Calvin and Hobbes: satirising work, leisure, imagination and agency within the context of the pervasive forces of capitalism
Bill Watterson’s comic Calvin and Hobbes problematises the complex feature of life called work for its sociological repercussions on human life. The preoccupation with work owing to the charm of capitalist excess entails a major transformation of lifestyle – of work as well as leisure – with a ‘work minded’ parallelism as will be discussed in this paper. In the comic’s satire, it is within the contexts of subsistence, class position, technology, and other forces germane to contemporary market capitalism, that this work mindedness imperils the status of leisure and work. With its comical illustrations, Watterson brings into sharp focus the everyday play of the cultural economy. This paper further argues that the narrative universe constructed in Calvin and Hobbes explores the significance of agency and imagination, to struggle in turn for ‘leisure mindedness’ at all times, even at work, something which remains pertinent even 25 years after the last comic strip bid us goodbye. This paper frames that leisure mindedness, in relation to both social theory and the critical discourse of the comic, highlighting here the magic of the social world, friendships as well as sensory experiences, while positing philosophical questions about the importance of creativity and aesthetic freedom over work.