A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas
Sometimes we here at NiB get to be some of the first people to see something very awesome. Naturally, we like to take that something awesome and share it with the world. In this particular case, one of our friends over at Down in Front, Teague Chrystie, teamed up with Jim Frommeyer to create a fantastic homage to Calvin & Hobbes…. Christmas-style. They were also nice enough to sit down and tell us more about the project.
Video and interview:
Did you guys read Calvin and Hobbes growing up? Tell us about your relationship with the comic.
Jim: Yes, I was a regular reader. Waiting on my parents to sort the Sunday paper and hand me the comics page was a source of constant frustration. They took forever. I never identified with Calvin as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I certainly see some similarities. Or maybe the comic just informed me. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s hard to separate.
Teague: I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, are you nuts? I have the Essential book in my bathroom, it’s my go-to. I’ve been reading them childhood. I think everyone feels a little like Calvin at some point, but dude, I swear to god, I was Calvin. I even looked like him. My dad even looked like his dad. Total fan.
How did you do this? What were the challenges?
Jim: The biggest challenge was staying true to the source material. We had discussions early on as to whether we should sprinkle in our own snowman interpretations, but ruled it out. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t hold a candle to Watterson’s creativity anyway. So trying to both recreate the scenes while also justifying their existence in motion was the challenge.
So the trick was to find snowmen that had implied movement. Like the sharks. That was an easy visual punchline. And then the obvious task of physically creating them by hand. I haven’t played with clay in 15 years. So figuring out how to do that, while staying visually true… required patience.
Teague: There was a lot of wasted sugar. The work done in post was pretty straightforward, from a visual effects standpoint. There’s three layers of snow going off into the distance, the color correction brings in some contrast and chilly mid-level coldness. The color scheme of the sky was inspired by those polar bear Coke commercials from the ’90s. The tricky stuff was things like changing the colors of the snowmen’s arms, because if they were black against a black background, I wouldn’t be able to bring them back in over the newly blue background. Stuff like that. Jim worked with me throughout shooting to make sure I had what I needed, so there really wasn’t a struggle anywhere in the pipeline.
Where did the idea come from?
Jim: The idea is obviously Watterson’s. But I was listening to a Howard the Duck commentary Teague was hosting on DiF, and at some point those guys sidetracked to talk about C&H. That got me thinking. So when I suggested maybe trying something, Teague was all in. It was great, since he was on the same wavelength. I think the only real disagreement we had was over the music choice.
Teague: On the show, I had said “you know what would be a great way to piss off the internet? Make an extremely plausible trailer for a fake Calvin and Hobbes movie, but get Calvin and Hobbes totally wrong. Oooooooh, they’d be pissed.” And at some point later, after Jim had directed a really awesome video for the home page of downinfront.net, he said something about Calvin’s snowmen and I was like “I like those!” I was kidding about the troll-the-world idea, but a Calvin and Hobbes video ended up happening anyway. The secret, kids, is never show Calvin or Hobbes. That’s when you’ve officially gotten it wrong. You can’t do them right. Period.
What was the disagreement about music?
Teague: Oh man.
Jim: I wanted a really haunting version of Carol of the Bells. He wanted anything else. He was right. Even if he wasn’t, he was going to win. He wanted it more.
Teague: No, seriously, we went through like fifty songs. We were hoping to find some magical sweet spot between Christmassy, and sweet, and sentimental, and mischevious, and kind of goofy. A particularly Carol of the Bellsy Carol of the Bells was the one Jim liked, because he loves ostinatos in minor keys that make his black heart giggle with suffering. I said we could just as well use the Requiem for a Dream thing. What you need to know about Jim is he’s an awful person.
We seriously tried everything. Pat Boone was the thing we both liked the most equally, as opposed to one or the other of us loving a song while the other hated it. (For instance, my Carol of the Bells was a version of O Holy Night that was camptacular.) Compromise, kids!
What is your favorite Calvin & Hobbes moment? Have you have created any snowman deaths yourself?
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