Although I did love Calvin and Hobbes as a kid, it seems unfair to present the pleasure I get out of Bill Watterson's classic drawings as solely nostalgic; What I loved about his comics then is about the same as why I appreciate them now, years later. And it's been years.
Out of all the pages of strips I poured over late at night with a flashlight, there's one that stays with me. Calvin and his family have ventured out, at the urging of Calvin's dad, on a camping trip that's turned horrible (the rain hasn't stopped, the food is cold, and the resentment is palpable). Calvin and Hobbes sit in their tent, invested in their own comic book, talking over what I imagine as the barrage of pouring rain a few millimeters of fabric away. One frame presents Calvin peeking out timidly into the darkly-penned monsoon around him, the next shows him and Hobbes dry and safely coccooned in their oasis, resuming conversation, and then I'm struck with this emotion.
It's isolation. Safeness. Everything in the setting (at least in my mind) is a hundred miles away: Home, parents, Calvin's dreaded elementary school. It's this feeling of refuge inside this tiny tent, where the real world is not, and youth reigns. I crave it. The older I get, the more I appreciate the image. And I think it's because I get farther and farther from it in my real life. I expect it, it's understandable. I imagine as I get older, start a career and family, the times I can afford the time to seek the solace will dwindle. Fewer and farther between. And though it sucks a bit, it's ok. It's natural. I guess as we age and take on little responsibilities of our own, it becomes our part to provide the refuge, more than it is to seek it. I owe my fondness for my youth to love and care of my parents; I hope to give my my son or daughter the same when the time comes.
The whole Calvin & Hobbes comic series is like that. It's a bit of a return to innocence: the time when I'd ride my bike to my friend Peter's house every Friday night, when I used to wonder what video game I would rent next from the movie store, when I used to drape my comforter down from my top bunk and create a little cabin fort out of the lower. Just me, my young thoughts and the westward window around 6 in the afternoon. Solace.