Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Names from Calvin and Hobbes

Hello, readers!

Today's post is a study of one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. If you aren't familiar with this excellent artistry, check out any of the compilation books and enjoy! The strip focuses on precocious six-year-old Calvin and his tuna-loving tiger Hobbes, and it explores everything from philosophical concepts to religious doctrines to terrible babysitters.

The strip ran from 1985-95, and it's still regarded as a classic, with its influences extending into today's funny pages (see the adorable documentary Dear Mr. Watterson for more about its impact). Let's look at some of the names associated with this great comic!

Named for John Calvin, a major player in the Protest Reformation (and the founder of Calvinsim), six-year old Calvin more than lives up to his name - he's intelligent, funny, and very observant. The name Calvin has never been far from the top 200, and it even shows a bump in popularity during the strip's run. Nickname Cal is cute, but the full form has strength and tenacity. 

Calvin's stuffed (or real?) tiger is named for Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth-century founder of modern philosophy. Though this English surname is now more associated with the comic strip, Hobbes has begun to appear in name records - it was given to twelve boys in 2015 (it's like we're watching Millennials begin to name their children). Hobbes is a diminutive of Robert, and fits in well with today's trends towards surnames. 

Susie Derkins
Calvin's nemesis (and possible crush) is Susie, a match for the boy in intelligence, wit, and cunning. Fans of the series have even created a sequel comic strip in which Calvin and Susie end up married.
While Susie is associated with mid-century name Susan, the nickname could gain more of a following now that Sadie and Maisie are back in the mix.

Possibly the only person Calvin truly fears and respects is Rosalyn, his teenage babysitter. Though she does seem to enjoy spending time with him, she is a no-nonsense kind of girl - and Calvin is all nonsense. Rosalyn has begun to rise again, thanks to True Blood and the -lyn trend, and this pretty name could reach fans of both vintage and modern sensibilities.

The school bully, Moe is a kid of few (monosyllabic) words. Though Moe is still connected with the Three Stooges and The Simpsons, it could make a comeback in a few years - its simple sound and (mostly) friendly vibe is appealing. Moe is also a common nickname for M names for both boys and girls.

Calvin's uncle makes an appearance in one or two strips, visiting Calvin's family. Funnily enough, there are a few Uncle Max's in cinema and television, prior to the resurgence of the name for kids.
Handsome and traditional Max is now at #118, with longer forms like Maxwell, Maximilian, and Maxim providing support.

Tracer Bullet
One of Calvin's alter-ego's is Tracer Bullet, a noir-style detective. Though Trace became a favorite in the last couple of decades, it's on the decline - perhaps active Tracer could gain some fans? It's been recorded sporadically between 1996 and 2015, and trades the country music association for a creative and boyish feeling.

Mabel Syrup
The author of Calvin's favorite book, Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, Mabel Syrup isn't incredibly prevalent in the strip (though she seems to be very creative!) While Mabel had a long hiatus from the top 1000, it's been steadily moving back up the list since 2013. This sweet and retro name deserves its resurgence!

Rosalyn's boyfriend (and Calvin's competition for her attention) is named Charlie. This standard nickname for Charles has extended to the girls in recent years, with kids of all genders receiving the names Charlie, Charlee, and Charley.

One of the monsters under Calvin's bed identifies himself as Maurice. This name has been on the decline for awhile - better variants include Morrison or Moss.

Another monster under Calvin's bed, but this time with a cooler name - Winslow fits in well with Willow and Wyatt. Nickname Win is fantastic, too!

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I like this! Just seeing "Calvin and Hobbes" puts a smile on my face.