Each year the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême is awarded to a living creator honoring his/her lifetime achievement, and the Grand Prix winner becomes president of the next year’s festival. Last year the winner was the legendary Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes.
That’s Ivan on the right, Master of PR & Events at comiXology.
A walk around the room gives an overview of Watterson’s influences, before breaking down Calvin & Hobbes into its basic elements, focusing on things like the importance of various seasons to the characters in the strip and the emphasis on C&H’s naive yet poignant philosophical discussions.
There was a glass case displaying some of Watterson’s tools, which at first glance looked kind of boring to someone who is not a creator themselves, but upon closer inspection each object had a description matching the wit that made Calvin & Hobbes so famous.
With so much of Angoulême being unfamiliar to me, it was comforting to see such a nice display of admiration for a work very close to my heart.
Bill Watterson, the reclusive creator of Calvin and Hobbes, briefly returned to comics last week when he ghostwrote parts of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine. In those strips, Pastis is replaced by a precocious second grader named Libby, who draws exuberant scenes of Martian invasions and hungry crocodiles, in contrast with Pastis’ more understated style.
In a weekend post on his website, Pastis revealed that “Libby” was really Watterson and remarked that working with Watterson was like catching “a glimpse of Bigfoot.” Pastis added: “By the end of the process, I was left with the distinct impression that he works in a log cabin lit by whale oil and hands his finished artwork to a man on a pony.”
Two weeks after Dave Grohl broke his leg falling offstage this summer, Florence + the Machine filled in for him at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival. Emailing beforehand, “I just said, ‘If you’ve got a broken bone, you have to eat lots of broccoli because there’s iron in it,’ ” says frontwomanFlorence Welch. “I was really nervous about Glastonbury and he said whenever he’s nervous, he watches Queen performing at Live Aid and that sorts him out. So that’s what I watched, too.”
Of course, Welch, 29, knows a few things about nursing injuries. The British siren fractured her foot in a freewheeling stage dive at Coachella in April, but was up and prancing across the Governors Ball stage in New York less than two months later, mere days after her How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album release. As she revs up a three-week North American tour that kicks off Friday in Nashville, the pesky appendage is the least of her concerns.
“It feels fine now,” Welch says brightly. “It gives me a little trouble, occasionally, but I almost don’t remember that it happened. Sometimes, I’m like, 'Wow, I broke a bone. That was a whole thing.’ ”
In fact, she’s glad it happened. Leading up to Beautiful’s launch in June, she performed a handful of gigs to intimate crowds in Los Angeles and New York (including Saturday Night Live). Sitting on a stool, she was backed by stripped-down arrangements which only underscored her powerful lilt.“That was kind of amazing,” Welch says. “It gave me a chance to go back to how it was when I first started performing, which was literally more of a singer/songwriter telling stories and talking about songs. I didn’t realize how much I was using my physicality as almost another distraction and it was really interesting to have to be vulnerable in that way again.”
The injury became a metaphor of sorts for her new music — the product of a near-breakdown fueled by relationship problems, heavy drinking (“I used to drink before every performance. … But I don’t anymore,” she told Billboard in May) and nearly four years of non-stop touring in support of albums Lungs (2009) andCeremonials (2011). Taking a year off from the road to record Beautiful, she channeled those frustrations into searing anthems such as Ship to Wreck and What Kind of Man and now feels rejuvenated heading back out.
“Having that year where I really had to face myself, I found a new approach to (touring), which is less extreme,” Welch says. “Having been so broken down by it, as it were, the album itself kind of got me back up again, and I had to deal with a lot of things in my life. It’s a work in progress, but I’m managing to still do that while touring, which is really good.”
On this 11-city trek, Welch and her band will headline Austin City Limits festival Sunday and play two dates (Oct. 16 and 17) at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl (which partly inspired Beautiful’s title track). They’ll also play New Orleans’ Voodoo Music + Arts Experience over Halloween weekend, which happens to coincide with keyboardistIsabella Summers’ (aka “the Machine’s”) Oct. 31 birthday.
Although they haven’t come up with Halloween costumes yet, it will be tough to top last year’s. “We were Calvin and Hobbes,” Welch laughs. “Because I’m tall and orange, and she’s small and blond.”
They’re all getting so big! Especially Hobbes. She’s just gotten HUGE lately! I need to get some weigh ins done soon! Last time Calvin and Hobbes were around 65g, and I think Bear was around 10g. I’m guessing Hobbes is pushing 80g, Calvin probably 75g, and bear is probably 8g. How many grams do you guess they are?