Over the summer, I checked out all three (very heavy volumes) of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes from Multnomah County Library. My intention: to pour through their pages and note those comic strips focusing on the relationship between children and nature. And there’s a lot of them. Granted, Calvin and his sidekick Hobbes (a stuffed tiger that is alive only to him) spend much of their time outside: reveling in the seasons, having snowball fights and creating all manner of snowman scenes, playing in a fort and going over the politics of having a club, imagining what life would be like as a dinosaur, especially at school (and digging them up!), encountering alien landscapes and aliens as Space Spiffman, pondering the relationships between humans and animals, and going on philosophical romps through their local woods.
Beyond those strips, there are many that specifically address the issue of children not spending enough time outside and too much time connected to technology (here it was just television, as the comic strip started in 1985 and ran through 1995). Long before Richard Louv published Last Child in the Woods, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson was sounding an alarm call through the funnies: children need to play outside and be connected to nature!
I collected 169 comic strips and images and posted them as a set on my Flickr page (here) This is not a comprehensive collection, meaning it does not include every single strip where Calvin and Hobbes were doing something outside; instead, these strips focus on particular messages about both the positive and negative aspects (or perceived negative aspects) of spending time outside and in nature.
“Explorers are we, intrepid and bold,
Out in the wild, amongst wonders untold.
Equipped with our wits, a map, and a snack,
We’re searching for fun we’re on the right track!”
I understand that these strips are the copyright of Watterson and his publisher, so if they must be taken down, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do so promptly.