Is Richard Bach really Stephen King? I've been trying to confirm that one for years. I haven't searched in a while but the last few times I tried searching the net for that I came up with bupkis.
I don't think that Mallett = Watterson. Undoubtably Jef Mallett was/is inspired by Bill Watterson, but I seriously doubt that Mallett is a pen name of Watterson.
I've done some cartooning. Nothing serious. But serious enough that it's very, very difficult to even emulate a different cartoon style consistantly. It's like a signature. You just fall in to a style that works for you and it is really hard to shake that off, especially over dozens and hundreds of strips.
Sure, Frazz looks a little like Calvin. But the pen and ink work is drastically different. The caricatures are drastically different. Even the color work is different.
Watterson's color work is much more painterly, evoking watercolors and gauches. Mallett's color work is much more depth-shaded and more cartoony and less painterly - and more obviously Adobe Photoshop'ed.
They're both excellent strips. I've liked Frazz for years, and there's a lot of stuff that I love about Frazz that I loved about Calvin and Hobbes, and even Bloom County. But I think even Mallett would graciously step aside and declare Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes to be superior in a number of ways - in execution, in storylines, in style and interpretation.
There are many similarities between the strips. However, it would be entirely unfair to call Mallett's work unoriginal, because it isn't. Mallett's work definately has it's own style, and Mallet has a space he's certainly worked hard to carve out for himself. For all I care he can pour through the trade editions of Calvin and Hobbes for his inspiration, and it would be nothing but worthy flattery.
Every time I go back and read a Calvin and Hobbes book I'm pleasantly surprised with the amount of depth in the comic. Other than Bloom County or Outland, there's very few syndicated comics over the last 30-50 years that even approach the depth and artistry that Watterson was able to evoke. The finely honed sense of action, the comedic timing, the character expression.
So, no. I don't think so. It's a romantic notion, but that's probably all it is.
Here's mine: check out the "W-W" in Frazz's hair--could these initials stand for William Watterson?
From what you can figure out about Watterson from Calvin & Hobbes (and if the introduction to the Complete C & H is any guide, he himself thought you could get some pretty accurate ideas), do you really think he'd go in for something like that? Really? 'Cause I don't.
Feh. Mallett is definitely years behind Watterson in visual terms and, yeah, pretty literal with his humor. There are some nice feints in the daily strips, tho. There's no shame in being inspired by the best, but I don't think anyone's arguing this because they really think Frazz is that good, they're arguing it out of desperation. And that ends up being an insult to Mallett.