Thursday, October 13, 2016

Neros's Quest To Seek Out The Truth About a Picture of Bill Watterson from the 1980s

This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. And I know it's completely out of character with the rest of my posts, but it made me happy. DON'T JUDGE ME, ALRIGHT?! Even if you don't follow along with my crazy talking structure, I hope you'll get a kick out of it. Enjoy.

Disclaimer
*By the way, this is not the real post. This is just something I decided to do today. The post should be out by Saturday...?? question mark? Again, sorry it's so late.


So, a thing y'all might not know about me is that I maaaaay have a sliiight obsession with Calvin and Hobbes.

Okay, it's kind of a full blown addiction.

I don't know what fascinates me so much, maybe it's the hidden details all throughout the strip, or the amazingly intricate brushstrokes and panels that make this strip what it is.

It's just so good!

If you've never read Calvin and Hobbes before, I STRONGLY suggest you walk down to your nearest library, pick up one of the book collections, check it out, and start reading.

Or if you're lazy like me, GoComics has a full collection of all the strips, including the color Sunday ones. So you can head on over to there by clicking here.

So now that you're all caught up, let me tell you some quick facts about it. It started in November 1985 and, after 10 short years- ended in December 1995. Its creator is Bill Watterson, who went to Kenyon College (which will make sense a little later!)

Now, Bill is a bit of a secretive person. He doesn't make very many public appearances, and in fact there are only 4 pictures of him out there.

One of them was found illegally, so I don't know if I'm allowed to show it here..

But this is the most famous one. It was taken on February 26th, 1986 and was used for when Calvin and Hobbes was transferred to Bill's hometown newspaper for the first time since the strip had started 4 months before.
This is also the strip that will show up when you Google his name. But if you do a bit more digging, you can find some other pictures of him too! For example, here's a picture of him in the great outdoors from the summer of 1987.
And here is the illegal picture. It's from his college yearbook in 1980. Admittedly, I just found this today.
The police might come kick down my door for showing that, so if I don't post for at least 3 months after this, just know that I'm in jail. Anyway! All of this has a point! You may be wondering, "But Neros! Why are these all black and white and from the '80s? Don't you have a color picture from more recently?" (You're probably also wondering "Dang, he is really into the John Lennon glasses and '80s mustache, huh?) And the answer to those questions is yes and no! There is exactly one color picture of Bill Watterson! And here it is:
Now by this point, you're probably thinking "Does this man wear anything but sweaters?" And yes, I have wondered that too. His fashion style is a little odd. But that's okay! Because the above picture was published in February 1989, but no one knows when it was taken. And no one has tried to figure it out. UNTIL NOW! (This has bothered me all day, let me have my moment.) Now, since we know what Bill looked like in the beginning and end of the 1980s, you could guess that this picture was taken at any point during the '80s, which no real way to further it down. But that is FALSE, my young snail! Because all of these pictures, minus the college one, are promotional photos for Calvin and Hobbes. And remember what I said before?
Yes, that's right! Calvin and Hobbes started on November 18th, 1985. And if C&H didn't start until 1985, and our mystery photo was published in 1989, that means that the picture was taken between 1985 and 1989. So there we go! We've cut the decade in half already! But then it gets harder to pinpoint the exact year. However, I have some inside information about him. Remember when I said that Bill Watterson graduated from Kenyon College? Well, so did my aunt. And my mom went to her graduation in 1991. And guess who gave the commemorative speech for the class of 1991 at Kenyon College? None other than Bill Watterson himself.
So yeah, I'm kinda really jealous of my mom because of that. But anyway, you're probably asking "What does this mean?" Well, I shall tell you my young snail! When my mom saw Bill Watterson, she described him as "a lot like that, but grayer." By "that", she was referring to the picture right above these words. This one:
And keep in mind that Bill Watterson was 32 when my mom saw him. That's not usually a normal time to go gray, but everybody's different. Plus, he had had a huge struggle with his syndicate over marketing and licensing that lasted for years. So that's probably the reason he started graying earlier. But anyway! Why am I bringing up his hair? Well, you shall see! So the next thing I want you to do is look at Bill Watterson's hair from the first three pictures that I've shown you, in order of date.
And now look at the hair of our mystery picture.
Now, do you notice anything different there? I sure do. It's kind of hard to see, but the hair of the mystery picture looks very gray to me. At least a lot grayer than the other pictures. And do you know what that means? Well, it means that our mystery picture was taken AFTER the first two pictures (excluding the college one), because he had started to gray in our mystery picture and he hadn't in the first two pictures (again excluding the college one). And those pictures were taken in February 1986 and May 1987, so that means we can cross off the 1985, 1986, and the first half of 1987 off of our list of suspect years.

Suspect years
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1987 (first half)
  • 1987 (second half)
  • 1988
  • 1989
So that leaves us with two and a half years left. "But how on earth could you determine the year from now, Neros?" I hear you asking. Well, never fear! I have a couple more clues that will seal the deal on this one. Clue #1!
If you zoom in really close to the background of the mystery picture, you can notice a window. "But what is in the reflection of that window?" you may wonder. Well, never fear! Captain Detective is here to solve the case! Drum roll please...
...
...
And the thing in the reflection of the window is....
...
...
(pause for dramatic effect)
...
...
Trees. The thing in the window is trees. And the French flag, which plays a very important role actually! More on that later. But right now you're thinking "But Neros, what do trees have to do with anything?" And my answer to you, my young snail, is that it's not the trees that matter, it's the color of them. See anything special about the color of these trees?
Yup, they have in fact started to turn. And the leaves on the above tree have started to fall off. Which means, if you live in the Midwest like me, it is FALL. (You may not know what that is if you live in California and it's summer all the time. I can't imagine a world where that happens. *shudder*) But for us Midwesterners (like Bill, who lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio), fall comes in September, October, and November. Although in early September, it's still kinda summer. Based on where these trees are in their molting stage (is that the word you use for trees? I know you use it for animals like penguins, but what about trees? Huh.), it is not September. Even by the very end of September, trees still have most of their leaves. They are not completely stripped of their leaves like one of the trees in this picture. Trees are like that in November. However, since there is another tree full of leaves right next to it, it makes me think that it is not November, leaving our last month, October.

Now, besides being the current month, October is a bit of a weird month when it comes to trees. Seriously, I was just noticing this on my walk home from school-  some trees have lost almost all their leaves, some are just starting to change color. Sound like two trees you know?
So I'm guessing this picture was taken in late October. It would make sense that he's wearing a sweater, because it gets chilly in the fall. Or maybe the guy just has a thing for sweaters going on; he was wearing one in the summer, too, so I don't really know what's going on with that. Maybe he just really likes sweaters! As for the year, well, we can cross off another suspect year. This picture was originally published in February 1989. So it couldn't have been taken in October 1989. So we can cross 1989 off our list of suspect years!

Suspect years
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1987 (first half)
  • 1987 (second half)
  • 1988
  • 1989
Now that leaves October 1987 and October 1988. Now, these are very close years. Everyone was rockin' that late '80s groove and it didn't really matter what year it was. Even the Garfield strips looked the same:
August 1987 Garfield comic
September 1988 Garfield comic
See? You can't even tell the difference. Jon is even wearing the same pajamas, for Pete's sake! (Who is Pete? I've always wondered that.) But this is not about Garfield, it's about Calvin and Hobbes. Or, more specifically, Bill Watterson! As you all know by now. I need to get back on task! So the difference between 1987 and 1988. Well. It's a very small thing, and I don't think any of you have noticed it. Except that one time when I mentioned it a couple paragraphs ago. Remember this?
It's the French flag! "But what is it doing on a window behind Bill Watterson in 1987 or 1988?" you ask. Well, I'll explain it to you. Ready for this? Here we go.

The French have their election every couple of years. But this particular election in the late '80s was kind of a special one. In fact, people in lots of other countries opposed or supported the election by... get this.... HANGING FRENCH FLAGS AROUND HOUSES AND BUILDINGS. This movement was called "La France unie", or "France united". And do you know which election this happened, my young snail?

Drum roll please...
...
...
(pause for even more dramatic effect)
...
...
...
THE FRENCH ELECTION OF 1988! We have our winner! Our mystery picture was officially taken in late October of 1988!
So give yourselves a hand! Actually no. Give me a hand, because you didn't do any work. In fact, give me your hand! Yeah, that's right, cut off your hand and give it to me.
That got very weird very fast. But anyway, we did it! I singlehandedly (or maybe you're the one that's singlehanded because you gave the other hand to me BWAHAHA i need to stop) took all of the evidence that was laid out for me and answered a decades-old question that no one has answered until now. Actually, it's not that big of a question, so I can see why they didn't spend the time to answer it. But it was fun, gosh diggity darn it! And I enjoyed looking through that evidence and finding the answer! So I want to know- did you enjoy this post? Or was it kinda boring and kinda weird and I probably shouldn't do this again. Or did you feel it was somewhere in the middle? Comment please, I want to know your opinions on this because I might tackle another comic mystery! You know, you don't have to have an account to leave a comment. You can choose "Anonymous" on the comment form. It makes it pretty easy! Anyway, there's no Meme of the Day today, because I ran out of memes. I shall have to go searching for more. So I'll leave you here. See ya next time!
~

5 comments:

  1. That looked like a LOT of work. I can't even text my friends anything longer than 2 words.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. Yes! I liked this post. You must have done quite some research to find all this out. This is all pretty cool. I say yes to more comic mysteries!

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow nice job sherlock? is that you? -catdog347

    ReplyDelete
  4. everything is right exspet one thing it is not summer all the time in california... theres a big old thunder storm where i live right now..

    ReplyDelete

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