There’s little arguing when it comes to the position of Calvin and Hobbes in the annals of entertainment history; that is, right at the top. The revered comic strip is still fawned over by fans, even though there hasn’t been any new content since December, 1995. While search engines aren’t necessarily the go-to metric when it comes to discussing viral popularity anymore, a simple search for “Calvin and Hobbes Tumblr” returns over 1 million results. That, alone, should provide some insight into just how much people love the rascally blonde-headed kid and his brilliant tiger sidekick.
Naturally, such fanhood has been facilitated by the Internet and all of the fan club-enabling features it contains. The latest involves the animation of the duo’s famous dance moves, which appeared regularly in Bill Watterson’s works. The animated work was done by Adam Brown, he of Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans fame. To create the animated short, Brown actually used Watterson’s drawings as his source. Brown also gives the appropriate credit where it is due.
While some might yell infringement, Brown makes sure to address this by stating he is not collecting pageview money for his creation, which leads this post. He continues by saying:
It is my belief that Bill Watterson is open to fan fic and remakes of his works as long as there’s no profit from it. He recently said in an interview, “Every artist learns through imitation, but I rather doubt the aim of these things is artistic development. I assume they’re either homages or satiric riffs, and are not intended to be taken too seriously as works in their own right. Otherwise I should be talking to a copyright lawyer.”
This is meant as an homage, but it’s also about the artistic development of animation… I don’t think it detracts from the original to see them in motion.
While the copyright of Calvin and Hobbes belongs to Bill Watterson and Andrews McMeel Universal, I believe this is fair use based on the following:
-There’s no profit, advertising or otherwise.
-The use is transformative, not just derivative.
-The characters from the comic are redrawn, not copied. One of Watterson’s paintings was modified for the background.
Based on Watterson’s statements referenced by Brown, would you agree with his disposition? Would Watterson? As an aside, if you didn’t see the interview in question, Mental Floss is your starting point. Considering how YouTube is functions on a “quick to pull the offending video” basis, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Brown’s video comes down soon.