As the only boy in the neighborhood Calvin has to use his imagination to entertain himself, a fact that doesn't cause great problems for the lively six year old. In his unlimited fantasy world he can become the most amazing, and sometimes unrealistic, characters.
In one of his many fantasies he appears as a heroic jet pilot, behind the stick of an F15. From the skies he launches dozens of missiles towards the poor, defenseless school that he is forced to attend every day. The day after Calvin is totally convinced that all that is left of his school is a big bombed crater. He sighs resigned when he shows up and finds the school is whole.
The frightening monsters
Calvin, like many other children, is afraid of the dark. He has a constant fear of monsters hiding in his room. Generally the monsters are under his bed at night, but Calvin usually manages to scare them off with a couple of intimidating threats.
If however, the monsters should find themselves in the drawers or in the wardrobe, threats are not sufficient. The only way to deal with this problem is to make such a loud noise that the monsters become scared and break their cover. As soon as they're out in the open, Calvin blasts them to kingdom come with his toy-gun, or exposes them to deadly light. The actual result of this massacre is that the contents of drawers and wardrobes are scattered all over the floor, while the monsters scream in pain.
Sometimes Calvin uses insecticide to kill them, and it happens that he empties whole spray cans on one single monster. (This, of course, causes great irritation with his parents...)
Calvin often fights the monsters, which have invaded his room, with great courage. But, it also happens that he, as a little, scared six-year old, crawls under his quilt and cries for mommy.
Calvin's room is not the only place the sly monsters appear. The also show up in the bathroom and attack as soon as there is an opportunity. When Calvin is taking a bath (which he seldom do because he hates bathing...) a foam-monster puts its heart and soul into drowning him, while laughing viciously. Calvin saves his life by pulling the plug out of the bathtub, and rejoices as the monster disappears through the gully!
Calvin is especially taken up with being in the possession of power and strength. One of his fantasy characters is therefore the giant monster Godzilla. Imagining to be this character he crushes cities and all the people living there. In reality his toys are the sufferers, and they are smashed with a sarcastic grin; while Godzilla rejoices at his work.
Calvin the fly
Calvin has a taste for the tasteless, and loves everything that is disgusting. Since flies are repulsive, this is a creature Calvin loves to be. He compliments himself as the most detestable and repulsive bug that exists on the face of the earth. Sometimes his sudden transformation can be the result of a failed experiment, with "Calvin the fly" as a result. Other times he just changes into a fly without any given explanation. In this condition he gives the trash cans a hungry look, while he constantly looks for something he can infect. His existence as a fly lasts until his parents discovers the "flies" behaviour at the dinner table, where the food is flowing from its open mouth.
When it comes to homework Calvin normally transforms into an elephant. It is a matter of common knowledge that this animal has an amazing memory, something Calvin takes advantage of. As an elephant he only has to read his homework once! However, being an elephant does create some minor problems for the six-year old. The unfamiliar size and weight is not always easy to control. The elephant tramples and roars, and causes great annoyance with his parents. When Calvin shows up at school the next morning, in his own figure, the memory he had as an elephant is long gone. To his fright he can't remember a thing when the teacher asks him about his homework.
Calvin's parents are, as opposed to himself, very interested in art. This interest results in many visits to the museum, which certainly gives no satisfaction to a six year old. The only thing that interests Calvin is the skeletons of the prehistoric reptiles from the late cretaceous period. The impressive and bloodthirsty Tyrannosaurus Rex is given most attention by Calvin. This animal is also one of his favorite fantasy forms. When Calvin turns into a Tyrannosaurus he becomes the worst and cruellest dinosaur that has ever lived. To his parents great annoyance Calvin often becomes a T-Rex at the dinner table. He throws the food into his open mouth, with his whole face buried in the dinner plate, while letting out terrible roars! The only animal the T-Rex fears is the "Mummysaurus". When she yells at him, ordering him to pull himself together; the Tyrannosaurus suddenly picks up a knife and fork and behaves a bit more "human".
In a far corner of the galaxy a sudden flash of light races across the sky. Could it be a shooting star? Is it a meteor? Nope, it is just Spaceman Spiff in his roaring spaceship! The hero above all heroes, the man with the highest insurance premium in the universe!
Behind the quadrangular glasses of Spaceman Spiff is, of course, no one else but Calvin. Spiff is actually a part of the original characters in Calvin & Hobbes. The first time he showed up, the C&H stripes were only a couple of weeks old. Many other characters were not yet finished, but Spiff looked the same as he does today. Bill Watterson had, from the very beginning, a clear understanding of Spiff and his personality. This is actually not so hard to understand, because Spiff and his wild world probably belongs more to Watterson's generation than it does to todays little kids. The space hero Spiff has obviously ancestors within movies, radio and cartoons. One of the first "space heroes" was Buck Rogers, who appeared in the newspapers, for the first time, in 1929. Spiff is the latest addition to a old an dignified genealogical tree. Spiff doesn't quite fit the pattern though, after all he is not Calvin's alter ego for nothing!
The early heroes was often supported by an ingenious (or sometimes mad) scientist. Spiff makes his own inventions, or he buys equipment in the "second hand rocket-shop". Engineering is of no importance to him, it is the heroic deeds that counts.
Besides, the original hero always had a woman by his side. Buck Rogers had his Wilma, Flash Gordon had his Dale. But, could anyone imagine Spiff with Susie? Hardly, he has to much of Calvin in him for that.
For Calvin's part, the origin of this space hero and his ship lies in a small spaceship given to him by his parents. When he plays with this toy, he is totally wrapped up in what his doing and becomes Spiff. Everyone near to him turns into lethal space monsters that has to be eliminated!
Sometimes at school, when the lessons get to long, Calvin's mind wanders into the fantasy world of Spiff. Things like rubber bands and school books suddenly become death ray zorchers and other cosmic weapons in his hands. Spiff is now captured by the aliens who try to force him to reveal secret information of great importance to the further existence of the human race. What does happen (in the real world) is that his teacher asks him a question from his homework. Calvin, who is now in a complete different world, refuses to give in to the alien's threats and tries to escape by jumping out the window. His brave attempt to escape is rewarded by a visit to the principal.
In addition to Spiff, Watterson has made a parody of the great hero of the eighties, Superman. In this character Calvin appears in a red super hero outfit which his mom has sewed. In this outfit he becomes STUPENDOUS MAN, protector of the oppressed! When Calvin turns into Stupendous Man he suddenly has super strength and, of course, the ability to fly! In addition he is 100% bullet proof.
What really makes Stupendous Man angry is injustice. Therefore he often becomes this character when the babysitter, Rosalyn, arrives. The super hero throws himself upon Rosalyn, screaming that justice will be triumphant! Justice, in this case, is for Calvin to decide when it's bedtime, and what movies are appropriate for a six year old.
Being a super hero has its advantages. Stupendous Man is capable of studying homework with super speed. In his super outfit, with his supernatural powers, he can also reverse time by making the earth rotate backwards. By doing this he won't have to study until the next day....
Stupendous Man symbolizes Calvin's hunger for power and influence. Everything he is not capable of doing in his own power, is realized through the super hero. Stupendous Man fights for justice, but always justice in Calvin's favour. This justice seldom helps other people..
Some other characters that Calvin can become (more seldom):