Calvin & Hobbes return … sort of

This Oct. 23, 2013, file photo shows a curator at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, Ohio, holding a "Calvin and Hobbes" comic by cartoonist Bill Watterson. Watterson made a brief, unannounced return to newspaper cartooning to raise money for a good cause he said, and because he thought it would be funny. Watterson collaborated with "Pearls Before Swine" cartoonist Stephan Pastis on three strips that ran this week.

WASHINGTON — Fans of the reclusive but legendary Bill Watterson, who left the cartoon landscape with a wistful exit of his two uber-popular characters, Calvin & Hobbes, in 1995, have been wild with speculation that Watterson’s hand could be seen recently in a fellow artist’s strip.

The Washington Post confirmed it today in an exclusive: Watterson indeed “took over” Stephan Pastis’s “Pearls Before Swine” strip Wednesday through Friday this past week, though Pastis, who had not met Watterson until very recently, didn’t say a thing.

Apparently, astute fans started spotting clues and the speculation ran like wildfire. Both men came clean in the Post column. Watterson had reached out to Pastis in a bid to raise some money for Team Cul de Sac, a charity co-founded by editor/designer Chris Sparks and cartoonist-illustrator Richard Thompson to raise funds to fight Parkinson’s disease.

For his part, Pastis told the Post’s Michael Cavna that the call from Watterson stunned him, seeing that the 55-year-old artist has been known as one of the most reclusive in the industry. He said he’d sooner expect to collaborate with “Peanuts” creator George M. Schulz. “And yes,” Pastis told Cavna, “I am aware that Schulz is dead.”

See the Watterson/Pastis strips from this week and read more about this unexpected return to the comics at the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.com.

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