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2017-05-09 13.30

Calvin holds up his poster.

From April 26th to May 8th of 1993, Calvin's school held a contest for the students to design a traffic safety poster, with the winner getting a $5 cash prize. Calvin was excited for the contest and immediately got to work with Hobbes helping him--Calvin grudgingly agreeing to split the prize if he won.

One requirement for the poster was a slogan:

  • Hobbes suggested, "Don't Look into Car Headlights and Freeze, because you will get Run Over or Shot." This was ultimately rejected by Calvin.
  • Calvin's dad suggested, "Cyclists have a right to the road too, you noise-polluting inconsiderate maniacs! I hope gas goes up to eight bucks a gallon!", which was also rejected by Calvin.
  • Calvin's mom suggested, "Before you cross, look each way and you'll get home safe each day," which Hobbes noted was pretty catchy.
  • Calvin ultimately went with his own idea for a slogan: "Be careful or be roadkill."

Having finally decided the slogan, Calvin and Hobbes got to work on the artwork for the poster. Hobbes drew a gruesome road accident and Calvin put chunky spaghetti sauce on the poster to create the illusion of gore. After he turned in his poster for the contest, Calvin was convinced that he was a shoo-in to win the cash prize.

Unfortunately for Calvin, he ended up losing--and to add insult to injury (at least for Calvin), Susie Derkins was ultimately chosen as the winner, though it isn't revealed what she did for her poster. Calvin was upset about losing (especially to Susie) and was convinced that the whole thing was rigged against him. Hobbes didn't think it was a big deal, arguing that he and Calvin at least tried their best. But Calvin complained that there was no point in trying if you can't be a winner.

Calvin complained to his parents about what happened, even asking his dad to call the school board and have Susie disqualified and have Calvin be declared the winner, though Calvin's dad refused to do so. He tells his son that losing is a part of life and that it's important to be good sport and keep things in perspective, even going so far as to add in the proverb of "winning isn't everything". This didn't do anything to placate Calvin, however.

Behind the Scenes[]

Bill Watterson said this arc was inspired by a contest he entered when he went to elementary school. He worked hard on a careful drawing of Snoopy, which got him disqualified. He said he was crushed, but learned a valuable lesson about originality. "Calvin, of course, has the opposite problem".