Teefury’s Poetic Calvin & Hobbes Slight

I wrote earlier this year about Teefury and Threadless’ business model that relies largely on copyright infringement. I knew I was shouting into the wind; the internet loves things mashed together, and they also love nostalgia. If Girl Talk wanted to make a new album that just contained samples from NES and Sega Genesis games, it would make ten million dollars (if the internet didn’t make it easy to download it for free. The very people who would cause your success would also steal from you, Girl Talk!)

Several of the writers for Nonstop Karate wear Teefury. I have a dozen Threadless shirts that fit in the “cutsey/strange art” category myself. Let us talk about yesterday’s Teefury submission, because it might offend you if knew a thing about Bill Watterson and merchandise.

Don’t know who Bill Watterson is? Then you’re probably not offended. Watterson, (the creator of beloved strip Calvin & Hobbes) not only hid away into obscurity as C&H was popular, he was strongly against any merchandise of his characters.

That’s why I don’t hire assistants, why I write and draw every line myself, why I draw and paint special art for each of my books, and why I refuse to dilute or corrupt the strip’s message with merchandising. I want to draw cartoons, not supervise a factory.

– Bill Watterson, 1989

There’s a solid argument that once an artist has created something, it goes beyond their control. That sharing art with the world is not just about the creator. But let’s not wax poetic too much over a shirt that’s just saying “Hey, you remember this?”.

Those truck window sticks of Calvin pissing on something? That’s got nothing to do with Calvin & Hobbes. I don’t even see the same kid when I see that little brat urinating. It’s not Calvin’s M.O. Urine is too low brow for a kid with that much imagination.

I like this more if it's genuine.

Copyright is always going to be a mess. There will always be some punk selling mugs on CafePress that lazily have quotes from Portal 2 on them, but this shirt says, “I am a fan of Calvin & Hobbes but don’t know or care about Watterson’s thoughts”. Perhaps Watterson would enjoy this shirt, happy that people are again experiencing part of his work. Or perhaps he’s glad he called it quits when he did.


About Chad Quandt

Writer for videogames, animation, the webcomic Suffrage. Master blocker in dodgeball. Barbecued with Corey Haim before he died.

Posted on June 28, 2011, in Chad Quandt, Comics, Pop Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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