Hundreds of comic strips have been published in newspapers. The majority are terrible, and almost all the rest are mediocre. There have been maybe four or five good comic strips in the history of the world. So saying that Calvin and Hobbes is the best comic strip ever doesn't really hold a lot of weight.-Why Bill Watterson is our hero
I don't know about the four or five in the above assessment. I think I can list more great comic strips than that (though many would be before my time, at least when they were being drawn by the original artists). Let's see, there's..
Dennis the Menace
Little Orphan Annie
Well, you get the idea. Still, Calvin and Hobbes was a great comic strip. Was it the "best" ever? I don't know. It's too subjective. But is was one of the best ever published in daily newspapers. It ran only ten years (a fraction of a second in comic strip terms, where most strips run for decades, often even after the creator of the strip has passed away) from 1985-1995. Why did Bill Watterson quit? He said he'd done all he could in the comic strip medium (which sounds like BS to me, but what do I know; Jackie Gleason said something similar to explain why he quit after the first season of The Honeymooners, but he went on to do more Honeymooners sketches the very next year as part of the next season's 1956-57 separate variety show) .
On his ending of the strip, Watterson wrote a message for newspaper editors:
I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the year. This was not a recent or an easy decision, and I leave with some sadness. My interests have shifted, however, and I believe I've done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises. I have not yet decided on future projects, but my relationship with Universal Press Syndicate will continue.
That so many newspapers would carry Calvin and Hobbes is an honor I'll long be proud of, and I've greatly appreciated your support and indulgence over the last decade. Drawing this comic strip has been a privilege and a pleasure, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Imagine if Charles Schultz had pulled that in 1960 (the tenth anniversary of Peanuts). We would never had had all those great strips throughout the rest of his career and the real development and coming into the spotlight of a character like Snoopy. Al Capp was no quitter either, with Li'l Abner running for over 40 years!
Bill Watterson was acknowledged by the National Cartoonists Society twice (in 1986 and 1988) with the awarding of the Reuben Award (named after Rube Goldberg). To see all of the winners since 1946 go here: REUBEN AWARD WINNERS.
h/t to The Commentator (and T.C., when we hat tip, we actually give a link back, unlike some bloggers we know; SE don't get no respect!)