The Cheapening of the Comics

I’m sitting down right now, on my couch, on a Saturday afternoon. My spouse lured me here from my office room. She started play the film “Dear Mr. Watterson” and I couldn’t help but be drawn in (no pun intended) to the next room. She is pregnant and our baby boy is due in January. We are going to name him Calvin, after our childhood favorite comic character. So now you know why, on a Saturday afternoon in October, we are both watching this documentary intently.

I hadn’t seen the documentary until now, for whatever reason. I think its because I know a lot about what is being covered in the doc. I remember, when the film came out, that I wasn’t sure I agreed with the premise. Watterson didn’t want attention for himself as a person and wanted his comic to speak to the public for him. I knew all of that and I remember just thinking that the documentary premise was kind of crossing a line.

Watching it – its actually really good. I like the way that the filmmakers are educating the audience on the history and process of how comics work.

But that isn’t what this post is about. About halfway through the film someone mentioned a speech that Bill Watterson gave in 1989 at a comics conference. I immediately googled it, found it, started reading and then immediately realized a copy of the speech needed to be on

And, so, here it is. If I’m not supposed to have it posted on this site – please let me know.



“The Cheapening of the Comics”
A Speech by Bill Watterson

Originally found on

Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin & Hobbes) delivered the following speech at the Festival of Cartoon Art, held at Ohio State University in October 1989. Here he reflects on the Golden Age of comics, attacks the miserable state of modern strips, and suggests ideas on how the situation could be improved.

I received a letter from a 10-year-old this morning. He wrote, “Dear Mr. Watterson, I have been reading Calvin and Hobbes for a long time, and I’d like to know a few things. First, do you like the drawing of Calvin and Hobbes I did at the bottom of the page? Are you married, and do you have any kids? Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” What interested me about this last question was that he didn’t ask if I’d been apprehended or arrested, but if I’d been convicted. Maybe a lot of cartoonists get off on technicalities, I don’t know. It also interests me that he naturally assumed I wasn’t trifling with misdemeanors, but had gone straight to aggravated assaults and car thefts.

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Training Your Way Towards Your Goals

This was written as a response to one of my students in the “How To Make A Comic MOOC”  within our new “” Slack online community.

The Question:

I know that the challenge is to write within 16 panels for the course assignment. I also know its good for me to write within that constraint. But, I have a much longer comic in mind. Why is it so hard to write within a 16 panel constraint? (paraphrased question).

My Answer:

Concision is key! I’m also a person who likes longer form better as well. However, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to hone in on that feeling of “done-ness”. Without crafting a feeling of completion you can run into the bigger roadblock in the creation process – not knowing how to finish. Small projects are really key.

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Comic Road 2: Scripting Time!

I’m not going to lie. Scripting is my jam. I’m a writing kinda guy, so excuse me if I get a little resource happy here. But there’s so much stuff to learn about scripts that just giving you guys only a couple of resources might break my heart. So we’ll start at square one.

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Comic Road 1: Starting Your Comic

So you want to make a comic? That’s great! In fact, that’s exactly what a class full of students down at Chula Vista High Tech High wanted to do. And after designing an extensive curriculum, Making Comics Worldwide CEO Patrick Yurick, and incredibly handsome Editor-In-Chief Kevin Cullen, decided to bring all of you burgeoning comic creators into the mixture by giving you the opportunity to follow along with the Graphic Novel Project (GNP) students step by step through this blog! read more»

The Story Behind the “How To Make A Comic Book MOOC”

Reposted from

In November 2015 Coursera granted the High Tech High Graduate School of Education & Making Comics Worldwide $10,000 to create a project oriented massive open online course based on a proposal I submitted in October. This may sound like a lot of money, but it isn’t. Last year I created a course that was half of the size and had roughly five times the budget called the “Learning Mindsets & Skills MOOC”. To be fair, the LMS MOOC was one that had a more content specialist involvement and multimedia generated for it (videos, podcasts, etc.). For the comic MOOC I was able to draw on a multitude of great readings & podcasts from within and from outside of it — as well as my own exptertise as a comic book educator.

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#TalkingComics: Underdog Spotlight Ft. Keiiii (Heart of Keol)

In this edition of #TalkComics, I met up with Keiiii (four i’s), author and artist of the amazing webcomic, Heart of Keol. An incredibly beautiful webcomic, I was eager to peek into Keiiii’s process and how her Korean heritage plays an enormous role in the telling of her epic story.

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#TalkingComics: Underdog Spotlight Ft. Dory Holtzman (Poharex)

This week’s #TalkingComics turns its Sauron Eye on Dory Holtzman’s long-running webcomic known as Poharex. Watching the comic evolve over its expansive lifetime is really an inspirational glimpse into the evolution of one’s art and is one of the topics of our great little chat! read more»

Underdog Self Promo Sunday Recap – September

In this month’s Self Promo Sunday Recap for September we asked the following questions over in the Underdog Facebook Group and got some great answers. Check out the responses!

And if you want to participate in the monthly event, just join the Facebook group and keep your eyes and ears open during the first weekend of every month, which is when we hold Self Promo Sundays. read more»

If You Don’t Stand Up For Your Work, Who Will?

It’s understandable why self-deprecation is so common among amateur creators. People are afraid of being seen a certain way — full of themselves, oblivious to their own faults, practically inviting the harshest of criticisms. Making fun of your own work, belittling it, downplaying the bits you are actually proud of…this often gets used as a self-defense measure. read more»

#TalkingComics: Underdog Spotlight Ft. ELPP

This week’s #TalkingComics Underdog Spotlight takes aim at Evil Leprechaun Penguin Productions (known as ELPP to his friends and family) and his smorgasbord of comic projects. With such a variety of comic ideas to draw from, I was interested to see where he found the momentum to keep each project updated so regularly! read more»