05 Jun 2015
On any given day i can pick up a collection of Dennis or Calvin comic strips and simply crack up with laughter, however sombre my mood otherwise may be. Anyone, who even as an adult enjoys the humour of these two comics, a Tom and Jerry cartoon or something like an Ice Age movie series is for me a kindred soul whose world view is quite in tune with mine!!
The humorous antics of these two mischievous six-year-olds have a huge fan-following around the world among kids and adults alike. One made his debut in the comic strips of the 1950s, the other in the 1980s and in many ways each mirrors the life and times of their respective generations.
Dennis Mitchell with all his wide-eyed-curiosity, his innocent matter of fact bluntness, his energy and enthusiasm that only seems to lead to further trouble ( often at the expense of his hapless neighbour Mr Wilson!!) is a product of simpler times. He gets into fights with boys his age, he hates carrots and baths but loves mud-puddles and getting dirty playing outdoors with his dog Ruff ( still chuckle at one frame where he looks at this all well-dressed-properly-groomed image of himself in the mirror of a trial room and tells his mother..’I’ve socked kids in the face for looking like this!!’) and his pockets (much to the horror of his mother) are generally full with snakes, frogs or his sling-shot. His long suffering parents often seem to be at their wits end on what to do with their precocious son as they shake their heads in consternation and try to explain his antics to others.
And then there is Calvin with his ambiguous stuffed tiger Hobbes. Like Dennis he too is outgoing and rambunctious with no sense of restraint and very little filter between his brain and mouth!! However his precociousness reflects the greater exposure of a digital age kid (his bizarre flights of fancy as spaceman Spiff being a case in point). His poor grades at school notwithstanding, he demonstrates a superior intelligence that gets bored easily with regular school work and he comes up with statements like
” I couldn’t complete my homework because the printer forgot to put glue in the letters and they kept falling from the text book…”
Or even check out the brilliance of his vocabulary when he tells Hobbes that he used to hate writing assignments till he realised that “the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity. With a little practice writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!!”
Even his mom and dad are new-age-parents not above outrageous behaviour of their own. In their special way they try to cope with the effort involved in parenting a kid like Calvin. His father’s sarcastic lies to Calvin’s straight questions are just priceless!!
So while the former is representative of my generation and the latter perhaps more like that of my kids, i wonder which new character will define the generation of my grand kid…