Calvin and Hobbes is known for many things, like showing off childhood imagination and making statements about everything from politics to the environment. Yet what many people might overlook is just how much advice Calvin’s dad gave him over the strip’s 10-year run.
His father is mostly known for disciplining Calvin and giving good advice about how the world works, even though it’s rarely what Calvin wants to hear. Even when Calvin doesn’t quite learn his lesson, his dad’s life lessons are worth taking to heart for Calvin as well as the reader.
Education Is Very Important
Parents want nothing more than their children to succeed in school. But to do that, they need to study, which is exactly what Dad is trying to teach to Calvin in this 1987 strip.
After Calvin fakes amnesia when his Dad confronts him about a poor test score, he sits him down and explains to him that education is very important. While this advice is sound, given that Calvin’s test scores don’t improve whatsoever over the course of the series, it’s obvious that Calvin ignores this big piece of advice. Still, this advice shows just how much Dad cares about Calvin’s education and wants him to succeed in life.
It’s Good To Have To Wait For Something
Calvin is a hyperactive child throughout some of the funniest Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. Though there are still a few times when he does take some time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the world.
This stems directly from advice given to him by his Dad early in the strip’s run. When Calvin is frustrated about how long it’s taking for the grill to heat up for hamburgers, Dad tells him that, instead of wanting everything to happen now, that it’s good to wait sometimes and enjoy the quiet moments in life. It’s perfectly good advice, and while Calvin doesn’t seem to listen to it by the end of the strip, later strips do show him taking time off to relax and enjoy beautiful moments without being his usual, energetic self.
Family Outings Are Valuable Experiences
One of the many funny running gags in Calvin and Hobbes are various strips in which the family takes a camping vacation. These trips, which only Calvin’s dad seems to enjoy, give him a chance to give more advice to Calvin.
This piece of advice from the camping arc in 1988 not only gives off the advice on the importance of family togetherness, but also shows in the final panel that Dad knows that everyone hates camping and spending too much time so close together can be too much for even him to handle. Despite this, he still believes that family outings are valuable experiences, something he wants to impart on Calvin so that he too understands the importance of being together with his family.
Anticipation Is Fun
Calvin is far from being a patient kid. When he wants something, he wants it immediately. However, his Dad has told him otherwise, telling him that the anticipation of having something is more fun than actually having it.
This, of course, is more advice that Calvin wants to ignore. Because he’s only 6 years old, he wants everything to happen right when he wants it. He refuses to wait for anything. But Dad’s advice here makes more sense here; once someone has something they want, the feeling of anticipation for it goes away. Of course, there are certain things that people don’t want to have instantly, as Hobbes points out in the end of this strip.
Throwing Snowballs At Someone Is Bad
Sometimes Calvin asks his dad hypothetical questions about something he’s about to do. Dad responds with advice that usually warns Calvin not to do what he’s about to do.
In the case of this advice, it pretty much boils down to “don’t throw snow at Dad.” When Calvin asks him about intentionally missing someone with a snowball, Dad figures out pretty quickly that he’s talking about him, and shuts down Calvin’s plan with a veiled warning. Many times he’s had to warn Calvin off of doing crazy things that could cause trouble with friendly “advice” or threats, and this time is no exception. He doesn’t want to punish Calvin, but he will if he has to, which is why he gives this advice in this strip.
Fun Builds Character
Though Calvin loves to spend times outdoors, he also loves to stay inside and watch TV, which has led to his dad kicking him out and forcing him to have fun outside. This series of three strips from 1990 is no exception.
After kicking Calvin out of the house, Calvin has more fun outside than he would’ve inside watching TV, a fact that Dad points out afterwards. He gives some advice in this strip, noting that he had more fun by doing something real rather than watching something fake. This advice can be summed up as “fun builds character.” Of course, a lesson like this makes Calvin unhappy, as building character is one of his least favorite things.
Everyone Needs To Know Math
The frustration of parenting is often the source of humor in Calvin and Hobbes. Both Mom and Dad try their best to help Calvin, but things still usually ends in disaster.
Dad especially tries his best, especially in this strip when he tries to teach Calvin how to add. He means well, and the advice he gives here and in the following strip is good advice when trying to teach a 6-year-old how to add. Unfortunately, Calvin forgets pretty much everything on the following day’s math quiz and lets his imagination run wild once more. Then again, given that Calvin’s performance in school is rarely adequate, it’s hard to see this latest advice from Dad go any other way.
There Are Few Pleasures Greater Than Learning
It’s no secret that Calvin hates homework and learning about new things that don’t interest him. This leads him to try to skip homework whenever possible – something that Dad doesn’t appreciate too much.
In this strip, he forces Calvin to come inside and tells him that “there are few pleasures greater than learning.” When Calvin once again tries to protest, Dad threatens him once again to obey or face the consequences. Once again, it shows that he wants what’s best for Calvin and his future. Unfortunately, Calvin’s stubbornness and desire to always have fun always seems to get in the way of the two’s different ideals.
Losing Is A Part Of Life
Calvin and Hobbes doesn’t normally have comics with Calvin facing emotionally devastating outcomes, but sometimes Calvin must reckon with horrible truths — or at least truths that are horrible in Calvin’s mind.
When Calvin looses a poster contest to Suzie, he tries to get his dad to try to force a change. Dad, in response, tells him that losing is a part of life and that he should be a good sport. For anyone else, this would be advice that can easily be taken to heart. But for Calvin, a frequent sore loser, refuses to accept this. He believes he really won, and the drawing was rigged against him from the start.
You Need A Goal
Throughout the 10-year run of Calvin and Hobbes, a recurring gag is Calvin attempting to ride his bike only for it to either fail or chase after him with the intent to kill. By the end, he still hasn’t learned how to ride it, despite the best efforts of his dad.
In this series of strips from June 1995, Dad attempts once again to teach Calvin how to ride his bike, giving some advice on how to balance on it without falling off. Calvin, of course, spends the whole lesson in fear of the bike trying to kill him once more. Dad’s advice once again is for nothing as Calvin ends the lesson and returns to his room, keeping him once again living in fear that, one day, the bike will finally find a way to murder him.
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