Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Raise your hand if you love, absolutely love “Calvin and Hobbes” the comic strip created by Bill Watterson which ran from 1985 to 1995? Now those of you with your hands up, keep them up if you even marginally like your computer. What about when it doesn’t do what you expect? I’m not surprised how many hands went down. “Calvin and Hobbes” and your digital devices tap into emotional centers in our brain. It’s the emotion that ties us to people, places, and events.

Bill Watterson has taken a page from W.P. Kinsella’s portrayal of JD Salinger in “Shoeless Joe”. He’s near invisible publicly. Bill has been private, very private, since he retired his beloved best friend philosophers. In a connected world that’s a lot harder, so you might assume Bill isn’t connected at all. As Techlife recently learned, he may not love technology but he effectively uses email to shield himself but stay connected on his terms.

Bill apparently turned down a call from Steven Spielberg inquiring about making a feature length “Calvin and Hobbes” film. But apparently an email  from the famed director might have gotten through. How do we know? Because self-deprecating Stephan Pastis, himself a comic strip artist of  “Pearls Before Swine” and author tells the story of what happened when he emailed Bill and the story is amazing. (A must read!)

In short, he emailed Bill who shocked Stephan with the fact he was a reader and fan of “Pearls Before Swine”. He went on to astound Stephan  saying he had some strip ideas he wanted to ask him about.  The result was a collaboration, in secret, of three strips of “Pearls Before Swine”. And yes readers, this is real. After nearly 20 years of silence we were treated to three strips full of humor and art in true Bill-like fashion.

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis with special guest Bill Watterson

The best part for Techlife readers. Bill struggles with the same technology foibles we all do. Stephan recounts working together over distance was a challenge as Bill doesn’t like scanners or Photoshop or even large email attachments. Stephan admits the joy in helping Bill over email with tech support we can’t claim to be so lucky. The novelty for Stephan even might soon wear off if the requests keep coming.

Without getting cute and suggesting Bill draw himself out of the problem or use a cardboard box he converts to a Transmogrifier. What should a private person do when they aren’t going to use social media to ask for help or don’t want to ask the neighbor girl who’s a wiz and they aren’t even a world famous beloved recluse? You need your go-to, the internet. Bill could lurk in a forum or chatroom. He could use an alias such  as Susie Derkins or Miss Wormwood. Safe behind his avatar he can ask the world, how he might go about hooking up a wireless scanner to his computer or what service is best for those extra large attachments all while remaining his private self. For all I know maybe Bill reads Techlife and is just looking for this invitation.

Dear Spaceman Spiff,

Please share with me the terrestrial mundane issues you face while navigating your home world. Is it the laconic lexicon of texting or the subject of the simple smartphone? While we can’t claim to provide answers as interesting as your immersive imagination, we’ll do our best to provide you with the weapon of knowledge to fight the ferocious forces of technology.

Techlife of the Planet Earth

BILL WATTERSON: A cartoonist’s advice by Zen Pencils