And the answer: Calvin.
Created by Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes is an American newspaper comic strip that gained a large following. The eponymous main characters are an imaginative 6-year-old named Calvin, and his stuffed tiger named Hobbes.
Before Bill Watterson invented Calvin and Hobbes, the notion of heartfelt, philosophical musings between a young boy and his stuffed tiger seemed silly—if not downright strange. But since its original publication in 1985, Calvin and Hobbes has entertained countless readers of all ages, while portraying complex topics in a readable and enjoyable format. Watterson put so much thought into his characters and the subtleties within his work, that even the names of the cartoon’s protagonists are references drawn from philosophy: Calvin is named after the Swiss Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, while Hobbes is named after the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
Before creating Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson was a political cartoonist. After graduating from Kenyon College in Ohio (with a degree in political science, no less), Watterson worked at the Cincinnati Post in 1980 creating political cartoons. With an advanced understanding of philosophical leaders such as Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, and yes, Hobbes, Watterson decided to take his talents down a more whimsical route—yet complete with the same complexity.
As a result, Calvin and Hobbes delves into deeper conversations than many expect from a children’s comic. It questions American consumerism and consumption, considers the ethics of modern day dilemmas, and even dips a toe into ideas of existentialism—all through the light-hearted lens of a child seeking life’s big answers.
Interestingly, Watterson’s critical lens extends beyond the comic strip and into real life. Calvin and Hobbes ended its run in 1995 because Watterson opposed Universal Syndicate’s effort to commercialize and merchandize the strip—bringing truth to power. While the decades-long comic may have ended there, it continues to inform American values, culture, and life.
Learn more about Watterson and the creation of Calvin and Hobbes here.