Bill Watterson

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Washington, D.C.
Birth Sign
Washington, D.C.

Bill Watterson is a well-known cartoonist best known for his work on ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ He began drawing as a child and continued to contribute his artwork to high school and college magazines and newspapers. Even as a child, Bill Watterson knew he wanted to be a cartoonist. He immediately began working as one following his graduation, but he failed to achieve success as an editorial cartoonist. Bill Watterson achieved fame in 1985 with his comic strip ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ From 1985 to 1995, the comic strip was syndicated, at the conclusion of which he announced his retirement from cartooning. Bill Watterson has increased his interest in and time spent on painting since 1995. He has collaborated with other artists and used his artwork to support a variety of humanitarian causes. He is well-known for being an extremely private individual who rarely gives interviews. Bill Watterson is well-known for his strident opposition to comic book syndication, licensing, and merchandise based on his cartoon characters.

Childhood & Adolescence

Bill Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., USA on 5 July 1958 to G. Watterson and Kathryn. His father practiced law. Thomas Watterson is Bill Watterson’s brother. He and his family relocated to Ohio in 1965.

He spent the majority of his childhood drawing, which he began at the age of eight. He participated in artistic activities throughout his school years and was encouraged by his parents to pursue his interests.

Charles Schulz, George Herriman, and Walt Kelly were all major influences on him. He drew cartoons for the school yearbook and newspaper during his senior year of high school.

In 1976, Bill Watterson enrolled at Gambier’s Kenyon College. He drew political cartoons for the college newspaper ‘The Kenyon Collegian’ while in college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1980. He had, however, aspired to be a cartoonist and studied political science in preparation for editorial cartooning.

Career of Bill

Immediately following graduation, Bill Watterson was hired on a trial basis as an editorial cartoonist by the newspaper Cincinnati Post. However, due to his unfamiliarity with the political climate in Cincinnati, both he and the newspaper felt he was an unsuitable candidate for the job, and he was let go before his contract expired.

Bill Watterson then worked for a small advertising agency, where he was responsible for designing advertisements for groceries and other products. Simultaneously, he began devoting time to his own projects, which included drawing cartoons and submitting them to syndicates for publication in newspapers.

He had drawn for commodities, clothing, calendars, magazines, books, post cards, and posters as part of his freelance art work during that time period.

He received his big break when United Features Syndicate signed him to a development contract based on a comic strip concept titled ‘In the Doghouse’ that he submitted. They were, however, skeptical about their ability to sell the comic strip to newspapers.

In 1985, Universal Press Syndicate acquired the strip and began publishing ‘Calvin and Hobbes’. The cartoon was a huge success, and readers were drawn to Calvin’s expansive imagination as well as Hobbes’s observations, which were narrated thoughtfully.

He attempted to incorporate a number of his personal thoughts, ideas, and experiences into his comic strip. Several examples include his father’s talks on character development, his hobby of cycling, and his entrepreneurial and marketing ideas.

The comic strip’s title character was inspired by the names of theologian John Calvin and philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Following the success of this comic strip, the Universal Press Syndicate was eager to develop and market ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ merchandise. Bill Watterson, on the other hand, was adamantly opposed to this notion.

Bill Watterson was subjected to intense pressure from the syndicate regarding his work’s merchandising. However, he believed that merchandising would dilute the value of his comic and eventually won the battle against merchandising. The prolonged struggle emotionally exhausted him, and he took a nine-month sabbatical in 1991.

Following his sabbatical, Bill Watterson declared that his comic strip would require a half-page spread in Sunday newspapers, allowing him to include more content without fear of running out of space. This was not well received by many contemporaries and newspapers, and they were eventually presented with two options. In 1994, he took a second sabbatical from work.

After ten years of successfully running the comic strip, Bill Watterson announced in 1995 that he would be discontinuing it, as he had accomplished everything possible with it. On 31 December 1995, the final piece was published.

Bill Watterson has maintained an extremely private life following the conclusion of the comic strip, declining interviews and media attention. He is believed to have developed an interest in painting.

In December 1999, he published a brief note announcing the impending end of the iconic comic strip ‘Peanuts’. In 2005, he responded to reader questions, and two years later, he published a review of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s biography, ‘Schulz and Peanuts’.

Since the end of his comic strip in 2010, he has given only two interviews, the first in 2010 for newspaper ‘The Plain Dealer’ and the second in October 2013 for magazine ‘Mental Floss’. He stated in interviews that he was satisfied with his decision to discontinue the comic strip.

Significant Works of Bill

Bill Watterson is best known as the creator of the comic strip ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ For a decade, the comic strip ran successfully in newspapers, earning him widespread recognition and awards.

Awards and Accomplishments

Bill Watterson did not join the National Cartoonists Society, but he was a recipient of numerous prestigious NCS awards, as well as several other honors.

1986. The NCS presented Bill Watterson with the Reuben Award for ‘Cartoonist of the Year.’ In 1988, he received the same award once more.

In 1988, the National Cartoonists Society presented him with the ‘Newspaper Comic Strips Award.’

In 1989, he won the Harvey Award for his work ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ in the ‘Special Award for Humor’ category. For seven consecutive years, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996, he won the Harvey Award for ‘Best Syndicated Comic Strip.’

He won the Max & Moritz Prize for Best Comic Strip in 1990 for Calvin & Hobbes. In 1992, he was awarded the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Prize for Best Foreign Comic Book.

Bill Watterson received the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Grand Prix Award in 2014.

Personal History and Legacies

In 1983, Bill Watterson married Melissa Richmond. The couple currently resides in Cleveland and maintains a low public profile.

Humanitarian Action of Bill

Bill Watterson and cartoonist Stephan Pastis collaborated on the comic strip ‘Pearls before Swine’ in 2014 as a fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease research. The pair teamed up to support the Michael J Foundation and Team Cul de Sac.

Additionally, he contributed poster art for the documentary ‘Stripped’.

Estimated Net Worth

Bill Watterson is a $100 million dollar American artist and author. He is best known as the creator and illustrator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, which ran from 1985 to 1995 and spawned dozens of books.