I posted this one before writing any commentary, and I got a thoughful piece of feedback from a reader who suggested that maybe having the narrative boxes is “dumbing it down.” I looked at it again, but I came to the conclusion that the narration needs to be there. There’s no other way to establish right away that this is a stuffed dog and not an actual (talking) dog.
The premise of the talking stuffed companion animal is fine, when it’s done as well as Calvin & Hobbes. But it’s kind of become an annoying cliche in comic strips. One thing that C&H kind of started out doing but then unfortunately quit on was the exploration of Hobbes as a facet of Calvin’s psyche. I guess Watterson was forced by the rules of dialogue to develop Hobbes as a distinct character, capable of surprising or contradicting Calvin, even though they’re really the same mind. To me, the real joke in this strip is that the kid is dealing with the changing nature of his fantasies by projecting them on the dog. Dunno if that came across or not.