Among many other things, Bill Waterson’s comic strip Calvin and Hobbes is a celebration of childhood imagination, and the power it has to transport you to other times and places. And when you get down to it, isn’t that what science fiction is all about, too? Few parts of Calvin and Hobbes display these two themes as well as the frequent Spaceman Spiff episodes, where the hyperactive young boy’s flights of fancy transform him into an intrepid space explorer, and his mundane environs into the hostile, adventure-filled reaches of the universe. Spaceman Spiff was always a fan favorite, and a new video pays tribute to Calvin’s forays into sci-fi.
Inspired by classic genre fare such as Flash Gordon, the Spaceman Spiff stories always channeled the pulpy side of speculative fiction, playing out like pieces of an old school movie serial. There’s lots of alliteration; dusty, rocky planets fraught with danger; and, of course, plenty of hideous space creatures to do battle with. These last ones were usually inspired by a teacher looking for an answer to an arithmetic problem, Calvin’s annoying neighbor Suzie Derkins, or one of his parents nagging him to clean his room.
This video is a fun little tribute to the comic strip, but it feels like the beginning of something bigger. Especially when looking at the pieces near the end, you could easily imagine this as an introduction to an animated series, with the credits layered in over the top. It does, however, capture the fun spirit of Calvin and Hobbes, and you can thank Camilo Fernandez for the entertainment.