Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Exploring Calvin & Hobbes, An Exhibition Catalog

I'll admit that I'm a sucker for deals, so despite having had lousy success with comics in the past on the Kindle store, I picked up Exploring Calvin & Hobbes for $1.99 when it went on sale. So this is as much a review of the Kindle Cloud reader as it is the book.

As a book, this is decent stuff for $1.99. You get a long interview with Bill Watterson (which is unusual, since he doesn't usually do interviews). There's a lot of good stuff in there, especially his indictment of modern childhood:
Really, I suppose the biggest gift my parents gave me was a lot of time. There was never a sense that I should be doing something else. If I was up in my room drawing, nobody bothered me. That kind of time is just indispensable. It's not a luxury, it's an absolute requirement. You've got to mess around---it's the only way to figure stuff out. (Kindle Loc 15)
I drew a couple of strips where Calvin and Hobbes are sitting alone in the car while Calvin's mom or dad shops. My parents did that all the time when we were kids, but if you did it now, someone would call the police. I imagine today's readers wonder what's wrong with me that I'd draw something like that. (Kindle Loc 36)
 The book's marketing literature talks about how there are various notes on the panels, but disappointingly, those are the curator's notes, not Watterson's. By far the most frustrating thing about the Kindle Cloud reader is that it doesn't let me highlight text, or even copy/paste quotations (i retyped all the above quotations!). Needless to say, the search functionality is also missing, as is bookmarking. This makes me glad I didn't pay full price for this (or any other comic), as obviously my basic Kindle is useless for reading comics. What's annoying is that the full blown Windows client doesn't work on comics either!

If I was running Windows 8, I suppose I could attempt using the Kindle App, but as it is, I'm forced to browse back and forth to extract the quotes I reproduced above, which was quite frustrating.

Nevertheless, the long interview was worth the $1.99, and the extra cartoons and notes are just icing on the cake. Recommended for Watterson fans, though I suppose you could just check it out from the library for free.

Regardless: don't pay for Kindle comics. They're just not worth it. Sad to say, pirated comics probably deliver a much better user experience.

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