Life Lessons From the Creator of Calvin and Hobbes

billwattersonIn today’s fast-paced, spotlight-seeking, social-media-driven world, finding a public figure who avoids the spotlight is remarkable. But when you find a public figure who is completely embracing living a private life and rejects all fame, money and attention, it forces you to take pause.

That’s what I recently found in the creator of ‘Calvin & Hobbes’: Bill Watterson.

Yesterday I came across this beautiful comic by Gavin Aung Than, which illustrates (in ‘Calvin & Hobbes style) an excerpt of Bill Watterson’s 1990 commencement speech.

Inspired by this comic, with its beautiful perspective, I became curious: what is Bill Watterson up to these days? Like me, you might remember the sad and pre-mature farewell that ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ made in 1995. But surely Watterson was still drawing, blogging, signing autographs, sending out clever tweets?


I quickly found that, despite many reporters’ attempts to find the elusive cartoonist, Watterson has been determined to live a quiet, private life. With further reading I realized how decidedly unaffected Watterson was by his huge success.

“Really, the joys of life are very simple. Having a couple of cats around the house, a quiet life, dabbling in watercolors and woodblock printing . . . the more succcess it (Calvin and Hobbes) has, the happier I am, but if it coasted along at the current number of papers now I would be more than happy.” – Bill Watterson, 1987

Bill Watterson serves as an incredible example of an artist committed to his work for work’s sake, and paying close attention to his internal life. After five years of rejection letters, his ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ comic strip experienced seemingly “overnight” success. Throughout its popularity, Watterson understood that “‘Calvin and Hobbes’ will not exist intact if I do not exist intact”.

Please check out Aung Than’s comic, and Watterson’s full commencement speech.

You will do well to cultivate the resources in yourself that bring you happiness outside of success or failure. – Bill Watterson


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