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Awesome fun in a box!
12 November, 2013
I don't mind admitting that, for me, the high point of my morning newspaper has always been the Calvin and Hobbes strip. It has never failed to ensure that I start my day with a smile. The moment I found out that the entire Calvin and Hobbes series had hit the market, I knew I wanted it. After spending a few months trying to talk myself out of spending three grands on books at one go, I gave up and ordered it. Till date, it remains the best-spent three thousand rupees of my life. The thick, protective box that the four longish paperback books are nestled in, occupy the position of the ‘showstopper’ in my bookshelf (bang in the middle and right in the front) where it truly belongs. And whenever I meet someone new who I sense is even vaguely interested in reading, I want to grab them and ask them to read it (while making it abundantly clear that my set is not available for borrowing).
If you are reading this, you probably don’t need an introduction to Calvin and Hobbes. But let me give it anyway, like the proud mom who can’t help showing off her child to the world, holding up each of his achievements for the world to applaud.
Six-year-old Calvin is the child you can’t stop yourself from loving, but would probably not want around your house! But while he is in the safety of the book covers, you don’t want to dodge the nugget after nugget of fun he throws at you from the little sling he carries in his pocket (for all things evil). Calvin is an only child probably because his harried, worn out parents didn’t risk a second attempt in fear of producing a second Calvin. And he doesn’t seem to have many friends either. But that doesn’t mean he is lonely! Oh, far from it. Together with his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, -- sarcastic, loving and as Calvin says, ferocious – he is ever-ready to take on the world.
Calvin strongly feels school is a waste of time, they can’t teach him what he doesn’t already know or are teaching him things he will never need (I am with him on this). And thus, we find him sitting morbidly at the last bench, beating the boredom by churning out amazing adventures, using his supersonic imagination. While one moment he zooms off to save the planet on his aircraft, the next moment he is the prisoner of aliens. He traverses the Milky Way, takes the world by storm and faces challenges like a true hero. Unfortunately, his teachers are far from impressed, and when he is not being showered with F’s, he is being marched off to the Principal’s office. He cuts a solitary figure, with other children keeping their distance from the ‘bad boy’ who gets into trouble with disturbing regularity and comes up with hilarious excuses for not doing his homework.
Things are not much better at home either. While he knows it for a fact that he is cut out for bigger, better things, he is constantly pushed into mundane activities like cleaning his room, doing his homework, and taking out the trash, all of which, again, are a waste of time. On top of that, he is always blamed for things that ‘Hobbes did’. In spite of all such odds, he keeps himself happy by making hideous snowmen, snow-sledging with Hobbes, inventing new games with mind-boggling rules, going for pretend-explorations in the backyard, inventing high-end machines (all with a cardboard box and a pen), terrorizing his babysitters and keeping his parents on their toes 24*7.
And his wordly wisdoms! He is the kid who has an opinion on everything, and as hilarious as his opinions are, they stay with you, because at some level, this adorable, quirky kid with his spiky hair makes a lot of sense in the nonsensical things he says. Top that with the underlying subtle, often dark, humor, and you have the comic strip that is perfect for all ages! While kid readers look on Suzie – the ‘good’ girl who keeps coming back to play with Calvin even after he does everything to drive her away – as just that, adults would enjoy the budding romance that underlies their incessant fights. While kid readers identify with Calvin, adult readers would surely sympathize with his parents.
I read it in four days flat, and in a week’s time, I was ready to read it all over again. And I must have read it in whole at least five times in the last year, and innumerable time in parts. It simply doesn’t get stale, no matter how many times you laugh over it. The pages are smooth and super-glossy and handling the books are a real pleasure.
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