• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #149: Hobbes


"So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?"

Let's face it - Calvin is kind of a punk. Bright, inventive, adventurous, but a punk all the same, in the way only a willful six-year old can be. Watching over him (and, at times, egging him on) is his patient alter ego, the sometimes-stuffed tiger Hobbes.

Hobbes is the best kind of friend. He cautions Calvin about the wisdom of his zanier schemes, but when the lad goes ahead anyway, he's there to pick up the pieces. He has a caustic tongue and fierce sense of humor, always managing to identify Calvin's most vulnerable weaknesses and needle them with unerring accuracy. And yet he's an inveterate cuddler, a warm hug on two/four legs, a constant companion, partner in crime, and even convenient repository of blame if needed.

There's been no shortage of academic or amateur analysis of Watterson's masterful strip, and for good reason. It's a heartfelt and nostalgic tour of the guileless innocence of childhood, of long summer days in a red wagon that might be a spaceship, of squirting girls with waterguns and thinking you're smarter than your long-suffering parents. It's also about unconditional love, and how capable we are of perfect friendship. We all want, and need, a Hobbes. Not enough of us have one.

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