When you curl up with a collection of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip, you likely give no thought to the actual costs of the path of destruction cut by Calvin and Hobbes during their nearly decade-long free-for-all. But a certain Matt J. Michel has.
The editor of Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science (ahem, PNIS), “a part-serious, part-satirical journal publishing science-related articles,” Michel addressed the issue with all the seriousness — or at least part-seriousness — he could muster. Sitting down with the four-volume Complete Calvin and Hobbes, he scoured each of the 3,150 strips, attaching a price to each piece of damaged property explicitly depicted or attributed to the eternal 6-year-old.
To estimate the costs of damaged goods, Michel searched Amazon.com for comparable items, with some exceptions: For instance, he explains, “Calvin’s Mom seems somewhat fashionable, so when Calvin placed an incontinent toad on her sweater, I looked for a replacement on jcrew.com.” For property, he referred to homewyse.com and fixr.com, using the ZIP code for Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Watterson’s hometown.
The result? Calvin caused $15,955.50 worth of damage over the course of Calvin & Hobbes‘ 10-year run, ranging from a $2 broken jar to a flooded house that would cost $4,798.83 to repair (there also charts, even if they’re incomplete). It breaks down to $1,850.55 a year.
“If your little bundle of joy grows up to be a Tasmanian devil of terror, you can expect to pay almost two grand extra per year just in replacing or repairing items,” Michel writes in his conclusion. “Now, this figure isn’t expected to dissuade prospective parents into having children; in fact, I would question one’s parental ability if an extra $2,000 per year convinces them to not have kids. […] In parenting, you have to take the bad with the good. With a kid like Calvin, it’s probably mostly bad. But even raising a Calvin has its good moments (like here), which are well worth the extra $1,850 a year.”
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