- NAME: Bill Watterson
- OCCUPATION: Illustrator
- BIRTH DATE: July 05, 1958 (Age: 55)
- Did You Know?: Watterson first published "Calvin and Hobbes" when he was 27 and retired the strip when he was 37.
- Did You Know?: Watterson became the youngest cartoonist ever to receive the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award—the industry's highest honor—in 1986.
- EDUCATION: Kenyon College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Washington, D.C.
- Full Name: William Waterson
- ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer
Best Known For
Bill Watterson is best known for his comic strip creation "Calvin and Hobbes," about a boy and his imaginary friend.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Bill Watterson was born on July 5, 1958, in Washington, D.C. While attending Kenyon College, Watterson drew cartoons for the college paper, leading to a position at the Cincinnati Post. Watterson wanted to draw comic strips and began trying to syndicate his original creation, "Calvin and Hobbes," a cartoon about a rambunctious boy and his imaginary friend that went on to garner wide fame.
"If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now 'grieving' for 'Calvin and Hobbes' would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them."
"To endure five years of rejection to get a job requires either a faith in oneself that borders on delusion, or a love of the work. I loved the work."
"It's always better to leave the party early."
"A real job is a job you hate."
Bill Watterson was born on July 5, 1958, in Washington, D.C. When he was 6 years old, Bill Watterson moved with his father James, a patent attorney, and his mother, Kathryn, to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. After the family settled in, Kathryn soon won a seat on the city council. James Watterson would also serve on the Chagrin Falls city council, but not until some 30 years later.
As a child, Bill Watterson—unlike his creation Calvin—"never had imaginary animal friends," he later remembered. "I generally stayed out of trouble, I did fairly well in school." He developed an early interest in drawing, and was inspired by classic cartoonists like "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz and "Pogo" illustrator Walt Kelly.
In 1976, Watterson enrolled at Ohio's Kenyon College, where he spent four years drawing political cartoons for the Collegian campus newspaper (and a few weeks during his sophomore year painting a copy of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" on his dorm room ceiling). Following his 1980 graduation, Watterson was immediately offered a job as an editorial cartoonist at the Cincinnati Post.
His editors were unimpressed with his work, however, and less than a year later Watterson found himself unemployed and living back home with his parents. He decided to abandon political cartoons (he was not particularly interested in politics anyway) and return to his first love: comic strips.
The next few years proved mostly discouraging. Watterson sent his strips to countless newspapers and received nothing but rejection slips. For a time, he took an unhappy job designing advertisements for car dealerships and grocery stores. This period in his life was important, he later said, because it proved to him that the substance of his work mattered more than money. "To endure five years of rejection to get a job requires either a faith in oneself that borders on delusion, or a love of the work," he told the 1990 graduates of his alma mater in a commencement speech. "I loved the work."
After experimenting with several different characters, Watterson developed a strip called "Calvin and Hobbes." It starred Calvin, a rambunctious first-grader who sounded "like a 6-year-old psychotic on Ritalin one day and a Yale lit grad the next," as one journalist put it, and Hobbes, a stuffed tiger who came to life only when alone with Calvin. Universal Press Syndicate bought the strip in 1985, giving Watterson, then just 27 years old, a national audience.
Readers loved "Calvin and Hobbes"—Calvin's flights of wild imagination, often undertaken while clad in rocket-ship underpants; Hobbes's wry observations; and the sensitive, wise, literary voice of the strip itself (the main characters were named after philosophers John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes). In 1986, Watterson became the youngest cartoonist ever to receive the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award—the industry's highest honor.
profile name: Bill Watterson profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Explore our collection of famous recluses, including Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Bettie Page, Bobby Fischer, Lauryn Hill, Doris Day, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Brian Wilson, Dave Chappelle and J.D. Salinger. See our picks, along with full biographies, photo galleries and videos, only on Biography.com.
Famous Recluses 20 people in this group
Famous Cancerians 585 people in this group
Famous Illustrators 46 people in this group