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7 Things You Might Not Know About Calvin and Hobbes

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Though we can’t pick your friends, we strongly encourage you to ostracize anyone who expresses disinterest or disdain for Calvin and Hobbes, the brilliant comic strip illustrated by Bill Watterson from 1985 to 1995. For the December 2013 issue of mental_floss magazine, we scored a rare interview with the famously private Mr. Watterson. Here are seven more notes about the author, the boy, and his stuffed tiger. Tuna fish sandwich and toboggan optional.

1. Watterson to Spielberg and Lucas: Thanks, But No Thanks

Lee Salem, Watterson’s editor at Universal Press Syndicate, recalls fielding several calls in the 1980s from a who’s who of celebrities and producers who wanted to either get in business with the author or just pass along their admiration for his work. At one point, both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas reached out asking to meet with Watterson, but the artist, who felt schmoozing and publicity took his focus away from the strip, politely declined. (Salem did, however, forward a fan letter to Watterson from Stephen King. The editor didn’t open it, but we’d like to think it expressed satisfaction at the numerous decapitated and suicidal snowmen that populated Calvin’s front yard over the years.)

2. Calvin and Hobbes … and Robotman?

When Watterson was busy trying to find a home for Calvin and Hobbes in its earliest incarnation—the two were supporting characters in a strip titled In the Doghouse, about the grown-up struggles of Calvin’s older brother—United Feature Syndicate made the cartoonist an offer: Would he shoehorn an existing character, a sentient machine named Robotman, into some of Calvin’s fantasies? The syndicate had licensing deals cooking and was looking to get their intellectual property into newspapers to help push merchandise. Watterson, displeased with the crassly commercial nature of the request, refused. (Robotman got his own strip in 1985. And no, we don’t remember him, either.)

3. The Complete Collection Isn’t Quite Complete

To celebrate the strip’s 20th anniversary in 2005, publisher Andrews McMeel issued a hernia-inducing collection of Watterson’s entire body of work—sort of. Salem recalls a minor blow-up from readers when Watterson published two strips in the 1980s that depicted Calvin mocking the idea he might be adopted. In one strip, Calvin’s complains that “I’ll bet my biological mother would’ve bought me a comic book…” It was later changed to, “I’ll bet a good mother would’ve bought me a comic book…”

Another strip, featuring Hobbes in a washing machine, is missing from the collection entirely. Some have speculated that putting the tiger in a spin cycle might be an unwelcome hint he’s not real. No one, including Watterson, ever wanted to have that question answered.

4. Watterson Did License. A Little.

The persistent affection for Calvin and Hobbes is attributable in part to Watterson’s adamant refusal to water down his characters with toys, coffee mugs, and backpacks. While there was never a Garfield-esque empire of merchandising, he did occasionally offer his blessing for ancillary items. Calvin appeared on a Museum of Modern Art shirt commemorating an Ohio State University exhibition of comic art in 2001; two calendars, for 1989 and 1990, were issued; the book Teaching with Calvin and Hobbes was a tutorial intended to help students improve their language skills; finally, the duo mugged for a postage stamp in 2010, part of a Postal Service sheet of comic strip icons.

5. Urine Trouble

While any true fan of Calvin and Hobbes finds the ubiquitous, unauthorized car decal of Calvin peeing on automotive logos distasteful, at least one state took legal action: In the late 1990s, South Carolina slapped drivers sporting it with a ticket for $200, declaring it “obscene.” In a 2005 Q&A with readers to promote the Complete collection, Watterson dryly noted that he “clearly miscalculated how popular it would be to show Calvin urinating on a Ford logo.”

6. Spaceman Spiff Was Originally the Whole Idea

When Watterson decided to exit a floundering career in editorial cartooning, he imagined a number of strips and circulated them amongst the syndicates. One of them, Spaceman Spiff, was intended to be a parody of the Star Wars space fantasy genre. “It was so bad,” Watterson told the Dallas Morning News in 1987, “that I make fun of it in Calvin.”

7. The Last Calvin Strip Wasn’t Watterson’s Swan Song

Though he’s never returned to cartooning and only paints for his own satisfaction, Watterson did release a new piece of work in 2012: An oil-on-canvas depiction of Petey Otterloop, one of the characters in the comic strip Cul de Sac. Watterson donated the work to help raise funds for Parkinson’s research, a disease afflicting the strip’s author, Richard Thompson. Selling for over $13,000 at auction, it might just be the most affordable piece of Watterson art we’ll ever see: an original Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip sold for a staggering $203,150 last year.

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink

Bella

Big Daddy

Carousel

Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Hellboy

Kagemusha

Laura

Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns

Millennium 

Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)

Patton

Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)

Titanic

October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)

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