Even when it’s just a short interview, I’m completely blown away by Bill Watterson. He’s humble, he’s gracious, he’s insightful…I always forget to list him among my most-admired artists. Calvin & Hobbes was, by an absurd margin, my favorite newspaper strip and I firmly believe that his work is among the important literature of the second half of the 20th century, and I mean that literally and without irony.
So, go read the interview, but there’s one section that touches on a subject I’ve addressed here before:
Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture?
Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. All the new media will inevitably change the look, function, and maybe even the purpose of comics, but comics are vibrant and versatile, so I think they’ll continue to find relevance one way or another. But they definitely won’t be the same as what I grew up with.
I love reading traditional artists who may still prefer the old ways, but who also understands the what has changed in the industry. I’ve read so many interviews with artists who’ve done well in the past who don’t want the world to change, don’t understand how it’s changing, and they’re angry that they can’t stop the change. Watterson’s obviously a thoughtful, reasonable guy who I really hope doesn’t completely avoid the public eye in the future. Not that he owes us anything, but I’m greedy that way.