Comics & Games: It’s Friday!
I’ve got something special for you today: my all-time favorite Calvin and Hobbes homage, Hobbes and Bacon, by Dan and Tom Heyerman, plus a short interview with Tom.
In 2009, Dan and Tom created the webcomic Pants are Overrated. For two and a half years Dan wrote and and Tom illustrated the series. Late in the run, they did the four-strip Hobbes and Bacon series. Tom wrote the first two strips and illustrated all four, while Dan wrote the final two strips.
The Hobbes and Bacon strips are mixed into the Pants are Overrated archive, making them a bit hard to find and read in order. So, for the sake of Bill Watterson aficionados everywhere, and as an introduction to the work of these talented brothers, I am proud to re-present the entirety of Hobbes and Bacon:
Interview with Tom Heyerman
You and Dan put out Pants are Overrated for about 2 1/2 years: what was that like, and what did each of you do?
We had wanted to do a collaborative webcomic for quite a while before Pants came about, and Dan had written a couple of strips as a starting point, one of which was the first strip, in which Dan removes his pants, thinking he’s home alone, the name Pants are Overrated came from that first strip, as we didn’t have a name for it yet.
Dan was responsible for pretty much all of the writing and story ideas that we did, and I illustrated and created most of the art and assets for the site and anything else we needed.
Drawing the strip took a lot of time, which ended up being a primary reason why we decided to stop it, but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on any project, and seeing this thing we created grow and evolve, and seeing people get excited and talk about it was really exciting and a real dream come true, it was pretty awesome.
What motivated you to create Hobbes and Bacon?
I had actually started drawing a Calvin & Hobbes tribute comic separately from Pants, I just had this idea of Calvin growing up and having a kid, and I had seen images like this, and thought it would be a really cool idea to delve into.
Dan saw the comic I was drawing and liked the idea, so we turned it into a Pants comic.
Like most people who loved it, Calvin & Hobbes was such a huge part of my life growing up, and such a huge influence on myself as an artist and illustrator, coming up with idea of Hobbes & Bacon was really just a way for me to try and give something back to a comic and an artist that had given me so much, and contributed so heavily to my creative development.
Was the first Hobbes and Bacon intended to be one-off, or was it always the plan to do a series of strips?
I had really only planned to do the first two, and I just thought it would be a little tribute comic that no one would ever see.
Then it exploded into this “thing” that people talked about and posted on reddit, and suddenly, instead of just a low-profile tribute comic, we had created a phenomenon that people were talking about and excited about.
So, as we were talking about ending Pants as a whole, we decided that we would end on a high note, and create two more, which Dan came up with, and I illustrated, and I’m very glad we did, I hear a lot of people say that last strip is their favorite.
One of the things that really distinguishes this from other homages to Calvin and Hobbes is that the action isn’t centered on Calvin but on an original character you created: his daughter, Bacon. How did you come up with her?
Two things of interesting coincidence came together to create Calvin’s daughter, Bacon.
The first was my now 15 year old niece, Alison, who, for some reason or another, has the nickname, Bacon, and has had since long before Pants started.
The second was the idea to continue Watterson’s trend of naming the characters after old philosophers, John Calvin & Thomas Hobbes, so I thought, Francis Bacon.
Now, I never thought about her name as it pertained to real life, or any apprehension one might have to naming their child after a breakfast meat, in my head she was just named Bacon, but a lot of people speculated that her name was probably actually Frances, and, like my niece, had Bacon as a nickname – which I think is a good idea, and one that was thought of entirely by readers.
Also, Susie probably would have been far too rational to allow her daughter to actually be named Bacon.
In Bill Waterson’s strip, the adults are all sticks-in-the-mud, but the family dynamic in Hobbes and Bacon is warmer and sillier. What, if anything, were you trying to say about growing up and parenting?
While we were creating the strips, I didn’t really think too much about the differences between Calvin as an adult and his parents when he was a kid, but I think that it ended up being an interesting look at the way we see our parents as children, I think that while Calvin’s parents were more serious than he was, Bacon still has a similar view of him and Susie, and still finds them mysterious, and weird.
The art here is strikingly similar to Waterson’s style: was it a difficult style to imitate, and was any special preparation required?
It was a fun artistic exercise to try and emulate Watterson’s art style, but I’ve doodled Calvin & Hobbes characters on the margins of my paper for my entire life, and I think it was just a natural extension of that. Trying to emulate his watercolor style, and the very bold and graphic use of his pen strokes was definitely challenging, and it doesn’t even come close to his level, but it was incredibly fun
What are you working on now? Any special projects in the works?
Dan has just released a trailer for a sketch show that he will be doing on YouTube called “Hashtag Funny”, which you can check out here (probably NSFW).
And I may have a super secret project that I’m working on right now, but I can’t talk about it yet 😉