediately the Cincinnati Post offered him a job drawing political cartoons for a six-month trial period and later designed grocery advertisements four years prior to creating Cavlin and Hobbes.
Calvin and Hobbes was first published on November 18, 1985. Bill Watterson wrote in his Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book that his influences include Charles Schulz, for his work in Peanuts; Walt Kelly for his comic Pogo; and George Herriman for Krazy Kat. (Watterson also wrote the introduction to the first volume of The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat.) Watterson's style also reflects the influence of Little Nemo in Slumberland, a popular early 20th century comic strip by Winsor McCay.
Watterson spent much of his career trying to change the climate of newspaper comics. He believed that the artistic value of comics was being undermined, and that the space they occupied in newspapers continually decreased, subject to arbitrary whims of short-sighted publishers. Furthermore, he opined that art should not be judged by the medium for which it is created (i.e., that there is no "high" art or "low" art, just art).
Watterson opposed the structure publishers imposed on Sunday newspaper cartoons: the standard cartoon starts with a large, wide rectangle featuring the cartoon's logo, and the rest of the strip is presented in a series of rectangles of different widths. In his opinion this format limited the cartoonist's options of allowable presentation. Watterson managed to gain an exception to these constraints for Calvin and Hobbes, allowing him to draw his Sunday cartoons the way he wanted. In many of his strips, the panels overlap or contain their own panels; in some the action progresses diagonally across the strip.
Watterson also battled against pressure from publishers to merchandise his work, something that he felt would cheapen his comic. He refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that pasting Calvin and Hobbes images on commercially-sold coffee mugs, stickers and t-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities. He also refused to allow the strip to appear as an animated series.
Watterson was awarded the National Cartoonists Society Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988, and awarded the society's Reuben Award in 1986 (he was the youngest person ever to receive the award). In 1988, Watterson received the Reuben award again, and he was nominated again in 1992. Following his 1992 nomination, the National Cartoonists Society declared that no artist could win the award more than once.
The last strip of Calvin and Hobbes was published on December 31, 1995. Since retiring, Bill Watterson has taken up painting, often drawing landscapes of the woods with his father. He has also published several anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes strips.
Since ending the strip, Watterson has kept away from the public eye and has given no indication of resuming the strip, creating new works based on the characters, or embarking on other projects. He refuses to sign autographs or license his characters, staying true to his stated principles. In previous years, he was known to sneak autographed copies of his books onto the shelves of the Fireside Bookshop, a family-owned bookstore in his home of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. However, after discovering that some people were selling the autographed books online for high prices, he ended this practice as well.
Watterson currently lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with his wife Melissa. On December 21, 1999, a short piece called "Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World," written by Watterson to mark the forthcoming end of the comic strip Peanuts, was published in the Los Angeles Times, and most recently in October of 2005, Watterson answered fifteen questions submitted by readers.
Date of Birth: July 5, 1958
Birthplace: Washington, DC
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Creator of Calvin & Hobbes
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