Poll: Is Frazz a rip-off of Calvin and Hobbes?

Inspired by this thread, I have to ask:
Is Frazza rip-off of Calvinand Hobbes

I read C&H as a kid, and I never heard of Frazz until today. So I will admit right up front, I don’t know much about Frazz.

I have, however, spent the last hour reading Frazz comics I have found online, and I tells ya, it looks like a rip off. When I mentioned this in the other thread, I got one of those, “Ummmm…how can it be stolen if the characters are different?” posts, so I will elaborate: I don’t think Frazz’s author stole the actual characters and names and strips. I think he borrowed from the style and artwork so heavily that he should be kind of ashamed to get up every day and make a strip that is so unoriginal. Especially such a beloved strip that is so fiercely protected by the author. I mean, a tribute is something Watterson should expect and accept, but every day creating new artwork isn’t a tribute anymore.

I am not white knighting Watterson, I’m sure he can handle himself…if he wanted to deal with Frazz, he has phones and lawyers and what have you. But I am just saying that I consider this ‘biting’ as we say in the hood. He is stealing the Calvin and Hobbes style completely. And I don’t just mean the spikey yellow hair. I mean the style and feel of the artwork.

If you love Batman and grow up drawing Batman and thinking of stories about him, you can apply for a job at DC.

If you love C&H and grow up drawing C&H and thinking of stories for them…well you’re screwed.

Frazz isn’t even particularly like Calvin and Hobbes, in any significant way.

There are weird kids, but they’re not weird in the same way as Calvin - they’re not imaginative, they’re just all about random misunderstandings of the adult world.

The few times things do get to the same theme as Calvin is Caulfield’s deliberate weirdness to mess with the adults.

Adults in Calvin in Hobbes fall into three categories - Calvin’s Mom - the straight man - Calvin’s Dad - the other joke factory when he messes with Calvin - and everybody else - props.

Adults in the Frazz world fall into two - Frazz, Miss Plainwell, and Mr Burke - occasionally there to offer commentary on the kids antics, or each other and the other adults, occasionally provocateurs (although, even Frazz, the one most likely to goad the kids on, can only take so much Caulfield) - and Mrs Olsen, Mr Spaetzel, Coach Hacker, and the various unseen parents - walking punchlines.

Caulfield is almost all snark, like Tengu said.

I don’t really see the resemblance-and if I were like Calvin when young (which in a lot of ways I was), and I grew up to be Frazz, I’d shoot myself to put myself out of my misery.

Frazz is to C&H as C&H was to Peanuts.

You think that at any point in his career, let alone this many years after Watterson quit drawing newspaper comics, that somehow his style is trademarked such that other people shouldn’t draw in it?

I should have known the end point of “intellectual property” would be this kind of attitude in the populace.

My newspaper doesn’t carry Frazz, so I’ve only seen the occasional strip here or there. I can definitely see the resemblance in their visual styles, but I haven’t seen enough to decide which side of the “influenced by” vs “a ripoff of” line it falls on.

It’s nothing new for one artist to have been influenced by another; I can see the clear influence of Peanuts in Calvin & Hobbes, and of Doonesbury in Bloom County. But in those cases, the creators did go on to develop a definite style or look or voice of their own; and I can’t tell whether the creator of Frazz has done so.

My local paper (the Chicago Tribune) started running Frazz years ago. From the start, I did think that the art style was reminiscent of C&H (and that Frazz looked like he could be an adult version of Calvin). But, I agree with other posters that the content of the strip is quite different from C&H.

The style is definitely similar, but it’s not a ripoff.

Frazz reminds me of Calvin due to the way he’s drawn and some of Frazz’s quirkiness has a little bit of mischief in it, but I don’t really think it’s an intentional rip off. Caulfield misbehaves in a different way from Calvin; Caulfield is a grown up in a kids body, I think. He’s far more intellectual and savvy than your average elementary school age kid.

Frazz is too laid back to be an adult Calvin.

Agreed. Unless Calvin really mellowed out a lot once he got through puberty, he’s not Calvin. (Though, I sometimes wonder if Frazz’s bicycle riding is a reference to the fact that Calvin’s dad rode a bike, but I think it’s more likely that both Bill Watterson and Jef Mallett are bicyclists.)

Actually, you know what, this actually points to the significant difference between C&H and Frazz.

C&H is about kids. Frazz is about adults.

Calvin is a relatively typical little boy - his odd questions, gross behaviour, imaginative flights are all about what little boys are like.

But, Frazz, even when they jokes use kids, most of the time, they’re about adults - the kids and Frazz/Miss Plainwell/Mr Burke making commentary on the kids’ parents, or the other teachers. Occasionally they’ll do a joke that’s all about the kids (the recent ‘ew, I don’t like peas’ ‘that’s “peace”’ bit), but mostly, it’s about the grownups.

When I first saw Frazz, I thought it was a ripoff. In fact, I thought Jef Mallett was Bill Watterson under a pseudonym. However, Frazz is such a smart, funny, insightful strip, similar to C&H in art style and also in the “I’m not going to cater to an idiot audience” style of writing that I decided a long time ago that I just don’t care. I love Frazz as much as I loved Calvin and Hobbes. I think it’s the smartest thing on the comics page and I read it every day. If anything, I think it’s more of an homage than a ripoff.

I was obsessed with C&H when it was in the paper and I was a kid.

When Frazz came to my newspaper (which is when it debuted) I never thought it was like C&H.

I will admit that:

  1. I have a friend who is a very cool school janitor and always thought Frazz was about him
  2. I haven’t read it in maybe 4 years so perhaps the direction has changed and it IS more like C&H

But, just because it has some precocious kids and a person with spiky yellow hair…doesn’t equate it with C&H at all.

I think that most of us who see any similarities between the two are seeing them in (a) the lettering and art style, and (b) Frazz’s appearance, not the general theme of the strip.


Frazz is a triathelete, not just a bike rider. So I doubt the bicycle-specific portion of his existence is a reference to anything specific.

Which is fine, but that’s not what “ripping off” means. Lots of people draw like lots of other people. Are the 100s of anime artists who draw the same way ripping each other off? Heck, did anime rip off Disney?

I discovered Frazz a few months ago. In the time I’ve been reading it, it never once occurred to me that there was a similarity. I still can’t see it.

C&H is all about Calvin’s active imagination. I see nothing in Frazz that parallels that. Given that the single most important part is absent, there is nothing to suggest any kind of copy.

I have been reading Frazz for years and agree. It has been suggested several times that there is a similarity, but I have never seen it.

Comparisons to Calvin and Hobbes