By Darren Franich
June 08, 2014 at 06:07 PM EDT

Bill Watterson drew Calvin and Hobbes, the last great comic strip of the 20th century and one of the best things ever, period. Then he retired and generally opted out of public life — not quite the comics’ Salinger but maybe the comics’ Harper Lee. 2014 is the year that changed. A few months ago, Watterson illustrated the poster for the comic documentary Stripped. And this week, Watterson staged a quiet comeback to the comics page, contributing artwork to three Pearls Before Swine strips.

As recounted by Swine‘s writer-illustrator Stephan Pastis on his blog, the contribution emerged out of an email exchange between the two cartoonists. The three strips feature a second-grader named Lib (which sounds like “Bill” backwards) briefly taking over the drawing of the strip from Pastis. The results include all the great hallmarks of Calvin and Hobbes: Alligators, martian robot attacks, a comically inflated self-image.

Check ’em out below. (Click for a larger size!)

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Bourdain: Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Ripert: Jamie McCarthy/; Choi: Katy Winn/Getty Images
Jim Spellman/