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Break out the credit card: Rare Sunday Calvin & Hobbes goes to auction

An original 1986 Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip going to auction Click image above for larger view

A rare 1986 Sunday Calvin & Hobbes original is going to auction. The piece is owned by Adam@Home and Red and Rover creator Brian Basset who tells me that a financial pinch related to an earlier divorce and upcoming wedding has prompted him to put the piece on the auction block.

The hand-colored strip was given to Brian by Bill Watterson himself in 1986 after the two agreed to swap originals while sharing a dinner together during the Ohio Sate University Festival of Cartoon Art.

Regarding the decision to put it the original art up for auction:

Parting with the Watterson original was not an easy decision, but I believe it is the right decision. I am so thankful of Bill Watterson’s generosity and the opportunity his talent has given me more than a quarter of a century later. It is now time for someone else to enjoy owning this piece of Americana.

Opening bids start October 27 and with the auction happening November 15–16. Back in February a Watterson original water color piece for a calendar was auctioned off for $107,550 and just this last summer, an original Watterson oil painting of Cul de Sac character Petey Otterloop sold for over $13,000.

Here’s Heritage Auction?s description:

We don’t have to tell you how incredibly rare this amazing masterwork is! It is, in fact, the very first Calvin and Hobbes comic strip original ever to be offered at public auction! It’s a well known fact that artist Bill Watterson has carefully held onto his original artwork, despite many generous offers to part with a strip. We’re not kidding when we say we would have been ecstatic to have uncovered a daily example of this medium-defining comic strip to offer, but to have a beautifully hand-colored (by the artist himself) Sunday is pretty much beyond belief! It was presented by Watterson as a gift to fellow cartoonist Brian Basset, creator of the popular strips Adam@Home and Red and Rover, who cherished it for many years in his personal collection.

The art is in artist marker pens and watercolor on thin bristol board, with an image area of approximately 13“ x 9”, matted to an overall 18“ x 15”. Some of the black lines (in particular, the lettering) had very slightly faded, and there is clear plastic tape applied by Universal Press when adding positioning marks and the syndicate credit, but these hardly detract from the subtle beauty of the line art and coloring – not to mention the playful dialog between Calvin and his faithful imaginary companion, Hobbes. We love the mention of the “drive-in classic” film, “The Blob” in the final panel. And Watterson has added a personalized inscription to his friends, Brian and Linda Basset, with a funny reference to the strip’s gag line.

It probably doesn’t need to be stated that there is not a lot of Calvin & Hobbes in the wild. I had an opportunity to hold (white gloves, mind you) a couple of Sunday originals when I visited the OSU Cartoon Research Library back in 2006 (or 2007). Everything on the bristol board was hand drawn – right down to the title. Nothing was taped, or photo copied in. Watterson treated each piece as art.

Community Comments

#1 Naus
September/23/2012
@ 3:04 pm

an actual hand drawn comic! how long will it take before that is a thing of the past? I still draw mine, yet I color on the computer.

#2 Fran Deppen
September/26/2012
@ 3:26 pm

It’s noted that the strip was made with artist marker pens and water color. Didn’t Mr. Watterson use brush and ink for his wonderful line work?

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