Calvin’s Dad

Here is an excerpt from an interview of Bill Watterson by a Cleveland newspaper. In it he talks about creativity.

The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts.

I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can’t explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don’t think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once.

What he says pretty much goes for photography and any other creative medium.  Watterson’s talent is in his unique vision of the world and his expression of that world via the words and actions of a precocious six year old boy. My favorite strip was one in which Calvin asks his father why all old pictures are in black and white. His dad, instead of giving a sensible, informative answer tells him there was no color; the world was black and white back then (Calvin’s dad is my role model as I raise my children). The part that makes everyone laugh (and I give it to quite a few people to read, in fact it is pasted to the back of my work notebook) is where Calvin very insightfully responds to his dad’s statement with an observation that old paintings were in color and that if the world really was black and white back then wouldn’t the artists have painted it that way? Without missing a beat his dad responds, “Not necessarily, a lot of great artists were insane.”

Priceless.


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