With the real J.D. Salinger dead and Jeff Mangum—the J.D. Salinger of indie rock—touring again, the world is running out of reclusive geniuses who refuse to keep doing whatever the world loves them for. At least we’ll always have Bill Watterson, the Calvin And Hobbes creator who effectively abandoned the comic strip world in 1995 and hasn’t drawn much of anything since.
Until this week, that is. As revealed on the personal blog of Stephan Pastis, creator of the Pearls Before Swine comic, Watterson secretly contributed art to three of his most recent strips. The whole story of how Pastis managed to pull this off is well-worth a read, but the gist of it is that he published a self-deprecating cartoon that referenced Calvin And Hobbes, sent it to Watterson, and then Watterson responded by suggesting that he secretly take over the strip for a few days. Along the way, Pastis had to work around Watterson not wanting to talk on the phone, meet in person, or use a scanner, so it’s all the more exciting that it worked out as well as it did.
In his blog, Pastis compares the experience to getting a glimpse of Bigfoot, and even for non-diehard fans of Calvin And Hobbes, that seems pretty appropriate. Either way, it’s pretty touching to hear about someone getting a chance to interact with a person they admire this much. Also, now we know we can get Watterson’s attention by making comic strips that reference his work and sending them to him. He’ll love that!
You can read the whole Bill Watterson Pearls Before Swine story arc here, here, here, here, and here, with the last three installments featuring his art.