LEARNING FROM COMIC STRIPS—CALVIN AND HOBBES. I posted here about a boy trying to learn to read by watching other children stretched out on the floor reading the “funny papers”. I thought of this when I read this post by Nick Martens (link via South Side Sox blog) which analyzes some of the experimental things Bill Watterson did with his later Sunday comic strips for Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson had artistic control of the panel design for the Sunday strip for the last three years of Calvin and Hobbes (1992 to 1995). Martens analyzes six of the Sunday strips, showing how Watterson used his freedom to tell each story more effectively. Here is one example: whitespace and borderless panels on top and bottom show the freedom and tranquility Calvin feels at home. But the black frame traps him at school, where the jagged, crowded panels underscore his chaotic and dreadful day. Watterson also stretches out the final panel and sets it against copious whitespace, so the eye to lingers on the melancholy resolution.” I recommend you look at the strips and the analyses. I think that looking at these creative stretchings of the format must have influenced some of the children who were part of the audience to have more freedom in their approach to art and to stories.

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  1. Nick says:

    I remember seeing those in our Calvin & Hobbes collections that I dutifully kept next to my bed for years. There is no doubt that there was a profound emotional impact to a lot of those strips, and in retrospect I can remember instances where this style resonated with me (although I could not have told you why).

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