In creating Martha Moody, the children’s book icon, the hero who can fight anyone and do anything, Amanda is writing into existence a new mythology that pulls from existing mythology. Amanda, as someone raised to be biblical and god-fearing, knows the stories of the bible as well as anyone; at times they become the rocks she uses to support herself. As she begins her path away from being the Highly Christian Good Wife, she doesn’t stray away from the biblical stories, only the teachings that contradict her desires. The stories remain the rock which gives inspiration to the adventures of Martha Moody.
When I first imagined the stories of Martha Moody I couldn’t help but think back to my own experiences of reading Calvin and Hobbes. At face value, they seem like incredibly different types of stories, and as we only read parts of Martha Moody (whatever Amanda has just written), it’s hard to know exactly how the stories read to the children buying them. If nothing else, Martha Moody is all print, and Calvin and Hobbes is a comic. However, the substance of the stories share similarities.
Martha Moody is a wild and adventurous woman, who’s unapologetically female and fat, and she’s respected as a whole being, not despite her physical appearance. She has Azreal, her angelic cow who protects her and stands by her. Calvin is a young boy and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger who accompanies him on all the trouble and mischief he gets into. Hobbes isn’t godly or all-powerful like Azreal, but he is highly philosophical and often is a voice of logic (if not reason) for Calvin.
The stories are not the same – Calvin “transmogrifying” himself into a tiny dinosaur, or creating an evil twin are less dramatic than the stories Martha Moody gets into. Amanda wrote Martha Moody into whatever situation she was feeling Real Martha deserved at the time, and as such some are far less nice to Martha than anything Calvin goes through.
I think the place where I connect Calvin and Martha is the relatability. When I read Calvin and Hobbes as a young child, I was obsessed because I saw a version of myself. I saw this young child with a huge imagination and a desire to play with his tiger and create his own world, where a cardboard box has a thousand uses. He didn’t want to play with other kids who cared about organized sports and he would rather fight an army of killer mutant snowmen than do his math homework. I felt a similarity between myself and Calvin (and later in life, Hobbes), and I can only imagine the impact it would have if the stories I read included a big girl, with big red hair, instead of a little boy.