More From the Desktop . . .

July 31, 2009 at 9:23 pm (By Amba) (, )

For years I’ve wanted a T-shirt of this:

Stupid World

From this great Calvin & Hobbes strip.

I wonder if Watterson could ever be persuaded to license it.

Guess not:
Bill refused to merchandise his creation 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.

More on this rare decision, by which Watterson “has forgone millions of dollars a year in additional income.”

This was “the only licensed and approved Calvin shirt to exist“:


There’s a lot of bootleg Calvin & Hobbes stuff, showcased here with a funny combination of prurience and disapproval.

Oh well.



  1. michael reynolds said,

    Watterson seems to place an unrealistically high value on his “art.” They’re cartoon characters for Christ’s sake, Calvin and Hobbes, not Gatsby and Daisy or Romeo and Juliet.

    Why not license the merch and use the money to build schools in Afghanistan or give immunizations to kids in Uganda? Sanctimonious twat. Waaah, my cartoon tiger’s too special for that. Waaah.

  2. amba12 said,

    Yeah!! Waaah, I want my T-shirt!

  3. PatHMV said,

    Watterson did a great little cartoon one time as a present for Berkley Breathed (of Bloom County fan). It basically had Breathed in a small boat with all his characters (Opus, Bill the Cat, etc.), and he was frantically cramming each of the character into the gas tank, while exhorting them to earn him more more more!

    I’m with Watterson on this one. It’s nice to have SOMETHING that’s not licensed out the wazoo. We’ve all seen movies that were “promoted” so heavily with cross-licensing (glasses and kids meals toys at Burger King, toys at the toy store, bed sheets, you name it) that you started to wonder which came first, the idea for the actual movie, or all the licensing deals.

    And frankly, I would be willing to bet that Calvin and Hobbes has reached and affected the thinking of far more individuals than the Great Gatsby ever has.

    Your envy is showing, Michael.

  4. michael reynolds said,

    Watterson could go the Gary Larsen route. So long as he retains control — which he obviously has now — he can look at each and every licensing opportunity and give it thumbs up or thumbs down.

    He doesn’t have to be on a Burger King wrapper. In fact at this point he’s old news and has no traction with the younger demo. So he’d be looking at greeting cards, t-shirts, calenders, gift books, desk pretties, that kind of stuff.

  5. michael reynolds said,

    FYI, my merch envy was sated when we got our own line of Transformers for Animorphs. It’s not envy now. It’s greed.

  6. Randy said,

    Watterson isn’t looking at anything. He hasn’t been since the day he quit drawing the strip. IIRC, he was never interested in anything but the strip and when the space alloted got smaller, he stopped. It was all about his personal artistic expression and he felt it was compromised by the smaller footprint. Or maybe he just got bored. Whatever, he made enough money to stop, so he did. It was his decision to make and he did. The criticism of him seems misplaced.

  7. amba12 said,

    Watterson seems to have handled fame quite sanely compared to Annie Leibowitz, who “has closely guarded the right to reproduce her photographs” but now faces confiscation and sale of the rights to them in payment of staggering debts, so that “her famous portraits of Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Nicholson and the like may one day be found on postcards in Times Square.” It’s just a little frustrating for fans who would like to have a memento or two. I was thinking that you could make a reversible toy that looked like the simple, button-eyed stuffed-animal Hobbes when your parents were around but could be pulled through and transformed into the “living” Hobbes when it was just between the two of you.

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