Thursday, May 17, 2012

Calvin and Hobbes and Susie (The Little Nemesis Who Could)

Yeah, that'd be my expression too.
There are few things that immediately cause everyone within hearing distance when they're mentioned to stop what they're doing in order to exult in how awesome they are. Calvin and Hobbes is one of those things. It's one of the few comics that knew how to balance the perfect combination of childhood nostalgia with curiosity with insanity. And it didn't overstay it's welcome, leaving exactly when it was time to go.

As a kid, I was probably not that different from Calvin. A human wrecking ball with too much imagination and time, and not nearly enough concept of how the world really works. But I have to say that my favorite character has always been Susie Derkins.

It's funny, because in any other strip, Susie would be the stereotypical wet blanket. She's Calvin's neighbor and nemesis, the girl who he'll probably develop highly confusing feelings for in puberty. For now, though, he's happy to pelt her with snowballs and try to ruin her day.

Susie awesome because she never lets her get it down. Now, she's not one of those insipid cartoon characters who is incapable of having bad feelings about people. No, she's just optimistic. She gets that Calvin is annoying, and sometimes she turns the tables on him, beating him at his own games of irritation and even kidnapping Hobbes.

Susie's never just the butt of the joke, and that's what elevated her past the other little girls in comics about kids. It was never about Susie at all, but about Calvin and his view of the world. While this could be viewed as sexist in that it was never about Susie at all, I choose to see it as pretty cool that Susie was such a good nemesis for Calvin to have. She was smart and motivated. She clearly knew that she wanted to do something important with her life, and she wasn't going to let Calvin hold her back.

She was, however, going to try to be friends with Calvin, because she was nice. She reached out and tried to include him, and when he inevitably bit back at her, she took it in stride and kicked his butt.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that while I totally related to Calvin as a kid, I wanted to be Susie. I wanna be that cool, and it makes me sad that there aren't as many examples of comic kids with that level of awesomeness.

True love is messing with someone and knowing they'll mess with you back.


  1. Yes yes yes. I looooove Susie's brains and awesome attitude.

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  3. Actually she does get down from time to time. In fact her vulnerability, as well Calvin's (see the breakin arc and the dead bird arc) is part of what her makes such a great character