Calvin and Hobbes is a syndicated daily comic strip that was written and illustrated by American cartoonist Bill Watterson, and syndicated from November 18, 1985, to December 31, 1995. It follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. The pair are named after John Calvin, a 16th-century French Reformation theologian, and Thomas Hobbes, a 17th-century English political philosopher. At the height of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide.
Calvin and Hobbes is set in the contemporary United States in an unspecified suburban area. The strip depicts Calvin's flights of fantasy and his friendship with Hobbes, and also examines Calvin's relationships with family and classmates. Hobbes' dual nature is a defining motif for the strip: to Calvin, Hobbes is a live anthropomorphic tiger; all the other characters see him 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, and the flaws of opinion polls.
With rare exceptions, such as Calvin once stating his desire to grow a beard like the members of ZZ Top, the strip avoids reference to actual people or events. In another case, a strip from April 1988 in which Calvin refers to his dad as the "Gene Siskel of Saturday morning TV" after he loudly expresses his resentment of the banality and morality of the animated cartoon Calvin's watching. Watterson lampoons public decadence and apathy, commercialism, and the pandering nature of the mass media.
In one instance, Calvin tells Hobbes about a science-fiction story he has read in which machines turn humans into zombie slaves. Hobbes comments about the irony of machines controlling people instead of the other way around; Calvin then exclaims, "I'll say. Hey! What time is it?? My TV show is on!" and sprints back inside to watch it. Another strip depicts Calvin's science-fiction story about an extraterrestrial spaceship sucking up Earth's oceans and air. To the cries of the suffocating victims, the aliens reply that this is preferable to the loss of their jobs. Calvin is concerned that his story is too far-fetched, to which Hobbes responds, "Not enough, really."