Calvin and Hobbes
Few comics have ever carried such a cultural cache as Calvin and Hobbes. Begun in 1985 and ending triumphantly ten years later, the fascinating story of a six year old boy and his "stuffed" tiger and their adventures defined generations of comics readers and introduced folks the world over to such characters as Calvin, the precocious six year old with an infinite imagination. Hobbes, his tiger that is as real to him as his own bedroom, but is just a stuffed animal to everyone else. Suzie Derkins, Calvin's foil and ever annoying voice of reason. Calvin's Mom and Dad, his long suffering parents who have to deal with Calvin's ever growing and elaborate flights of fancy. Not to mention Calvin's alter-egos: Tracer Bullet, Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Man, and a host of other unforgettable characters. Calvin and Hobbes introduced us to Calvinball (the only rule is that you can't use the same rule twice), G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS), the time machine, Tyrannosaurus Rex in F-14s, and the transmogrifier. Over the years, Calvin and Hobbes helped shape popular culture, the zeitgeist of the late 80s and early 90s, and proved to millions that it was still possible to have beautiful artwork in the Sunday funnies. At times poignant, others, thought provoking, and more often than not, uproariously funny. Calvin and Hobbes is one of the few comic strips that have managed to stand the test of time, transcending the years to remain as relevant today as it was over thirty years ago. Watterson famously fought with his syndicate for years over licensing rights and actually managed to get them to back off of the crass commercialization of his intellectual property. After ten years of doing the strip, Watterson hung up his pens to pursue retirement and a painting career. An extremely private individual, he grants no interviews, and until a couple of years ago, didn't do any cartoon work (the streak was broken with a surprise run on Stephen Pastis' Pearls Before Swine) at all. A quick Google search shows that there are many, many dissertations and scholarly papers that have been written about Calvin and Hobbes, hundreds of people have Calvin and Hobbes tattoos (myself included), and the black market intellectual theft market made a killing on the image of Calvin pissing on various things - which is a testament to the power and influence of a comic strip that could have just as easily failed without making a mark. Fortunately, Calvin and Hobbes proved to be just as popular as it was influential, and all the books are still in print, which is an extra bonus.