Movie Review: Dear Mr. Watterson (2013) #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “D” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “D” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Dark DaysThe Day the Series StoppedThe Day the Series StoppedDecoding Desire, Dolphinsand Don’t You Forget About Me.

Title: Dear Mr. Watterson
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Director: Joel Allen Schroeder
Production Company: Fingerprint Films

I read and loved Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes as a child and young adult.  Along with Bloom County and The Far Side, I consider Calvin & Hobbes part of the last golden age of newspaper comics.  The comic actually premiered on my 12th birthday, November 18, 1985, and I remember the first comics I read were the debut of Calvin’s babysitter, Rosalyn (May 15, 1986 according to Wikipedia so not long after the strip began).  I read the newspaper comic and the many book compilations faithfully until the last strip on December 31, 1995.

This movie is made by and for other people who loved Calvin & Hobbes.  A lot of it is just people talking about how much they loved the comic and what it meant for them, which doesn’t make much of a good documentary.  But there are good segments as well, particularly interviews with comic strip artists who were inspired by Bill Watterson.

The movie also focuses on Bill Watterson’s influences, visiting his hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio that is actually recognizable as the background of Calvin & Hobbes strips.  Visits to the local library to see Watterson’s early work in Chagrin Falls’ newspaper and Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University, the archive that holds Watterson’s orignal artwork for Calvin & Hobbes, show the development of Watterson’s artistic style.  The film also discusses Watterson’s influences, particularly Little Nemo in Slumberland, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, and Pogo.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this documentary is the discussion of Watterson’s notable opposition of licensing Calvin & Hobbes for merchandising. Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, offers an interesting theory that Watterson feared losing control of his art.  Berkeley Breathed, creator of Bloom County and a contemporary of Watterson, also offers interesting insights, including sharing a letter Watterson mailed to him with a comic mocking Breathed for licensing his characters for toys.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Once you get past all the people just talking about loving Calvin & Hobbes, there are some interesting insights into process of making a comic strip and hints about the famously publicity-shy creator’s life.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

This documentary is similar in theme and style to Don’t You Forget About Me, where young fans of John Hughes’ movies sought to connect with him and express the importance of the movies in their lives.

Source:  Amazon Prime Video

Rating: **1/2

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Dear Mr. Watterson (2013) #atozchallenge

  1. Thank you! I´m not te kind of people who watches movie documentaries, perhaps because having kids, you need some action movie or cartoons to keep them with full attention to the tv…
    on second thoughs, I remember as a kid, I loved watching national geographic documentaries, I´m wondering if it´s similar, but with the focus on human stories.
    I apologize for not having time to comment all 4 posts, but I liked them, I was a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, too. My parents before, were fans of Mafalda, I don´t know if you ever knew her, although her comics were politically focused, I enjoyed her sense of humor.

    Looking forward to see what you have prepared next. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OMG, I’m so excited! How did I not know this movie existed?? I’m a ginormous C&H fan. Will absolutely watch this (maybe even right now)


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