THE WORLD’S attachment to “Calvin and Hobbes,” and the connection to its creator, remains strong and passionate nearly two decades after Bill Watterson took his boy and his tiger and went home, leaving the comics page ever since — till this week.

Combine that with how cleverly Watterson and Stephan Pastis orchestrated the long-retired cartoonist’s return to the comics this week — as an unannounced artist for three days within Pastis’ strip “Pearls Before Swine” — and this officially became an “event” within the entertainment world.

“It’s just massive,” Pastis tells Comic Riffs on Saturday, calling it “the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

“I mean, I knew there would be a big reaction,” the “Pearls” cartoonist says, “but didn’t know it would be this big.”

On his blog, Pastis offered a highly engaging first-person account of how he came to collaborate with Watterson. In it, the “Pearls” cartoonist shared his response to Watterson’s suggestion that they team up for several cartoons: “Dear Bill, I will do whatever you want, including setting my hair on fire.”

As of Saturday morning, Pastis had set the digital world ablaze. His Watterson tale was the No.-1 blogpost worldwide on WordPress, buoying him to the morning’s top blog overall. Update: Pastis tells me his personal blog’s Watterson post has been viewed more than 3-million times.

Meanwhile, his syndicate’s website,, was barely holding up beneath the sudden flood of visitors. (Universal Uclick is the syndicate for both “Pearls” and “Calvin and Hobbes.”) Update: On Saturday, the GoComics site received 6.1-million page views, syndicate chief John Glynn tells Comic Riffs — a spike of 4-million more than the previous Saturday.

“People are freaked out, touched, stunned,” Pastis says. “I think it was quite the surprise for people waking up this morning. The comments to the blog and Facebook post will give you an idea of their reaction.”

Wrote one commenter on Pastis’ blog: “Two of my favorite cartoonists collaborating together. And then you’ve got to consider that it’s Bill Freakin’ Watterson back on the comic scene. You are wondrous to get to do something like this. So much love.”

And another commenter wrote that “it seemed too good to be true. Brilliant. Just an awesome week Stephan and Bill. Made me smile every day.” (To read Watterson’s thoughts on the collaboration, just click HERE.)