Image: Gabriel De Laubier

Bill Watterson’s long-gone, much-missed comic strip Calvin And Hobbes is not coming back. Ever. There is barely any newspaper industry for it to come back to at this point. Likewise, Watterson has nixed any official television or film adaptations of his work. The end of the line has been definitively reached. And yet, the adventures of a rambunctious 6-year-old and his philosophical stuffed tiger companion continue to inspire fans around the world, over 20 years after the strip went into reruns. Some of those fans use Watterson’s original strips as the basis for creative and ambitious pursuits of their own.

Take French graphic designer Gabriel De Laubier, who has created an interactive, three-dimensional version of a typical black-and-white Calvin And Hobbes comic. The gorgeous results are available both here and here. “Backface culling and flat-shading are used to give life to the cartoon drawings,” the artist modestly explains. No longer are Calvin or Hobbes confined to their usual two dimensions. At last, they can stretch their arms beyond the panel borders. Smell that in the air? That’s freedom, boys.

Calvin & Hobbes: the big bang by elbriga on Sketchfab

A project like this is an interesting exercise in problem-solving. Both Calvin and Hobbes were designed as two-dimensional characters by Watterson. Neither was meant to have physical depth. So what does a graphic artist like De Laubier do, for instance, with Calvin’s anarchic, spiky hair? The answer, in this case, is to turn Calvin’s hair spikes into pointy protrusions that resemble shark fins or the scales on a dinosaur’s back. What’s truly beautiful about this 3-D rendering of Calvin And Hobbes is the amount of freedom it gives the viewer. The scene, in which Calvin tells Hobbes of his distaste for the term “big bang theory,” can be viewed from numerous angles, and viewers can hop from panel to panel or zoom in and out as they see fit. It is an experience that is simultaneously extravagant, wholly unnecessary, and spiritually satisfying.

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[via Laughing Squid]