Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stripped out

I was looking through our new Complete Calvin and Hobbes when I saw a strip that looked different than I remembered. I dug out our old anthologies and discovered I was right.

The strip in question is from 25 November 1988. I don't remember how it looked when it ran in the paper, but in the version collected in the 1990 anthology Weirdos from Another Planet!, the dialogue goes like this:

CALVIN: Watch out, Mom. I'm in a bad mood.
MOM: Be in a bad mood somewhere else, OK? I'm busy.
CALVIN: Hmph! I'll bet my biological mother would've bought me a comic book and made me feel better instead of shunning me like you.
MOM: Kid, anyone but your biological mother would've left you to the wolves long ago.
CALVIN: Yeah right. Really, how much did you pay for me?

In the Complete C&H, however, the phrase 'my/your biological mother' is changed to 'a good mother,' and Calvin's final bit of dialogue has been altered to: 'Yeah, right. Let's see your training certificate.'

Clearly, someone along the way decided that the original version was offensive to adoptive families. Since Bill Watterson is well known for exercising strict control over the strip, I can only assume that the change was his idea.

I certainly support an artist's right to change his or her work (heaven knows I've never published anything I didn't wish I could rewrite). I can also see why Watterson might have become concerned about the original strip, especially if he or someone close to him has adopted a child in the meantime. But the change will be disappointing to those who think the anthology should be a historical record of what actually appeared in papers at the time. What I find curious is that there's nothing in the book's introduction or promotional material to indicate that any of the strips have been altered.

I vaguely recall that there are a few other strips where Calvin voices suspicion that he was adopted; I'll have to look for these and find out if they've been changed as well.


At 12:43 am, Blogger Eduardo Peloso said...

I am very interested in buying "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" and I was wondering: did you compare other strips of this book with the original versions? Was there any modifications other than the one you posted on you Blog? I would thank you very much if you could email me about this, to

eduardodelpeloso at
(substitute "at" for "@").

Eduardo del Peloso

At 8:15 pm, Blogger Laura Brown said...

Hi Eduardo,

Unfortunately, I haven't yet had a chance to go through the whole thing -- I hope to do so soon, and will post any more differences I find on the blog.


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