I just watched “Dear Mr. Watterson,” a light-hearted documentary about the impact that Bill Watterson’s ever-famous, ever-persistent comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes, has had on people over the years.
The part that gripped me most was when several prominent cartoonists spoke in extremely gloomy terms about new media.
Berkeley Breathed, the cartoonist behind Opus, Bloom County, and Outland, said that Bill Watterson had created the last great comic strip. He claims that art itself is now “atomized.”
He reasons that there’s a lot of stuff out there, but nothing that could be water-cooler conversation material, a piece of art that people – including Breathed’s mom – all know.
That made me wonder – are artists specializing their work to death? With so few filters to get through, and the freedom to only support the very, very specific, niche work we like, are we guaranteeing that no art can have the same widespread, enduring impact of something like Calvin & Hobbes?