Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sledding and Snow Goons: The Platypus Reads Part CCLXVII

My reading of Calvin and Hobbes has progressed to Attack of the Deranged, Mutant, Killer, Monster Snow Goons.  Watterson reached a new level of art and story-telling in this volume, and it's been one of my favorites since childhood.  There's a sharp and cynical Yankee wit that pervades the pages culminating in Calvin's calling upon "the mighty and awful Snow Demons" to animate a frosty homunculus.  Of course, he gets his faustian, yet comical, comeuppance for his meteorological-theological blasphemy.  This sort of warped humor makes sense to kids who spent most sixth-grade lunch periods discussing the finer points of world domination and arguing over who would rule which subject populations when we inevitably succeeded.

While we're on a trip down memory lane, I'd also like to give a nod to the sledding scenes.  Watterson writes sledding in the way I experienced it as a kid (particularly the big blizzard of '96).  We had those awful little sleds that you couldn't steer and we'd start at the top of the hill and coast down, trying to avoid the boulder, and then have to bail out before going over the cliff into the woods.  There were plenty of wipe-outs including taking out one of Mom's holly bushes and not a few trips over the cliff into the woods with accompanied flying and sprawling.  We narrated these exploits with all the over-blown "mount-maim" rhetoric Calvin employs in the strip.

Which brings me to my final point: how much did Watterson shape the world of the kids who read his comics when they ran daily in the papers?  Did we like Calvin and Hobbes' sledding adventures because they mirrored our reality, or did we interpret our reality through the looking glass of Watterson's story?      

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