Calvin and Hobbes is, without a doubt, one of the greatest comic strips of all-time.  It was drawn by Bill Watterson from 1985 until he got really bitter and disappeared out of the public eye in 1996 (at which time the strip was carried by over 2,400 newspapers). You can go read old C&H strips at

The Characters (just short bios, see the individual character nodes for more information)

Calvin is a six-year-old boy, and is the main character of the comic strip.  He lives at home with his parents, Calvin's Mom and Calvin's Dad.  He has a stuffed tiger named Hobbes, who he believes is real and with which he converses and interacts.  He has an overactive imagination, and just about every comic strip has some element of fantasy in it.  Calvin is rambunctious, getting into trouble frequently and often breaking everything remotely breakable in his parents' house.  He is extremely smart, but his imagination and immaturity make success in school impossible.  He represents the piece in all of us that wants to stay a kid forever--and who can blame him?

Hobbes is a stuffed tiger that comes to life whenever only Calvin is around.  Hobbes is the voice of reason (Calvin's dramatic foil), usually trying to talk Calvin out of harebrained ideas that usually culminate in something blowing up or sending the two of them hurtling off a large cliff.  Loves tuna fish.  Although they fight often, Hobbes is a perfect best friend and companion.  He is usually lying in wait for Calvin when he returns from school, to pounce on him with a giant hug as his own peculiar show of affection.

Bill Watterson says: "I don't think of Hobbes as a doll that miraculously comes to life when Calvin's around. Neither do I think of Hobbes as the product of Calvin's imagination...Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way."

Calvin's Mom
Always around, trying to make sure Calvin doesn't blow up the house or do something equally catastrophic.

Calvin's Dad
Works as a patent lawyer.  Most often seen sitting at home, trying to get Calvin to build character or giving him ridiculous and completely wrong explanations of how something in the world works.  (The world was black and white)

Susie Derkins
A girl in Calvin's class.  Calvin is constantly trying to gross her out at lunch or throw snowballs at her (because he has a crush on her, of course).

Miss Wormwood
Calvin's first grade teacher.

The Babysitter.  The strips in which Rosalyn came to babysit are some of the best in the series, IMHO.

The Bully.  Not very bright.  Always after Calvin's lunch money.

Spaceman Spiff/Stupendous Man/Tracer Bullet
Three of Calvin's alter egos.  Spaceman Spiff is Calvin's daydream-self, off fighting frightening aliens on strange planets.  Stupendous Man is Calvin's disguise outfit when he needs to do something incognito, such as thwarting Babysitter Girl's evil plans.

Other Calvin and Hobbes nodes:

On a personal note...I grew up with Calvin and Hobbes--I was 5 in 1985 when the strip began and 16 in 1996 when it concluded--and I think for a lot of people in my generation it represents our innocence lost more powerfully than any serious medium ever could.  Calvin was what we all wanted to be, wasn't it?  The perfect kid.  Evil plots to escape our teachers and babysitters, transporting ourselves back in time to hang out with dinosaurs for an afternoon, with a best friend that never betrayed us, never told on us, never was too busy for us.

As I find myself becoming more Calvin's Dad than Calvin nowadays, I take solace in knowing that Calvin is always somewhere inside me no matter how deeply buried it might seem.  All I need do is open up the pages of any Calvin and Hobbes anthology--or just look at any of the walls in my bedroom, where I have dog-eared and yellowed old strips taped up almost everywhere--and peer into his wide, innocent, rambunctious six year old eyes.

And maybe into my own.