"Something Under the Bed Is Drooling" adds a few more elements to the strip's repertoire. We have the first appearance of private eye Tracer Bullet (thanks to a haircut mishap) and the debut of Calvin's cardboard-box transmographier. There's also the first noticably-great philosophical conversation between the boy and his tiger while speeding down a hill.
There's also greater attention being paid to artistic detail. Calvin's fantasy sequences are of higher quality, though not to the obsessive degree Watterson would develop. Years later, he would point out the problems with a T-Rex's arms in a strip he drew about a family museum trip.
The most important progression in this book: the evolution of Calvin's dad. It's in this collection where he makes up an answer to a question from Calvin for the first time, describing how they determine load limits on bridges. He also gleefully shares his joy of walking outdoors in the freezing cold. His delusional love of something most people would find terrible reminds me of my own father. Horrifyingly, as an adult, he reminds me of myself now too - similar to a revelation Waterson made.
With that in mind, I find myself reading these strips with a bit more reflective thought. It isn't present in every cartoon here - really, for Watterson, it never was. There were always several strips that were plain irreverence - but I expect it to happen with increasing frequency as these volumes move forward.
This is another good one.
I don't expect a bad one.