Holy crap! Calvin & Hobbes’ creator Bill Watterson has been secretly drawing a comic strip! Nobody knew it except Stephan Pastis, the author of Pearls Before Swine. You’re looking at his artwork right above these lines — the first two panels are drawn by the legendary cartoonist, the third by Pastis.
Pastis tells the fascinating — at least for a comic book nerd like me — story of how this collaboration started on his blog. He explains how he contacted Watterson and sent him this strip he just published that day:
Then tells how, after that email, Watterson proposed him a collaboration in Pastis’ strip, Pearls Before Swine. Understandably, Pastis couldn’t believe his luck:
[…] he had a great sense of humour about the strip I had done, and was very funny, and oh yeah…
…He had a comic strip idea he wanted to run by me.
Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.
This is another favourite passage of his tale:
At every point in the process, I feared I would say something wrong. And that Bill would disappear back into the ether. And that the whole thing would seem like a wisp of my imagination.
But it wasn’t that way.
Throughout the process, Bill was funny and flexible and easy to work with.
Like at one point when I wanted to change a line of dialogue he wrote, I prefaced it by saying, “I feel like a street urchin telling Michelangelo that David’s hands are too big.” But he liked the change. And that alone was probably the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.
The second panel you can see above these lines is Watterson’s first strip cartoon after two decades of almost total retirement (his only known drawing was this movie poster.)
You can see the entire series starting here, where Pastis introduces Watterson’s alter ego, a kid in Year 2 called Libby who believes Pastis draws like crap.