Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Calvin and Lio

Yesterday I talked about how Mike Peters paid homage to Calvin and Hobbes in his comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm (see: Calvin and Grimm). Around the same time, Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio, launched a week-long sequence that also paid tribute to Bill Watterson's characters, but in an entirely different way. (click on images to enlarge).

Tatulli captures the maniac energy of Calvin, and even touches on one of the strip's tropes -- the  Transmogrifier Gun. Notice how Tatulli, even in this flight of fancy, remains true to Watterson's vision. When only Calvin is sharing the panel with his tiger companion Hobbes, the latter is always a talking, moving creature of independent thought. Whenever anyone else enters the scene, Hobbes is depicted as a much smaller, inanimate stuffed toy.

Note how Tatulli plays out the sequence. Brought back to life, Calvin immediately sets out to rescue his friend from the zoo. But Hobbes isn't behind a cage -- he's in the gift shop with the other toys. And because the story is always told for Lio's point of view, Hobbes never comes to life.

One can admire Watterson's skillful command of the pen, or his witty dialogues. But Tatulli shows he understands the core of what makes "Calvin and Hobbes" work -- the friction between mundane reality and exciting imaginary worlds. "Lio" is a very different type of comic strip with a very different sense of humor. To do such a tribute in a way that's true to both comics is masterful, indeed.

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