If you were wondering why Calvin and Hobbes suddenly returned to the LAT comics pages this week, here's what's up. It's to help sell a massive new collection by the strip's creator, Bill Watterson. He stopped drawing C and H in 1996, but The Complete Calvin and Hobbes hits stores later this month (at a gasp-inducing cover price of $150), accompanied by a full-court press of promotion in more than 200 U.S. newspapers. The Times dropped "Momma" to re-run a selection of Watterson's old strips daily and Sunday through the holiday book-buying season. (A positive pull-quote from LAT reviewer Charles Solomon even tops the web page for the book at publisher Andrews McMeel.) Times comics honcho Sherry Stern is out of the office until next week and unable to clarify whether the paper is paying Universal Press Syndicate (which is owned by Andrews McMeel) for rights to run the strip, or whether the Times somehow gets compensated for publishing what could be argued is advertising for the book. A disclaimer in today's Comics Plus simply says that Calvin and Hobbes is back for an unexplained seventeen-week run. Some newspapers have carried stories informing readers about the book connection.
* Friday update: Times reader representative Jamie Gold emailed an L.A. Observed reader that the Times pays for the strip, just like any other comic.