• The strip is vaguely set in the contemporary Midwestern United States, on the outskirts of suburbia. The location is apparently inspired by Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where Watterson lived. On the back of the first Calvin and Hobbes treasury, Calvin is portrayed as a giant destroying downtown Chagrin Falls, holding the local popcorn shop in his hands. On another occasion, Hobbes recalls that Calvin's house is near the letter "E" in the word "STATES" on a map of the U.S. Cartoonist Bill Watterson set Calvin and Hobbes, his comic strip, in an area of suburbia, from which the main character often escapes into realms of fantasy. Most strips avoid giving specific clues to where Calvin's home may be located, both not to be bound by pointlessly particular local detail and keep the everyman appeal, and—as The Simpsons did later—to play with the readers' curiosity about such trivia. (In one strip, Calvin's teacher Miss Wormwood asks him to name the state in which he lives, but he replies "Denial".) However, Watterson gives rather more clues which aren't as self-contradictory as The Simpsons. Most of these clues are consistent with a location in the American Midwest, and several point to Ohio in particular. Hobbes once describes their home, when looking for it from space, as near the "E" in "States" (as in the United States) in an atlas. During the winter months, snow is a common feature in the strip, so the setting is almost certainly northern. Watterson's hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, Ohio, is in the Lake Erie snowbelt and gets copious amounts of snow. In one strip, Calvin references a stegosaurus in front of the local natural history museum. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a metal stegosaurus in front of it. In a caption in one of his books, Watterson mentions that "in November strips, I always tried to capture that austere, gray, brambly look that Ohio gets," Ohio being where he grew up and began writing the strip. Calvin's dad mentions that flying to California from their house would cause a three-hour loss, indicating that the setting is located somewhere observing Eastern Daylight Time. This should be taken with some caution as his father is notoriously unreliable when it comes to many science facts. Many of Calvin's Spaceman Spiff fantasies take place on alien worlds whose topographies resemble the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah; believing that specific details are funnier than generalizations, Watterson drew these details from the localities with which he was most familiar. These references to the United States Southwest also allude to the Protean and ever-shifting Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat makes its home. Several storylines show that Calvin's home is not too far removed from a "downtown" area where Calvin's father works, complete with skyscrapers. He usually visits the city in his imagination, by growing to garguantuan size or by appropriating a flying carpet. When a helium balloon accidentally carries him to high altitude, he observes his town's local geography, indicating that even the suburb he inhabits has a sizeable population. The July 12, 1992 strip shows Calvin on a giant slide that extends far above the surface of the Earth. The Great Lakes are shown, and the point at which the slide seems to end is somewhat southeast of the Great Lakes, though further geographic details are obscured by clouds. The location where the slide ends is in or near the Ohio Valley. Although Watterson portrays large expanses of unspoiled forest, he also addresses the problem of urban sprawl, showing a grove of trees that had been demolished to make way for "Shady Acres Condominiums." Hobbes observes that on a globe (drawn average size in the strip), their house is six inches from the Yukon. The back cover of the Essential Calvin and Hobbes collection shows Calvin as a giant, rampaging through and destroying a suburban area (probably in homage to the Godzilla films). This area is identifiably downtown Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This is seen in the uncanny likeness of the street setup, the gazebo and clocktower, and finally, the building Calvin is holding, which is the exact image of the Popcorn Shop, a local landmark. In one of the strips, Calvin's mother yells out to Calvin "Are you drinking more soda pop?!" which might mean that the strip is located somewhere in the Midwest. Other regions of the United States use different colloquialisms for carbonated, flavored beverages; see "Pop vs. Soda" or the Dialect Survey. (To be pedantic, this might only indicate where Calvin's mother acquired her colloquial speech, but the Dialect Survey results are consistent with the other hints given above.)

Copyright 2023, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy