If you chase profit, art takes a backseat

The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes has become a classic. This timeless comic strip debuted in November 1985 and came to an end in 1995.
Commonly cited as “the last great newspaper comic,” Calvin and Hobbes has evinced broad and enduring popularity, influence and academic interest. Calvin and Hobbes follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious, mischievous and adventurous six-year-old boy and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. The pair is named after John Calvin, a 16th century French theologian and Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century English political philosopher. Set in the contemporary, suburban America, the strip depicts Calvin’s frequent flights of fancy and his friendship with Hobbes.
It further examines Calvin’s relationships with family and classmates, especially the love/hate relationship between him and his classmate. Hobbes’ dual nature is a defining motif for the strip: to Calvin, Hobbes is a live anthropomorphic tiger; all the other characters see Hobbes as an inanimate stuffed toy. Though the series does not mention specific political figures or current events, it does explore broad issues like environmentalism, public education, philosophical quandaries, and the flaws of opinion polls
It remains meaningful and enjoyable whether you are 6 or 16 or 30. It is rare to meet someone who doesn’t like Calvin and Hobbes. And new generations keep discovering the imaginative world of a mischievous six-year-old and his stuffed tiger with joy.
Its reclusive creator Bill Watterson has never given into insistent demands of licensing the strip or its characters for merchandising or movies or video games or any other form. He explained his reasons in the introduction to the 1995 The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, writes Shubhra Dixit in Scroll.in on May 25, 2016.
Besides cheapening the original, he wrote, “The world of a comic strip ought to be a special place with its own logic and life, I don’t want some animation studio giving Hobbes an actor’s voice and I don’t want some greeting card company using Calvin to wish people a happy anniversary and I don’t want the issue of Hobbes’ reality settled by a doll manufacturer. When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished. Calvin and Hobbes was designed to be a comic strip and that’s all I want it to be. It’s the one place where everything works the way I intend it to.”
For several years after he stopped Calvin and Hobbes in 1995, the cartoonist did not produce anything. In June 2014, however, he created three strips for Stephen Pastis’s comic strip Pearls Before Swine, featuring a six-year-old girl named Libby. Youtuber Kristian Williams created a video essay Art before commerce, which holds that the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is timeless in its appeal, and special because “it didn’t give in to crass commercialisation.” The introduction to Calvin and Hobbes is always through the comic strips. “If you want Calvin and Hobbes you have to seek it out, it’s not going to be shoved down your throat.”
There’s a lesson here for the religious and spiritual. Religion and spirituality, which touch the most sacred space of human beings, deserve the dignity and honour of not being sold to the highest bidder. It is a pity if religious people have to sell their soul to propagate their religion. Religion too should never be “shoved down to your throat.”
(The writer is professor of science and religion and author of The Indian Ending)