The Real Villains of Calvin and Hobbes

Hint: It’s not The Big Space Ka-Boom, Dinosaurs, or Aliens…

Christina Bishop
10 min readNov 12, 2023

Now here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame?
Who is the Monster and who is the Man?- Alen Menkein Bells of Notre Dame.

Calvin and Hobbes have a world jam-packed with imagination and monsters yet no person has ever pondered who the villains are in Calvin's amazing world. If you are a Lucy Van Pelt you blame his imagination and hopes and want him to pay attention, If your Autism Speaks you want to cure him of his ADHD that makes his world amazing and terrifying. However, two people have done exactly that throughout its history and it’s Calvin's parents. If anything Bill Waterson’s comic should be a cautionary tale about parents who participate and allow a culture of making kids into mini adults or as Mister Rodgers puts it, Little Consumers.

Or trying to make a child normal in a world that has real aliens and monsters who are people complicit in ABA culture and therapy. A child like Calvin needs a Hobbes just like Chalie Brown has Snoopy who is the vocal navigator of many of the issues and emotions he goes through. Bill Waterson took many cues from his hero Charles Schultz and made his comic a voice for ADHD and Asperger’s children who are alone and are exposed to ABA parenting and Over-Realistic parenting.

If Lucy Van Pelt is anything it’s the toxic positive messages and ridicule Charles Schultz dealt with and were espoused verbatim by writers like Norman Vincent Pele and other Postive-Manafest gurus. Today we have books like The Secret and now know it’s all a sham, but in his era 40–50 people chowed down on toxic positivity like cotton candy, for five cents a book or tapes. Snoopy reminds Chalie Brown that his Good Grevicance is valid and fights the toxic masculine Red Barron. When a child like me is diagnosed with Asperger’s at five years old, what hopeful or positive messages and advice were there for both parent and child in the Zoomer era other than Temple Grandin and Parent Pitty Parties?

I was punished constantly for being angry and throwing toys or else said toy or thing would be taken until I was happy or calm again. In Heather Shumaker's book, It’s OK NOT to Share it says that parents should not take I hate you personally because kids have complex series of emotions and they express them through energy. Sadly some parents still think they can punish kids and teens for even more complex and even harder emotions that their child is dealing with. Using happiness, positivity, and calm as a reward for hiding negative and hard feelings is dangerous which is the whole premise of unregulated ABA therapy clinics that pander to such parents like Cavins or even my own Mom. When people made fun of me, backstabbed, or did even worse I was told not to intervene or react in a bad way.

Even if Charlie Brown ignored Lucy and all of her abuses they would still hurt, and even if he walked away from the football she would still do the same trick. When I talked to my mother about the recent conversations over ABA made by real Autistic people about the abuse and conditioning she said, “That’s only a few people who abuse it for themselves”. I then wondered what both Calvin and Hobbes or Zapple Phillip would say about the good old Riffton Chair which was both a comfort and a punishment in my childhood.

Some People are The Monsters

She should not take him seriously…

One time while showing off drafts of Struwwelkinder to a group of other Autistic and Asperger’s people there was a guy who said I needed a rival group that kept bullying them, my reply was that along with children being bullies the parents and adults who allow it to happen are much worse. He paused for a while because I gave him an ethical and psychological dilemma authors and writers have always dealt with. One book that might have answered his inquiry is Dr.Seuss’s The Sneetches where both Sneeches have children and parents with Stars on their bellies and none at all and along comes Monkey Mc Bean who exploits their disparity.

On an episode of Planet Money by NPR, a host got into hot water with an Ohio school when she used the book to talk about wealth inequality and segregated poverty. When a child brought up the slightest notion of racism and discrimination the host was silenced by the administration of the school. If anything there are a lot of Monkey Mc. Beans whom exploit people especially parents of every disabled or special ed child.

If your child can’t sit still, get them a Riffton Chair or Give them a Pill! Children eating too much junk put them on an Autism diet based on Leaky Gut Quackery! Want other people to feel bad for you as an Autism Mommy start a blog and post on YouTube without your child’s consent or autonomy!

The reason why monsters and villains exist is because all of them are metaphors for real-world evils and problems. If anything The Sneeches is a parable about the dangers of Eugenics and how far people will go to erase all their flaws and imperfections at a cost. Much like The Lorax, the original draft of the book did not have a happy ending for The Sneetches. Yet too many people want a happy ending in systemic problems that have always existed with disastrous consequences in the education of these problems. Yes, they may shake hands at the end, but will they fight each other again or fight Monkey Mc Bean for exploiting them? What if a school pops up only catering to Star-Bellys who pay lots of money and in turn pay their other Star-Bellied children to go to school?

Parents will pay or do ANYTHING for their child to be normal and that is why Calvin’s parents’ cruelty does not have to be like Lucy van Pelt’s but subtle to make parents feel sorry for them when every special ed kid knows the real monster hiding and drooling under the bed….

Something Under the Bed is Drooling.

When The Aliens are the Ableist

YES! The incredible Spaceman Spiff Survives!

There are so many similarities in Calvin’s roleplay of Spaceman Spiff fighting Aliens to Snoopy Dogfighting the Red Baron. Yet what people are not aware of is that both the villains Snoopy and Spiff are allegorical to real issues special ed kids face such as toxic masculinity and femininity, positivity, masking, and ableism. I have expressed my concerns about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, noting how Rowley and other characters Greg Heffly bullies need to know they have the power to stand up to him. Yet instead, Jeff Kinney makes another book to make Rowley and other victims look stupid which is a dinner bell to justify him being even more of an abelist.

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid won’t work Mr. Kinney!

If anything it’s people like Mr. Kinney and other ableist writers and creators who are the worst problem when it comes to special ed people who in study after study are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied by their neurotypical peers. Is it no wonder Calvin needs a Hobbs or Spaceman Spiff to deal with these monsters and aliens including adults at school? Adults think they can solve bullying through Jeff Kinney assemblies, craft projects, selling orange, blue, and pink shirts, and making kids sign pledges when these things have never worked. If anything it gives bullies even more fuel because an adult can blame a victim for being a target or giving in or not ignoring it when it still hurts.

Pink Shirt Day does not solve bullying.

I and several of my friends were the first special ed people to be integrated into Middle School yet I was separated from my peers because I was aggressive and angry and for good reason. Adults thought because I was the smart kid they had the gaul to separate me from special ed peers whom I became close to and adolescence made my anger even stronger. Being in classes where there were no exceptions for late work or even compassion for people like me created internalized hate and ableism even toward my peers. I had to call my Mom in front of my peers about late work and late assignments in tears. Aids who were supposed to help me helped people more physically disabled because they could not see Asperger’s and why I struggled.

Then when I tried to express all the anger and neglect it was all blamed on me when it was the adults and peers in the room who refused to change no matter how much Autism Awareness there was, it was lacking. Personal Responsibility is Libertarian and even Centist lingo for blaming you instead of the true responsibility of your peers, teachers, or even your parents to help you out. This is the excuse that fails so many of us yet I kept going and fighting every single day including in High School. Even though I graduated with honors I did not attend my graduation because people blamed me instead of their actions for how much pain I felt. While my cousins had open houses and parties, I had no one who came to my concerts or supported me as a writer and tuba player. When I did a joint concert with my Flint New Horizons Band and the other Youth Ensembles only my parents and my therapist saw us play the 1812 Overture.

1812 Oveture without the cannons…sorry Calvin.

Being in that group made me feel stronger as a player but yet again there came the voices of doubt that I would never make a career out of what I did unless I had papers on all of my halls proving I was as good as Charles Dallenbach. My hope was one day we would cross paths again and play O Isis und Osiris for him, yet every time I had a single hope, dream, and future goal that kept me afloat it would be blown up in my face and then blamed for it not being realistic or too vague enough for my Mom. I don’t recognize the Mom who homeschooled me, loved me, advocated for, and supported me, instead, I see Lucy Van Pelt or Calvin's Mom which is terrible but a sad truth for many Asperger’s and ADHD kids.


I love both of my parents but I can’t prove myself to them when they have old-fashioned goals of me becoming something I’m not which is a poor impaired person with a non-union job that will make me unhappy with life. Sadly, characters like Hobbs, Snoopy, Kiki, and even Struwwelpeter himself are way more supportive and sympathetic. If there is a Calvin and Hobbs for girls it’s Kiki and Gigi from Kiki’s Delivery Service. Imagine if like Kiki, Calvin lost his magic and imagination; no more Snow Monsters, Hobbs does not speak to him, and Spaceman Spiff can’t fly and fight the monsters and aliens anymore. He would be heartbroken.

Yet in Kiki, she meets an artist who likes her and is inspired by Kiki’s spirit and stays with her in her cabin. When she comes back two old ladies make her a cake to give to a little girl who helped them out.

Without even thinking about it, I used to be able to fly. Now I’m trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it.

If anything Calvin writing a paper might be the thing that does make him stronger and show his parents that his imagination and magic do matter. If they don’t it’s all on them when they find out a Tiger was a better support and parent than they were. If parents can learn anything from Calvin and Hobbes is, that for special needs children a childhood is more magical and wonderful than expecting them to have too many realistic rules and pointless goals. For the childhood they have will be a comfort in both adolescence and adulthood. So embrace the magic and mischief of childhood before it’s too late.

Let’s go Exploring!

For more resources on both Asperger’s and ADHD



Christina Bishop

Tuba player, creator of Struwwelkinder and The Flying Circus Orchestra