Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger, Bill (CALVIN AND HOBBES) Watterson and the "I owe you nothing else" ethos.

[On THE NEW YORKER's website at in the Online-only section, there's a Back Issues link to J.D. Salinger's short stories written for the magazine.]

It always fascinates/perplexes people when artists go into exile after they determine their careers are finite, with no reason to add to their accomplishments; Greta Garbo, J.D. Salinger and cartoonist Bill Watterson of CALVIN AND HOBBES fame are the three most prominent examples.

Inevitably, the exiled artist is either pursued by curious fans or has to cope with will-there-be-a-comeback rumors.

In the case of the now-deceased Salinger, there is speculation as to the unpublished manuscripts he left behind and whether they will see any kind of posthumous publication.

Given Salinger's apparent ego, perfectionism and desire for absolute control over his work (he never again spoke to a NEW YORKER editor after the editor added a comma to one of Salinger's short stories), perhaps it's better to keep the legend intact.

Sometimes, we're not meant to have access to everything from the artists we treasure.

[UPDATE 2/1/10: Bill Watterson gives a rare interview--again justifying his decision to end CALVIN AND HOBBES and continue living off the public grid--]

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