Oh, Calvin and Hobbes, how you defie convention. Such as my convention to always break a review into a summary of the plot and the actual review. But that won't work this time.
Calvin and Hobbes was my absolute favorite series when I was growing up, much to the chagrin of my parents (go ahead and ask them about the bathtub incident). It's also one of the rare series that I've beena ble to enjoy at any age. Doesn't matter how often I've read it, I always laugh. I just laugh for different reasons every time.
Oftentimes, when I write a review about the first episode or volume of a series I love, I have to add the caveat, "I swear it gets better later on." Calvin and Hobbes defies that convention entirely. Part of the reason for this is that there is no story to get better later. As an American comic strip the entire strength of the series lies in Watterson's sense of humor. And from the very beginning he comes out swinging like a heavy weight champion.
I went into this book expecting to enjoy myself, but always with the thought that these weren't the best strips of the series. And I was only partially right. I do believe that latter strips were funnier, but that does not in any way mean this first collection is any weaker than the other collections.
With only a few exceptions, Calvin and Hobbes introduces all the elements everyone remembers from the series. Spaceman Spiff, Snow Men, those horrible vacations, Susie Derkins, and Rosalin the babysitter. While there are elements that never came back into the series again. Such as the time Calvin was in boy scouts.
The best part about rereading Calvin and Hobbes is actually understanding why the strips are so funny. I thought I got it when I was ten, I thought I got it when I was fifteen to eighteen. But now, with the hindsight of adulthood I truly, honestly get it (await the retraction of that statement in another decade).
Even the best book becomes dull after having been read too many times, this is true more for my adult life than when I was younger. But this series is always fresh, year by year, precisely because there is something to enjoy at every age. It's like taking the training wheels off to not need to have jokes like, "Krakow! Krakow! Two direct hits!" explained to me.
While this collection does not contain any personal favorites, seeing where it all started, and where some of my favorite stories came from, really does fill me with nostalgia. And I don't think I really need to recommend this series to anyone that has grown up in America. We've all read it, and we all love it. I would recommend it to younger readers, to get them started early, but I'm afraid of the potential lawsuits from irate parents with massive repair bills. So perhaps wait a few years till you're not quite so impressionable.
Could I give anything Calvin and Hobbes any less? Of course not.
If you're bold, and have the cash to back it up, you'd be a fool for not getting the complete collection: The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Or, if you are more frugal, you can buy the individual volume: Calvin and Hobbes