Advice From the Creator of Calvin and Hobbes (Comic by Zen Pencils)

  • Martijn Schirp (112,780)A October 8, 2015
    • Julia (4) October 13, 2015

      Better to go straight to the source, and buy Gavin’s book or a poster, to keep this wonderful stuff coming.

    • Bill (0) October 13, 2015

      I need this print for my wall!!

  • Jon Brooks (4,512)A October 12, 2015

    Ah, this comic’s message reminds me of this article:


  • loulou (3) September 29, 2015

    This is not by Bill Watterson (only used his style). The autor is Gavin Aung Than, from Zen Pencils (
    Please change the title to give proper credit! Thanks…

    • Jordan Bates (4,684)A September 29, 2015

      the advice is from bill watterson — i.e. the words. sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      • Justine (2) October 8, 2015

        You could credit them both…

        • Rebecca (1) October 10, 2015

          Right? This shows an under appreciated artist for choosing to stay home with his kid. Yet the artist of this comic isn’t mentioned. o_O

          • Zuva (5) October 11, 2015

            Title is misleading, but both the artist and author are credited at the bottom.

            • Jonathan (6) October 13, 2015

              I love that you’re selling ad space to Starbucks using this misleading, fake Watterson piece that casts global advertising as evil.

        • Jordan Bates (4,684)A October 13, 2015

          the Zen Pencils attribution is *contained* in the comic already. it’s in the bottom-right corner. changed the title to mention Zen Pencils too

          • Jeff (1) October 13, 2015

            Plus the artists webpage says:

            – The quote used in the comic is taken from a graduation speech Watterson gave at his alma mater, Kenyon College, in 1990. Brain Pickings has a nice article about it. The comic is basically the story of my life, except I’m a stay-at-home-dad to two dogs. My ex-boss even asked me if I wanted to return to my old job.

            • Jeff (1) October 13, 2015

              So people please quit trying to find fault.

      • Julia (4) October 13, 2015

        You should include a link back to Gavin’s Zen Pencils site.

    • Julia (4) October 13, 2015

      Absolutely!! And please go straight to the source, and buy Gavin’s book or a poster, to keep this wonderful stuff coming.

      • Michael (0) October 13, 2015

        But then this sight couldn’t reap it’s sweet sweet Karma at the expensive of the content creator

  • Jonathan (6) October 12, 2015

    I find the title of this article very misleading. I also take issue with his portrayal of “Global Adverti$ing” as the face and force of evil for creatives, and as the antithesis to living a rich and balanced life.

    Casting the advertising industry as this villain seems predictable and cliché.

    For my agency and many of our friends and colleagues, commercial arts, advertising, and related creative services have been the only industry capable or willing to pay a living wage, as well tolerate if not celebrate alternative / creative work methods and lifestyles. Like a lot of industries, advertising has it’s share of excesses and abuses – but I would argue no more than most. The people and organizations we surround ourselves with constantly strive to create great work, work environments, and to live full and productive lives in and out of the office.

    Creatives who are unable to become multi-millionaires by drawing syndicated comics from home like Watterson will continue to find work wherever we can. My agency will continue to work alongside creatives of all fields, and treat them and compensate them as best we can. It is not the sole measure of our worth, but we think it’s pretty important.

    • Aghast (0) October 12, 2015

      Casting the advertising industry as this villain seems predictable and BASED ON REAL LIFE:

      “He then joined a small advertising agency and worked there for four years as a designer, creating grocery advertisements while also working on his own projects including development of his own cartoon strip and contributions to Target: The Political Cartoon Quarterly.” — Wikipedia article on Bill Watterson (

      I get that you’re in the industry and all, but a little research goes a long way. Basing a cartoon illustrating a guy’s life around events in that guy’s life isn’t “cliché,” it’s accurate.

      • Jonathan (6) October 12, 2015

        I don’t see the word “villian” in there anywhere. Sounds like that small ad agency gave him a salary and the freedom / flexibility to begin developing “his own cartoon strip.” … those bastards!

      • ynot (0) October 13, 2015

        I don’t see the villain aspect. I worked at an agency for a long while and saw how ruthless things can get once you are bought out by a big company. Long hours and insane deadlines with 0 care for your personal life is what it came down to. Also creatives were the only team really respected, tech was an annoying necessary evil to most of the company. I am glad this comic at least points that out, that advertising while paying well tends to be a soulless place where people are trying to cram meaning, culture, and a good story into a brand that sells dog food.

        • Jonathan (6) October 13, 2015

          The point is that EVERY job / industry has it’s share of “horror stories” – advertising no more and no less. But let’s face it, we’re not talking about Watterson working in a coal mine before he became successful at cartooning. For all we know working on those grocery ads was an awesome gig that taught him a lot. I would also argue that the “culture” Watterson is referring to is the culture of American capitalism, not the internal culture of some global ad agency as depicted in this comic.

          What difference does it make whether you’re using your talents by day to help someone sell their brand of dog food or whether you’re writing code for a credit card company’s app? If it was my dream to make and sell dog food, I sure wouldn’t want you working on my account. Want to work for an NGO, charity, or church? Good. Do it. Want to do your own thing? Great. Do it. Need some rent money or baby food? Freelance at an ad agency that doesn’t have a dog food account. And like any job search, try to find a place run by and staffed by decent people.

          • Tyler (3) October 13, 2015

            Somehow the overprocessed thoughts in this thread of commentary have managed to lose the ‘zen’ of this strip.

            • Jonathan (6) October 13, 2015

              I guess I don’t find any zen in ripping off a popular artist to sell prints and advertising space while misappropriating his words to blame the advertising industry for the woes of being an artist.

              • unicornrabbit (0) October 15, 2015

                This got very personal all of the sudden… The author/Watterson is not making any implications about advertising or dog food. The point is that no one is a failure for pursuing a non-average career.

                • Jonathan (6) October 15, 2015

                  @unicornrabbit I get the point of the piece, thanks… however Zen Pencils is distinctly casting the advertising industry as a villain in his interpretation of Watterson’s words, hence my original post. Then @ynot implied that working on advertising dog food ( ie. products that are not cool ) was “soulless,” to which I also responded. Nothing personal, except perhaps to Watterson when/if he discovers people selling prints and ad space on a piece misleadingly attributed to him. ;-)

          • Bex (0) November 28, 2015

            Jonathan – got my thoughts in one. I’m now teaching digital marketing, inc bits of PR/advertising and encouraging students to think about their options, esp in third sector.

      • Benjamin (0) October 13, 2015

        Honestly, it would also be based on real life and be even more poignant if it started with Bill drawing a Calvin and Hobbes strip and feeling restless about it after all these years. He decides to quit making Calvin and Hobbes despite the clamor from his publisher and everyone else wanting more more more. I don’t see it as an issue of the advertising industry but of turning a means to an end into an end in itself. That includes even something that millions might envy, like creating more Calvin and Hobbes strips.

    • Warren (0) October 18, 2015

      Your missing the point.

  • onelovechange (440) September 28, 2015

    Fckin beautiful