December 13th, 2011

I listen


Did Calvin & Hobbes ever have computers?

I was trying to picture Calvin using a computer and couldn't. He thinks up other advanced technology so he can play with it, the transmogrifier being the famous example, but not computers. In certain ways, Calvin & Hobbes was slightly (slightly) retro; Bill Watterson started drawing it at a time where school-age kids were starting en masse to get hands-on computer experience, and by the end of the strip's run in the mid-90s the internet was a fact of life for us 80s kids, but of course Watterson doesn't have kids and wasn't experiencing that even secondhand. I'm guessing -- just a guess, I can't ask him to find out -- that Watterson's childhood was a fairly low-tech one. He wasn't like Calvin, but he probably did a fair number of the activities that Calvin did; it's just that Calvin thinks differently about those activities than Watterson did. Was Watterson outdoors-y? I'd like to think so. But then, I became a more outdoors-y kid when I had more outdoors to explore on my own, like shorelines in Virginia Beach and then forests in Northern Virginia, so I'm biased towards hoping kids do those activities. I've written about that...more than once, in fact.

My hunch, now that I think about it: a computer would seem like too passive a tool for Calvin. Calvin wouldn't create a blog or online games; he wouldn't become a programmer, or spend much if any time in chat rooms or MMORPGs: he wouldn't be inclined to play with or interact with too many other people online, and he'd want the computer itself to do more. (His computer also would be a decorated cardboard box or, if it were this past decade and Watterson wanted to be kind of meta, a bunch of tied-together tubes.) The closest he'd probably get to wanting a computer is wanting a robot. (Oh: which he did at least once.) A robot he could control play with would be cool. Hobbes would be funny/slightly sardonic about the robot in a way Calvin wouldn't get, but that would add to the comedy.

This is all probably good, because if he really wanted to learn computers, Calvin could likely cause damage. As in WarGames damage or Oliver Wendell Jones-from-Bloom County damage: