Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie

image I received the following email from Joe Mason. Instead of summarizing it, I'll just cut-and-paste the whole thing:

Amazon has a listing for "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie". The book also has a homepage at http://www.hamsterhueypress.com/, and it's listed as being written by "renowned story teller" Mabel S. Barr.

Hamster Huey is, of course, the fictional book written by "Mabel Syrup" in Calvin and Hobbes. It looks like somebody with a vanity press has ripped off the title (I don't think titles are copyrightable, so this may even be legal). This version of "Hamster Huey" certainly isn't a "classic and much-beloved tale" as the publisher claims, so it's a hoax in that sense. I suspect it may go even deeper, and there is no actual book: "At Ms. Barr.s request, only a limited number of copies of this first edition are being printed, and Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie is sure to sell out soon." That's an easy excuse for not shipping a single copy.

So - is this a vanity press trying to pass off its book as a famous title? Or is someone having a chuckle by tricking Amazon into printing a fake book listing?

I guess the easiest thing to do would be to order the book and see what arrives, but since I don't want to spend the money my hunch would be that it's a real book that's a homage to (or inspired by) the fictional book from Calvin and Hobbes. Though I think there would be some intellectual property issues involved if the author of the book being sold on Amazon hadn't got the permission of the Calvin and Hobbes author. As for the issue about the 'limited number of copies', I think they're referring to copies of the first edition. Presumably they could print further editions if the first one sold out. But the real ripoff is that they're charging $7 for an 8-page paperback.


Posted on Wed Mar 23, 2005


Your're right Alex. Titles cannot be copyrighted. But it sounds like they are using characters that are. I can't imagine any self respecting author requesting only a limited number of copies be printed unless it was a vanity press and she could only afford a few.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  09:57 PM
From the wikipedia entry:

"Due to [C&H Creator Bill] Watterson's strong anti-merchandising sentiments and his reluctance to return to the spotlight, almost no legitimate Calvin and Hobbes material exists outside of the published collections of newspaper strips."

Other net resources refer to his tendency to litigate any trademark violations, so if this is a hoax, it could prove to be a very costly one.
Posted by andy  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  10:03 PM
Calvin And Hobbes fixed wikipedia link.

There. I'm learnin.

I'd like it if Hamster Huey was real, but I kinda doubt it. I'll look around and see what I can see..
Posted by Rod  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  10:21 PM

hamster huey is dead. it's sad, really.
he was a nice fellow.

i did a search on the isbn listed for the book and found nothing. i google'd it and also checked it at http://www.gettextbooks.com as i have had good luck finding many books with them.
imo this is very definitely a vanity press.
Posted by thephrog  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  10:57 PM
I found the book used, under amazon's isbn, at:


Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie: The Renowned Hero's Most Famous Adventure
by Barr, Mabel price: $6.90
Ships within 2 to 3 days

Edition: First edition. Binding: Trade paperback Publisher: Hamster Huey Press, Gig Harbor, WA Date Published: 2004 ISBN: 0974909009 Description: Nick Goettling illustrations. New. No dust jacket. 8 p. Includes illustrations. Full color illustrations on most pages. Story title is well known but this is first time in print.
seller information:
Name: Carwibble's Closet, WA, USA
Reliability: 4/5
Posted by thephrog  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  11:04 PM
"hamster huey is dead. it's sad, really.
he was a nice fellow." - thephrog

Hamster Huey's gone
It's sad, really, very sad
He was a nice guy

There. My first Haiku since grade 9.

Posted by Rod  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  11:11 PM
Yeah.. Watterson is *rabidly* anti-merchandise. If it wasn't for the fact that those 'pissing Calvin' things have been copied and re-copied by umpteem bazillion window decal peddlers, he'd probably go and bust some kneecaps. I mentioned to a local T-shirt shop that had a (rather nice, actually) Spaceman Spiff T-shirt that he hasn't liscensed anything, and they said "Aw crap.. that one's a good seller.."

I'm thinking that Watterson has some claim possible. He can claim damages on the basis that the phrase appears in his works, and will be assosciated with his cartoon. Therefore, people will think it has been created either by him, or with his consent..

Trust me, Intellectual Property is one of those fields where it only needs to have feathers to be called a duck.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  11:22 PM
Aw jeeze.. have you guys seen the review on this?

"Having read as much of this title as possible, I have reached the conclusion that said tome is a fine addition to any Hamster Huey fan's collection of Hamster Huey speculative post-modern children's literature. The intrepid and probably morbidly of obese author has brought forth a book not as hotly anticipated as the soon-to-be-latest Harry Potter saga but in every line of crayon illustration oozes forth with brevid turgidity a vision only marred by the barren landscape of its inspiration. When Alfred Steckler proposed his theory of memelepsy, he prefigured the adjunct symbolizer meme (the omicron-signifier here) ratiocinating a similar paralimpsest that the Kablooie ensteuchifies not unlike the de Vragt neohomoiousion controversy. This does not imply anything to the contrary, however. We find in this an incontrovertible assertion to the opposite effect, namely that Steckler's extension to the deconstructionist ethos does NOT render invalid the Gooey Kablooie's primal importance vis a vis the travails of Huey's porcine ocularism. In summation, I conclude with these final words."

Uh.. huh.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  11:25 PM
I hadn't dug into it yet, and now, it seems that there's really no point. I'll just hide in the basement with my C&H books, some kleenex, and a jar of...


Pickles. Gherkins, to be exact.

Yeah, gherkins...


"Don't cry for me, for I am already dead." - B. Gumble
Posted by Rod  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  11:39 PM
So when do we get real live boxes of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs?

They're crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside....
Posted by Barghest  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  02:23 AM
The review seems very ridiculous. "Having read as much of this title as possible..."? Is the reviewer saying they struggled through an eight page book, or just the title on the cover of the book? 😕
Posted by Smerk  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  05:46 AM
Yeah, I really love the line:
"...in every line of crayon illustration oozes forth with brevid turgidity..."

It's funny. Although the word 'turgidity' is slightly repulsive.
Posted by Boo  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  05:56 AM
Okay, closest (most logical) interpretation in common English for "brevid turgidity" is actually contradictory. Brevity means short, to the point, while turgid (in writing) means rhetorical or pretentious, or flowery...(I'm trying to work with a thesaurus here, I haven't found a decent online dictionary, and our hard copy is in the other room.) 😏
Posted by Smerk  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  06:17 AM
Actually, is it just me, or does that review sound as though it could have been written by Hairy after swallowing a dictionary? 😊
Posted by Smerk  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  06:32 AM
Yes, it does rather.
Although it doesn't involve any quarreling with himself...
Posted by Boo  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  06:41 AM
Posted by Yaanu  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  10:36 AM
The above hamsterhuey link is registered to Hamsterhuey(dot)com.

It is registered through http://www.domainsbyproxy.com so you can't tell who REALLY registered it.

To sell a book on amazon, you need an ISBN number.

ISBN info and search tools can be found here.

A search of the database shows that the ISBN number listed with the book both on ebay and on the hamsterhuey website DOES NOT EXIST.

Therefore, the book does not, either. (Unless, of course, their database is not up to date)
Posted by Rod  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  11:14 AM
I assume the ridiculous review is the result of a different prankster - there's a long tradition of spoofing Amazon that way.
Posted by JoeNotCharles  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  11:21 AM
Like I said, unless their database is not up to date.
I kept looking, and found this...

These guys have this book listed by isbn number.
However, you don't actually need a book to get this number. Only about a hundred bucks (which would make things even more expensive than just the website...).
These guys have an online ISBM order form here.

Also, the guy has a bunch of quotes from people on his website. They check out to real people, all except for the author and the illustrator. But did these people really say these things?

Paul Spadoni is also real. His phone number and other info check out.

My question NOW is... if this guy has no problem putting all of his contact info on his webpage, why the hell did he pay extra to hide it from a 'whois' search?

I don't think I'll make up my mind now until I see an actual copy of the book.

Anybody wanna gamble that the 2 copies Amazon has listed are real, and order one? I'd love one, if it was real, but hey, I just spent my book budget for the month.
Posted by Rod  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  12:39 PM
Get Caias to buy it. I hear he's loaded.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  12:45 PM
Maybe I'll start a blog and offer to snort pepper TWICE if somebody buys the book for me. That's $7.50 worth of work, right?


On a side note, I read about a "Solar Death Ray" that a guy invented. You know what the first thing into my mind was... (besides the beer).

It actually works. Seriously.

Posted by Rod  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  12:53 PM
HAAAAA, Alex made a funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by X  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  01:00 PM
Yeah, and then he didn't erase it. 😜
Posted by Rod  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  01:12 PM
Rod, have you ever snorted pepper? If not then I'll up the ante and give a tenner. American, not that funny Canadian stuff. If you have snorted pepper than I probably don't have enough to convince you to do it again. There is nothing funny about holding your head upside down under a water fountain trying to rinse your nose out.

Well, there is but not if you're the one doing it
Posted by Charybdis  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  01:54 PM
The cover looks fishy. I have a feeling I've seen that rabbit somewhere. If I had to guess, I think the monsters came from one children's book, and the hamster and rabbit from a different one.

I read the What Others are Saying About... section and the first review is by the webmaster of calvinandhobbesfanclub.com, which is a real website. She has a link on her site announcing the new book. However, it's a very simplistic site; the whole purpose appears to be to download a card that says you are a member of the Calvin and Hobbes fan club. It could very well have been created to flesh out the hoax.

If it is a hoax, it's a pretty dull one, but I love the Amazon review. That was hilarious.
Posted by Rochelle  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  02:02 PM
The testimonials state that the book is great for those who have been bullied. Anyone remember Moe?

Posted by Yaanu  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  03:10 PM
"In summation, I conclude with these final words."
Reminds me of this essay.
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  03:11 PM
And more relevantly, I much agree with Watterson's anti-merchandise feelings, and wish the author of this book would just keel over.
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  03:13 PM
Don't forget, there's a sequel if this one sells well! "Commander Coriander Salamander and 'er Singlehander Bellylander."

Bill Watterson is going to be furious when he finds out about this.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  03:16 PM
Chary, we think alike. I was just saying to pony up the $7.50, especially if he could film it. 😊
Posted by Winona  on  Thu Mar 24, 2005  at  09:43 PM
Sorry guys. No video camera.

And I was referring to the "former fat guy" caias' offer to snort pepper. He said it was worth $3.75, so I figured doing it twice would be worth twice as much...

As for having previously snorted pepper, no.

But some jerk did stick habanero sauce on his finger and wipe it under my nose. Burned for days, dried my nose out, etc. Imagine getting dipped head-first into a drum of mace...

But habanero peppers ARE the strongest on the planet... You can't describe how hot they are to someone who has not tried them.
Posted by Rod  on  Fri Mar 25, 2005  at  07:30 AM
Possibly the illustrator:
Posted by Abinadab  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  10:31 AM
The book is indeed real. I have a copy.

No one here has considered the possibility that Mr. Watterson is not the original inventor of Hamster Huey. He may have borrowed the idea from someone else (perhaps a storyteller friend?). In that case, the original author would be entitled to publish the work without needing to worry about copyright infringement.
Posted by Robo-Pup  on  Mon Sep 05, 2005  at  01:53 PM
Just as an update, this book/expensive pamphlet is still available from Amazon.com. The entertaining review is gone, unfortunately. The vast majority of the positive reviews seem to be from people who live in Gig Harbor or Port Orchard, Wash. (somehow, this isn't surprising in the least). As has been noted, http://www.hamsterhuey.com , http://www.hamsterhueypress.com are both registered to Paul Spadoni of Gig Harbor. And http://www.calvinandhobbesfanclub.com ? Lindsey Noelle (supposedly the webmistress) also apparently hails from Gig Harbor (as indicated by her glowing review of "Hamster" on Amazon.com), but not surprisingly, a WHOIS search reveals that the site is registered to (tada!) Paul Spadoni. I guess that explains why most of the "content" on the site revolves around promoting "Hamster Huey" - any actual Calvin & Hobbes content is just to set up the association - to falsely establish that this is indeed THE "Hamster Huey" of C&H fame.

What is now the firt (earliest) review on Amazon.com is written by a "Randall Spadoni" (hmm, think maybe he's related to Paul Spadoni?), in which he writes "FOR A STORY WRITTEN AROUND A TITLE, this one's pretty good." [my emphasis]. There you have it, folks!
Posted by Ian  on  Sun Oct 01, 2006  at  10:13 PM
Those who claim that the title "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey" cannot be legally protected are mistaken although there is some latitude in the law which allows for satire and parody of otherwise copyrighted works. But I don't think this could be seen to fall into that exception. It does not sell itself as a parody of Watterson's work but rather attempts to pass itself off as the very thing Watterson invented (even though he only invetned the title). It is clearly a blatant ripoff trying to cash in on the success and exposure afforded the name in its original context. Imagine for a moment that the Obi Wan Kenobi character in the original Star Wars movie told Luke about a book of Jedi History called, for arguments sake, the "Jedi Chronicles of Alderon Five" (he didn't but just imagine he did) and someone then writes an actual book in the real world called "The Jedi Chronicles of Alderon Five". Do you think they would get very far before the legal might of the Lucas empire squashed them flat? I doubt it. How is it any different with Watterson's invented book name?
The intention of intellectual property law is to reserve the right of commercial exploitation of a fictional invention to the person who can validly assert a unique right over such invention. Mr Waterson both invented the title "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey" and has asserted his rights by claiming copyright over the Calvin and Hobbes comics in which the references to Hamster Huey appear. The only limitation on such protections (aside from the parody/satire reference) is the extent to which the invented name is in fact generic and consequently not an "invention" at all. To avoid risks of the former most new products adopt an entirely invented name. While the words "hamster" and "huey" on their own are generic the entire made up book title is most certainly not. Consequently that title is as susceptible to protection as are the graphical representations of Calvin and Hobbes themselves.
Posted by Richard Quinn  on  Wed Jan 03, 2007  at  11:37 PM
Hey, take it easy, guys. I know the author of the book. He's a great guy who loves Calvin and Hobbes and just thought it would be fun to make up a story based on the title of Calvin's favorite book. He spent a lot of money printing the book on his own and having a local artist put together some pictures. The point of making the book was not about money. The book was supposed to be a quirky idea for Calvin enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it seems to have generated more ire than nostalgia.
Posted by Scott  on  Thu Nov 01, 2007  at  06:11 PM
It is clearly a blatant ripoff trying to cash in on the success and exposure afforded the name in its original context. Imagine for a moment that the Obi Wan Kenobi character in the original Star Wars movie
Posted by zhuzhu hamster  on  Tue Dec 15, 2009  at  07:14 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.