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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
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1,714 of 1,747 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
(I just received this today--The Complete Calvin and Hobbes! 10/4/05)

4.9 Stars

The collection consists of 3 books within one slipcase. Each page notes the date(s) of original publication of the strip(s) on that page. The strips have an appearance of being imposed on the page separately in respect to their original publication dates. This differs from other Calvin and Hobbes collections/treasuries; within those pages you find the strips laid out as a combined whole without distinction between each strip. There are also, of course, the wonderful watercolors by Watterson which appear occasionally, on pages respective of content and chronological order.

Book One starts with a 14-page introduction/forward written autobiographically by Watterson on his view of comics and his relationship with Calvin and Hobbes. Includes photo of Sprite and a few other comics/early works by Watterson, as well as an early version of Calvin and Hobbes. Book One includes all the comics of 1985-1988; Book Two 1988-1992; Book Three 1992-1995.

This is definitely an archival collection and not ideal for constant casual perusing, though the attractiveness makes it hard to resist. The printing, layout, paper, binding are beautiful but any wear and tear would be heart-breaking. This leads me to describe one drawback: these books aren't really hardbound books. They look so, because of their hard covers, but actually they are what's called "cardboard articles", meaning the pages are not stitched to the spine, and instead glued. Albiet, this is common book binding practice, but I'm sure most of us wouldn't have minded paying some more for real hardbound articles for the sake of longevity in preservation. So although this collection is best left for archival purposes, it's unfortunate they are not exactly archival quality.

Despite the books being cardboard articles, the pages are easy to open up without damaging the fabric covered spine due to the generous space and horizontal orientation. However the images of Calvin and Hobbes on the front and back faces of the slipcase are printed on separate squares of paper glued to the surface, rather than integrated, or printed directly on. This is something I realized as I slid the collection onto my bookshelf and found I had to be careful or the sides of those squares might catch and lift a bit.

The total collection weighs about 22.5 lbs, which makes it a bit awkward to handle. This wouldn't be such an issue except the books are snugly fit within the slipcase, meaning they're a bit difficult to extract without having to tilt the case forward a bit. It would be ideal if the slipcase had round cuts on the top and bottom corresponding to each book so one's fingertips could pry out the books with ease.

The bottom line is that for Calvin and Hobbes fans who want to own a nice comprehensive collection, imperfections are there, but not enough to deter. The beauty of the pages and the excitement of owning this make those issues mere minor annoyances. It is also the ideal purchase for those who are new to Calvin and Hobbes. At one concise and reasonable price you get the Complete Calvin and Hobbes. This collection is sure to please. Yes, I admit, I am a bit prejudiced by my absolute adoration for this boy and his tiger.
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492 of 502 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love this strip and I was very excited to see it collected completely in a lovely boxed set. I have only one fault with the item but it is a big one. For a set of this nature and for this price, you would think the publishers could have spent a few extra bucks and given the thing a proper binding! I've read through the collection only twice and the spine is already cracked on volume one and a page has actually come out! How much could a real stitched binding have added to the price? I plan to send my books off to Southern Binding and have them sewn. It will cost me about $30 but I believe it will be well worth it in the long run. Still, I'd rather have paid a few more buck up front.
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202 of 221 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me first say that Calvin and Hobbes is by far my favorite cartoon strip of all time. Even better than Far Side. When I first heard that this complete set was coming out I was thrilled! Finally all of Bill Watterson's work would be available in one deluxe book set! This is why I was kind of upset after really going through the set to find out that it's really not complete. It's very close...but definitely not complete.

Sure this set contains all the comics that ran in the newspapers, plus the cover art for the books, and various other special pictures/poems Bill drew for the series... but if you check out some of the older Calvin & Hobbes collections that were released, you'll find a whole bunch of really funny one-picture strips mixed in with the comic strips that are not included in this set. These were never put in the newspapers, they were probably made specifically for the older collections just to fill up space. For example, one of these one-picture strips featured in the very first Calvin and Hobbes collection shows a terrified Calvin in the back of car his Mom is driving holding up a big sign to the other drivers that says he's been kidnapped. Hilarious stuff...which makes me wonder why it wasn't included in this "COMPLETE" Calvin and Hobbes set.

Then there's also a bunch of pictures at the beginning and end of certain Calvin and Hobbes colections that didn't make it to these sets. For instance, at the very end of the collection "Scientific Progess Goes Boink", there is a large picture showing Susie looking down on the sidewalk shocked to see a crude drawing of herself, while Calvin and Hobbes are laughing behind a tree. Why wasn't this included?!

All in all, I do realize that I'm nitpicking with these left out pictures and one-picture strips. I just wish everything from all the previous collections was included, then I'd consider it truly complete. I really don't think it would have killed them to put in another dozen or so pages into this set so that everything from the older books was included. However, with that exception this collection is a must-have to any Calvin and Hobbes fan. It's well-made, looks terrific, and is worth every penny. I'd like to give it five stars, but I simply have to take off one star for the missing artwork.
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161 of 182 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Don't think I could add a whole lot more to what's already been said about the collection.
However, one point thats been slightly understated is the weight. The package is big, heavy and unweildy. With each book weighing just over 7 lbs., God Forbid if you drop one of 'em on your foot.
Also, if you're buying the collection to READ the stories, it would make more sense to buy the individual books (as many fans, including myself already have the other books and bought this as a collectors item - this is something you want preserved, not dog-eared in a year). There is a website out there that specifically lists which of the C&H books you would need to have in order to own every single strip without duplicates.

But having said all that, and aside from any doting fanglorious discourse, what I really liked about the collection was that:
1) Since it has the strip in chronological order, its the first opportunity to watch how Bill Watterson's artwork and style evolved over the years. It also gives you the chance to see when new characters and alter-egos of Calvin were introduced into the strip- I was a kid when C&H ran in my newspaper so I dont remember whether Rosalyn came in right from the beginning or at the end of the series, etc.
2) The lengthy preface by the reclusive Watterson is itself worth the cost of the book. Hearing his take on how the strip came about, his philosophy on things and his piece on why he was against merchandising the characters, are all priceless bits of information. Happy Reading!
An intersting bit of C&H trivia - Hampster Huey & the Gooey Kablooie really is a book (and you can buy it on Amazon too!).
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Many people here are probably familiar with Calvin and Hobbes, with the often manic Calvin and his comrade in adventure/escapades, Hobbes. Many have probably already bought various compilations of the comic strips and looked through them again and again. So why buy THIS collection?

Mainly because it goes WAY beyond anything else that is already out there - and not just because it contains EVERY single one of the comic strips in one collection, nicely slipcased. Buy it because it comes closest to reflecting what Bill Watterson, creator of these comics, wanted, exceptional color quality, pretty much up to his very perfectionistic standards. Buy it because for the first time you'll see the comic in as close to perfect form as you'll find...and yes, buy it because you'll finally have all of the strips in one set.

How much of a perfectionist was Watterson when it came to having control over his beloved characters? Well, imagine turning down a call from Steven Spielberg because you just aren't interested in collaborating with anyone, genius or not, on a work based on your comic strip. Imagine giving up lucrative contracts for lunch boxes, animated films, stuffed Calvin and Hobbes figures.

Whether you think that turning down all those potentially lucrative opportunities was admirable or crazy, there is no denying that he poured his heart, soul and psyche into his work, not distracted by meetings about the design of a lunch box or the decal that woould appear on clothing.

Nope, he just did his work, day in and day out, until he decided, at an early age (around 37) that he'd done enough and simply....stopped. That was a sad day for me,as I'd grown to love Calvin and Hobbes and their unique world, one in which you never really knew the names of Calvin's parents (anyone know?), one in which his teacher could morph into a monster, one that exemplified the psyche of one little boy so well and which hasn't been equaled since.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is just to correct the review below which states that the pages are glued to the spine instead of sewn. This is not true. The pages are indeed bound in signatures, 6-page signatures to be precise (I believe this is not an usual number, but the paper is thick; they are signatures all the same), 8 stitches per signature. Which to my eyes is a very good binding, as good as any hardback and better than most.

On the other hand, I would have liked a complete cloth cover, instead of half paper-half cloth. I see the paper corners wearing out, etc. But on the glued-sewn business, there are no complaints.

The contents themselves are well described elsewhere on this page and they are simply fantastic.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes" was and is a singular achievement in art, blending the distinctive fantastic integrity of George Herriman's "Krazy Kat," and Berke Breathed's "Bloom County," the simple exploration of humanity of George Schulz's enduring "Peanuts," and raising and perfecting the lesser talents of Hank Ketcham's circumscribed worldview of "Dennis the Menace," and Gary Larson's skewed humor in "Far Side." From this constellation of comparisons, Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes" is by far the brightest star, a supernova against white dwarfs, for it also adds and reveals an interior narrative that is simultaneously whimsical, and profound and moving like the deepest texts of ancient culture. To say that Watterson has created a visual poetic achievement on the scale of The Odyssey or The Holy Bible is not overstated, for as the appearance of this volume attests, something very significant has been achieved here. And yet, like blowing the seeds of a dandelion, it also is fun.

It has been previously noted, but frankly too little has been said, of Watterson's refusal to license the Calvin and Hobbes characters for mass market merchandising. Such costly integrity is unknown in this day and age, and therefore a text such as this merits more critical attention, for Watterson has therefore said more loudly than he ever otherwise could have that he is saying something with his art that is beyond price. He could not sell it in that way, and as he allows in his few writings outside of the comic strip itself, Calvin and Hobbes is a deeply personal creation. Perhaps most of us will never be able to create something ourselves so deeply personal, and so we must pause and attention must be paid to the artist who has, particularly the artist who has at great cost.

Fandom has explored the philosophical dimensions of "Calvin" versus "Hobbes" in the strip, and this again points to the inexhaustible nature of this classic text, for new dimensions are emerging in online discussions even now. Apart from the artistic integrity of the illustrations, Watterson's narrative is proving to be enduring beyond generations, combining the summit of achievement in two fields. Watterson is, therefore, an American artist simultaneously equal to both Mark Twain and John James Audubon, and from his merits deserves the Nobel Prize for literature. Would that the committee had the vision, this volume would certainly be among the finest ever to be recognized.

As I live in France, I currently am among the few in the world to enjoy "Calvin and Hobbes" daily re-runs in "The International Herald Tribune." This is always a delight, yet Watterson would weep at the compressed space in which his creation appears. This volume, therefore, corrects what many of us suffered under during "Calvin and Hobbes" print run and displays the strips in their proper originally intended size, with the Sunday features fully colored and breathtaking. For that alone this volume deserves five stars, and the additional collected material on Watterson's battle with comic space editors is always a welcome re-read.

Watterson's deceptively simple use of line has influenced a new generation of artists, among notable ones are Aaron McGruder and his current strip "Boondocks" and children's illustrator Jeff (Jef) Kaminsky in his "Poppy and Ella" and other works. For this legacy, Watterson is to be thanked. But for this complete collection and the excellent material assembled here as a permanent library worthy edition, Watterson deserves the highest distinctions both this nation and the world can offer. Let us hope that with the appearance of "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" this recognition is hastened.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So happy to have this come out. Each strip is still as hilarious as the first time I read them decades ago!

As pointed out by someone previously it does omit some of the cute little sketches that were included (possibly as filler?) in some of the books and that's a bit of a shame, but really everything else is in here and is so well done and in such high quality it's hard to complain. As others have stated, 2 of the comics which used to refer to adoption have been changed. (If you read his 10th anniversary collection he kind of talks about how some people were offended by his lumping adoption and cannibalism.) I will be keeping the 10th anniversary edition because it has introductions by him explaining his philosophy/motivations but otherwise I think this collection almost perfectly replaces having to have 14 separate books.
I love how each page is dated so you can read it chronologically!

The only minor flaw is what seems like 2 coloring errors. On Sunday, May 10th (I think '86 or '87) the second panel (where he says "Dead Worms") shows Calvin's shirt as white (all the other panels are in red as usual) -was this a misprint? Then on Nov. 19, 1989 in the first panel Calvin's seen dressing in the usual striped red tshirt w/ a turquoise coat. In the 3rd panel he's suddenly in a pink shirt. Then in subsequent panels he's back to the red striped shirt & blue jacket. With all the care they obviously put into this it seems a bit strange.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a treat for all Calvin fans like myself. I caught on Watterson only about five years back and since then I've always picked up the hard-cover books every chance I got. This collection is the complete compendium of all the Calvin and Hobbes strips published by Watterson that no true-to-the-bones fan can pass up on!

The strips in the books are arranged by date of publication, unlike the previous books. Each page carries the original publication dates of the strips on that page. True to form, the black and white strips are interspersed with full colour pages i.e. the sunday pages. Having the scripts laid out by time is great because one can see how the characters, themes and plots developed over the course of the years. Book 1 carries a great introduction by Watterson where he shares his opinions and experiences, the early history and hardships that he endured. I found this a very fitting start to the collection and it gave me more insights into the creator's mind. Watterson is a very frank person and Calvin and Hobbes are his true avtars.

The downside is that the books are very unwieldy; the 3 books with the dust jacket are difficult to carry around and it's ofcourse cumbersome to lie anywhere with even a single of these. The paper quality is good, but the overall finish leaves more to be desired. I also think it would have been great if the author had scattered commentaries and tidbits of information throughout the strips. An index at the end that cross-referenced strips based on either the plot or jokes would have been great so that you could easily find a particular strip that you read long back. Oh well...

Despite the cons, we should feel lucky to have this collection.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The collection is collected in three sturdy, handsome books. The binding is durable, the pages are thick and strong. Though the books are heavy together with the slipcase, each individual book is of a manageable heft.

Compared to collecting the individual paperback trades, I think this collection is superior. The strips are all the larger size that Watterson wanted it to be presented for the reader, and the Sunday strips are all in full color. The rectangular shape of the later paperback trades felt flimsy and unwieldy, but with the sturdy hardcover of the collection, it feels just right. All of the extras of the treasury editions are included except for the behind-the-scenes commentary in the 10th anniversary edition. Finally, it's all less expensive than purchasing the lighter individual trades, and a more compact and safe way to store the complete collection for generations to come.

The only reason I think to get the paperback editions is if portability is a high priority and you wanted to read the strips while on a train or outside somewhere. The collection is definitely made for indoor viewing and you would want to keep the pages smudge, dirt, and food-free (though the thick glossy stock seems easily cleanable).

If you treasure the strip, want to save it for your own children to come, and don't intend to do a lot of portable or outdoor reading, then this collection is right for you.
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