I was thinking back about myself, how I got to where I am and what got me into the creative world. It brought me back to the thing that started it all. Comic strips.
I know most animators have preferred, or at least spoke more about comic books than comic strips, but looking back comic strips absolutely shaped my life to the path I am currently on. The earliest memories I have of comic strips were what I can only assume was sometime around 1st or 2nd grade. It was a small private school, and we had some books on the shelf. I THINK(listen I have a horrendous memory so I could be wrong) I started off with peanuts(I mean really who didn’t?), but the first BOOK, the first comic strip BOOK I actually remember seeing, holding, reading, was Garfield. Which Garfield book? I could never tell you. But I remember when we had to sit and read, if I wasn’t playing this cool game with Pennies(I’ll show you sometime if you ask) I was reading Garfield books.
That school only went to 5th grade. My brother is 3 years older than I am so when he was in 5th grade I was in second and when it was time for him to get to 6th grade, it meant I was changing schools too. Now, I believe when I was in 2nd grade, my brother and I bought books from the book….store thing that came to schools. If memory serves, which it doesn’t, I bought one of the “I Spy” books, and my brother bought a book that has stayed in my head, and in our house, ever since.
The book was Gary Larson’s Cows of our Planet. I read through it after my brother and I enjoyed it, everything seemed correct you know? Nothing looked bad, or wrong or anything. I mean jeez I was in 2nd grade, so all I cared about was the fact that there was a Cow wearing glasses which I’m sure I thought was hilarious. My brother would explain some of the other jokes to me which were still funny.
Now, as I said, when my brother finished 5th grade I had to move to a different school.This was a pretty big moment in my life. I was a shy kid who sat in the back, didn’t know anyone. Most of my classmates had all gone from kindergarten to 3rd grade together. Sometime that year, I found the book that did indeed change my life…
Scientific Progress Goes ‘BOINK!’ This book was in the bookshelf in my classroom. It turns out my teacher, Mrs. Boston loved Calvin and Hobbes. Had them all. So in my spare time, I read that whole book and I fucking LOVED it. Looking back, how the hell does a 3rd grader understand some of the jokes in that strip? They were pretty advanced, but I thought it just looked awesome, and it was an awesome message. A Boy and his imagination.
That book store/fair that came every year, you bet your ass I was looking for any Calvin and Hobbes books I could find. I think the second book I read was It’s a Magical World, which ironically was the last book in the series. I didn’t know for a long ass time though.
Calvin and Hobbes shaped me so much I used to buy tracing paper all the time and trace the characters all the time. It lead to me beginning to wonder about how to make comic strips, and eventually, I did make comic strips. For 3 years or so I did my own comic strip online trying to be like Bill Watterson, just without the talent I guess. I wasn’t as good at drawing, but damnit my mom thinks I was funny.
There was just something there, and I’m sure fans of comic books have the same feeling, that seems so alive about comics. I mean, I am literally looking at a piece of paper, it is not moving, nothing on there is moving, but when I was reading the books, I was always THERE. I was always WATCHING these things happen. In other words, I was immersed in the environment, and I forgot that I was reading a comic. It’s something we try to do in animated films, fool the audience. Man was I fooled when I would read Calvin and Hobbes.
Anyway, I write this because thinking about that made me look online at the books, and merely SEEING the covers of each of the books just brings me back to that time. It reminds me of my childhood. It jogs memories into my brain which is normally a black hole for memories. I hope to never grow up. To never lose this feeling as I grow older, and I hope my kids someday learn to love Calvin and Hobbes like I do. I hope you guys reading this take a minute to think back to what got you excited as a kid, and I hope you go revisit it. I know a lot of times when you do that you realize how bad it was(usually going back to your old favorite movies as a kid is not as pleasant as an adult), but do it anyway. Find that thing that got you going on your path now, remember it. Embrace it. Love it and don’t ever forget it.