Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28

Today's the birthday of Jon Arbuckle, the owner of the world's most sarcastic cat, Garfield. (Jon happens to share the same birthdate as his creator, cartoonist Jim Davis.) Garfield has now been around for over 30 years, and I'd have to say it's the most influencial comic strip of my generation.
You might like Calvin and Hobbes or the Far Side better, but where are they now? Where are their knockoffs and spinoffs? Where are their cartoons and CGI movies, their mugs and plush toys and fruit snacks? If you have a Meijer near you, you can get Garfield spaghetti rings. Take that, Dilbert!

32 years is a long time to play second banana to an overweight cat, but he continues to grin and bear it. And he's been rewarded for his patience in the comic strip; this year, the perennial bachelor finally has a steady romantic relationship with Dr Liz, the veterinarian.
The accusations about Garfield the comic strip spinning its wheels will persist until the strip's end; I believe, at that point, Garfield's artistic and philosophical merit will be re-evaluated. And it will all hinge on Jon's journey.

(Fun fact: Garfield creator Jim Davis is the uncle of Jonathan Davis, lead singer of Korn! Ginchy!)

A few years ago, some Garfield readers began digitally extracting Garfield the cat out of his own comic strip. "Arbuckle: Garfield through Jon's eyes" is a webcomic where the thoughts balloons are removed from the strips, giving a glimpse of what Jon actually sees and hears in his world. Even more popular has been "Garfield Minus Garfield", where the comic strip becomes Jon soliloquizing, ranting to no one. Efforts like these hint at the madness hidden within the comedy and aphorisms.
Here's what one of those beloved Garfield TV specials look like with the "without" treatment:

Happy Birthday, Jon. You deserve a fruit snack of your own...

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