Calvin and Hobbes vs. Robotman
Many years ago, I was staying at a friends house and had insomnia. I picked up a thick Calvin and Hobbes book and read the introduction, and it mentioned how Bill Watterson's syndicate tried to get him to use Robotman as a recurring character in Calvin and Hobbes.
This has nagged me for years! Did I really read it, or was it some kind of jumbled psuedo-memory caused by the insomnia? I mean, really, Robotman as part of C&H? I've skimmed the introduction of every C&H book I own or stumble across in a store, and have never found that quote again.
For some reason, this popped into my head yesterday and I did a bit of searching around the web; look what I found at http://bob.bigw.org/ch/interview.html:
Watterson: I think United really looks for the marketing more than some of the other syndicates, and they saw Hobbes as having marketing potential, so I don't think that was it. I was later offered the chance to incorporate Robotman into my strip. There they had envisioned a character as a product--toy lines, television show, everything--and they wanted a strip written around the character. They thought that maybe I could stick it in my strip, working with Calvin's imagination or something. They didn't really care too how much I did it, just so long as the character remained intact and would be a very major character...And I turned them down. It really went against my idea of what a comic strip should be. I'm not interested in slamming United Features here. Keep in mind that at the time, it was the only syndicate that had expressed any interest in my work. I remain grateful for their early attention. But there's a professional issue here. They told me that if I was to insert Robotman into my strip, they would reconsider it, and because the licensing was already in production, my strip would stand a better chance of being accepted. Not knowing if Calvin and Hobbes would ever go anywhere, it was difficult to turn down another chance at syndication. But I really recoiled at the idea of drawing somebody else's character. It's cartooning by committee, and I have a moral problem with that. It's not art then.