One of this blog’s four regular readers passes along a cool link: the magazine mental_floss snagged an interview with the seriously publicity-shy Bill Watterson, and they’ve posted an excerpt on their website. Here’s an excerpt from the excerpt:
[mental_floss:] Your fight over protecting Calvin and Hobbes from licensing deals, and your battle to increase the real estate for your Sunday page comic, were notable—partially because they indicated your incredible autonomy over your work. Had you “lost” those battles, it appears you would have ended the strip. It reminds me of Howard Roark and his desire to blow up his building rather than see it molested by other hands. Was there a critical moment in your career that instilled such unwavering creative integrity?
[Bill Watterson:] Just to be clear, I did not have incredible autonomy until afterward. I had signed most of my rights away in order to get syndicated, so I had no control over what happened to my own work, and I had no legal position to argue anything. I could not take the strip with me if I quit, or even prevent the syndicate from replacing me, so I was truly scared I was going to lose everything I cared about either way. I made a lot of impassioned arguments for why a work of art should reflect the ideas and beliefs of its creator, but the simple fact was that my contract made that issue irrelevant. It was a grim, sad time. Desperation makes a person do crazy things.
He seems an incredibly demure, self-effacing guy for someone who has had such a profound and long-lasting impact on the culture, including the culture of symbolically peeing on things. I miss Calvin and Hobbes.