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Tatulli’s Lio is compared to Calvin and Hobbes

Over at The Comics Journal Kristian Williams examines Mark Tatulli’s Lio collection There’s Corpses Everywhere: Yet Another Lio Collection and compares, contrasts and analyzes it against Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes collection “There’s Treasure Everywhere“.

The comparison is not in Lio’s favor. Such are the hazards of parody, or even homage. Either way, the work announces: “this ought to be read in light of that.” It doesn’t just invite a comparison, it initiates it. It places itself in (if also against) a tradition; it claims a lineage. And so it sets itself something of a standard.

Harold Bloom suggested that the relationship of the new author to his canonical predecessors is essentially Oedipal: The young genius wants to bump off and replace the old masters, at least at the level of subconscious metaphor. But he cannot admit this desire, even (or especially) to himself. That’s why all poets are insane: it’s the anxiety of influence that does it.

As a kind of thought experiment, one can readily apply Bloom’s theory to the cover of Corpses. Tatulli has killed Calvin, and replaced him with his own creation, Lio.

Or Mark thought the cover (and author photo) would be funny.

Community Comments

#1 Mark_Tatulli
December/7/2011
@ 10:33 am

Deep anaylsis sucks the fun out of everything.

Kristian Williams and R.C. Harvey should be bowling partners.

#2 Chris Hart
December/7/2011
@ 12:20 pm

I never thought you were comparing yourself to Calvin and Hobbes, Mark. It was just a funny parody.

#3 rodd perry
December/7/2011
@ 1:27 pm

that’s not the story I intended to read…

here are some headlines I’d like to see in the future:

CARTOONIST LIVES IN SAME TOWN AS PULITZER PRIZE WINNER

COMIC BOOK PRINTED ON SAME PAPER AS BIBLE

TRUDEAU AND GAMMILL: BOTH ON TWITTER

#4 Rick Kirkman
December/7/2011
@ 1:55 pm

What a load of crap that article was.

None of us are that deep. or can really afford to be, with our deadlines (especially Mark’s). In that light, the article is hilarious in its ridiculously self-important tone.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, although I don’t remember who said it:

“He, who seeks the metaphysical cause of laughter, cracks no smile.”

#5 Rick Kirkman
December/7/2011
@ 1:56 pm

I mean none of us IS that deep. Go away, grammar cops.

#6 Mark_Tatulli
December/7/2011
@ 1:59 pm

“…The young genius wants to bump off and replace the old masters, at least at the level of subconscious metaphor. But he cannot admit this desire, even (or especially) to himself. That?s why all poets are insane…”

I think that statement more appropriately may describe the man who first drew Calvin pissing on a Ford logo.

As for my own personal insanity, I think it has much more to do with my neighbor’s constant leaf burning.

#7 Stephan Pastis
December/7/2011
@ 2:29 pm

To write for the Comics Journal, do you have to be boring and pompous?

#8 Mike Lester
December/7/2011
@ 3:38 pm

I knew Herman Melville. Tatulli, you are no Herman Melville.

#9 Scott Metzger
December/7/2011
@ 5:20 pm

?Such are the hazards of parody, or even homage. Either way, the work announces: ?this ought to be read in light of that.? It doesn?t just invite a comparison, it initiates it. It places itself in (if also against) a tradition; it claims a lineage. And so it sets itself something of a standard.?

—-

Yeah, whenever I hear ?Beat It? by ?Weird Al? Yankovic, I immediately think he?s claiming a lineage to Michael Jackson. And boy, does he pale in comparison to the King of Pop!

Parody is not making people laugh or having fun. It?s about claiming a lineage. We all must remember that.

#10 Scott Metzger
December/7/2011
@ 5:22 pm

Okay, it’s “Eat It.” Go away, pop culture cops.

#11 Joe Engesser
December/7/2011
@ 5:49 pm

And furthermore…ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…

#12 Mike Rhode
December/7/2011
@ 5:53 pm

That review is over a year old.

#13 Alan Gardner
December/7/2011
@ 9:43 pm

@Rhode – You’re right! It is year old. I was emailed on Monday alerting me to it. I assumed it was recent.

Still a snore a year later.

#14 Doug Bratton
December/8/2011
@ 7:22 am

Let’s not be too critical about this piece. After all, it’s never easy to recycle a paper you wrote for an English class during your Freshman year in college into a genuine Comics Journal article!

#15 Stephen Beals
December/8/2011
@ 10:26 am

Why did I skim that article? It made my eyes bleed.

#16 Mike Peterson
December/8/2011
@ 6:03 pm

Harold Bloom suggested that the relationship of the new author to his canonical predecessors is essentially Oedipal. And Leopold Bloom enjoyed watching young girls at the beach in a way that was essentially incestuous.

And then there was the tragic case of Sheilah Graham, who got one helluva surprise in the middle of Elliott Gould’s oral exam:
http://youtu.be/gB2jVKZVeE4

#17 Tom Racine
December/8/2011
@ 6:31 pm

A serious critical look at humor is all well and good, and certainly, Mark’s work is among the best out there in the history of the art form…but anyone pulling out terms like “oedipal complex” when talking about a cartoonist who thought it’d be funny to recreate a picture of Watterson, obviously doesn’t know much about the subject they’re writing about. It’s like the “Daily Show.” Sure…there’s real news and points being made, but their number one and only priority is bringing the funny. Mark brings the funny. I doubt he’s got a lot of Greek Tragedy on his mind when writing.

#18 Tom Racine
December/8/2011
@ 6:34 pm

And by the way, I’ve always felt bad for Oedipus. He doesn’t know that was his father he killed, nor that it’s his mother he’s sleeping with. When he finds out, he gouges his own eyes out. Doesn’t sound like he really planned that whole scenario.

#19 Mike Peterson
December/9/2011
@ 3:47 am

Yeah, Tom, I thought it was a tragedy.

Which, fortunately, was good for partial credit.

#20 Brian Fies
December/9/2011
@ 2:25 pm

Wait. If Mark wants to kill Bill Watterson, what’s he want to do to Lynn Johnston?

#21 Rich Diesslin
December/10/2011
@ 2:34 pm

I always think of the scene in Annie Hall where they in line for a movie with a literary critic spouting his deep wisdom and then Woody Allen pulls out the actual author who cuts totally discredits all his pompous conjecture.

To Mark’s comment in #1 about analysis sucking the life out of it, I went to a seminar where two college professors were analyzing humor … it may have been the most boring thing, with the greatest errors in logic (and humor), I’ve heard. However, it was a fiendishly clever way for 2 college professors to make a living while meeting some of their comedy celebrities. So, I can’t say it wasn’t working for them, but very clear they could probably never write or even tell a joke.

I think that’s why I don’t even like (or read) editorial cartoonists explaining their own cartoons on their blogs, etc … just a buzz kill.

For the record Mark – I enjoy your cartoon and I never even thought of comparing to Calvin and Hobbes. Keep up the great work!

#22 Jonathan Gies
December/10/2011
@ 2:55 pm

@ Rich:
When Walt Disney was underwriting the art education of his staff during the 1930s, one short-lived idea was a complete bust, and that was hiring some professor to teach a course on humor. Animator Shamus Culhane described these weekly torture sessions in his autobiography as a mess of quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo communicated in strained, broken English. X)

#23 John Cole
December/10/2011
@ 10:40 pm

?Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.? — E.B. White

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