Jason Gibbs | A Stuffed Tiger and Generational Tales

Jason Gibbs
Jason Gibbs

It seems to be a guarantee in life that as generations move forward, their critique of those that come next becomes louder with each passing year. 

The Greatest Generation beget Boomers, who beget Generation X, who beget Millennials, who are now watching Gen Z’s come of age and today, we follow the growth of Generation Alpha.  

Don’t ask me to try and explain the defining characteristics of each generation, but you undoubtedly have heard their references and the broad strokes that come with each of them, including their perceived entitlements, their thoughts on the world around us, and their defense of why they know what is right for the world. 

I don’t personally buy into generational groupings, for every individual has seen and interpreted their life experiences in their own way, and yet, there is commonality among us all when we look for it. 

We all strive to be successful, happy, and live a life we are proud of. I found myself thinking about that recently, as a young father and elected official, thinking about where I came from and where I am today. Recently I was reintroduced to something that I loved as a kid growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, and today, I have come to love it even more. That is the literary works of famed cartoonist Bill Watterson, and his award-winning comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. 

For those unfamiliar, Calvin and Hobbes depicted the life of a 6-year-old precocious and adventurous boy, Calvin, and his stuffed tiger Hobbes, while growing up in Suburban Middle America. The comic strip also found its way into a few collective books, which would sit on the bookshelves of households across the country, including my own.

As a kid, I remember laughing at the mischief, the jokes, and the hilarity of everyday life that Calvin would face with his best friend Hobbs, while rolling my eyes as his parents spent their day helping Calvin build character, learn life lessons, and frustratingly try to make him do his homework! It was just recently I had that “Oh My God Moment,” realizing that I have become Calvin’s parents, raising my own 6-year-old boy!

And that is where this comic strip has become so special to me, as someone who related so well to this young boy, who now relates all too well to his father in the strip. A man who enjoys a middle-America lifestyle, who constantly finds himself trying to steer his children down paths of respect and responsibility, but also remembering that teaching values, instilling structure, and living life free of boundary don’t always have to be separate things.

Perhaps what makes the cartoon so special now was the author’s ability to weave in philosophy without political bends, and causes readers young and old to stop and think about their own world, and not just the overt comedic displays in the cartoon. I would like to share just a couple of these moments found in Calvin and Hobbes:

“You know what’s weird? Day by Day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon … everything’s different.”

“We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us, that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

“I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot of life.”

As Calvin and Hobbes look upon piles of trash left in the outdoor wilderness, Calvin says, “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, is that none of it has tried to contact us.”

And finally, in the very last cell of Mr. Watterson’s comic strip before ending the story of Calvin and Hobbes, when a fresh pallet of snow had fallen near their home, Calvin and Hobbes run out with their toboggan to play, and Calvin looks at Hobbes and says, “It’s a magical World Ol’ Buddy, Lets go Exploring.”

Mr. Watterson created a masterpiece that transcends generations, allowing us to look at who we were, who we are, and show us how we can think about tomorrow, and not just be told what tomorrow will be.

May we all come to know the spirit of Calvin, the wisdom of his parents, and the beauty of the world waiting for us, when we choose to go exploring.

Jason Gibbs is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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