"Garfield" un-furred

Jim Davis has been drawing the comic strip “Garfield” for nigh on 30 years.  Unfortunately, it stopped being funny about 19 years ago, or maybe even earlier than that.  I continue to read it, vainly hoping it can still elicit a laugh, but it never happens.  Sigh.  Talk about your unrequited relationship.

Fortunately Dan Walsh, an enterprising tech manager from Ireland, has figured out a way to inject new life into this moribund franchise.  He does it by removing the main character from the feature entirely.  And every other supporting character, for that matter.  Here’s the result:

 

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It’s called “Garfield Minus Garfield.”  Without Jon Arbuckle’s lasagna-loving feline and slobbery pooch Odie nearby to keep him company, he drifts between “existential crisis and deep despair,” according to this New York Times article.  And it’s wonderfully funny as a result.  Your typical “Garfield” cartoon has two panels of setup before the punchline (which is predictably lame more often than not).  Here, the silence has a recursive effect, making the throwaway lines at the beginning the focus of the humor.  Brilliant!

Is it so awful to derive such enjoyment from a single man’s patheticalness?  (Yes, that’s a real word.  Look it up.)  In this case, absolutely.  Jon Arbuckle is deliberately, unrelentingly, set up to be the fall guy in every single “Garfield” strip.  All Walsh is doing here is focusing our attention on this passive-aggressive, borderline-schizophrenic character.  (And in a way, I think he’s also mocking Davis for never developing him into anything more than a caricature.)

So what does Davis think of all this?  Remarkably, he’s being a good sport about it.

Jim Davis, the cartoonist who created ‘Garfield,’ calls himself an occasional reader of the site, which he calls ‘fascinating.’ He says he is flattered rather than peeved by the imitation.

‘Some of them really work, and some of them work better,’ Mr. Davis said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Davis, who has been drawing Garfield for 30 years, said that ‘Garfield Minus Garfield’ has actually prompted him to take a different look at his own work. He compared Mr. Walsh’s efforts to the cerebral approach of Pogo, the comic strip by Walt Kelly.

‘I think it’s the body of work that makes me laugh — the more you read of these strips, the funnier it gets,’ Mr. Davis said. As for Garfield himself, ‘this makes a compelling argument that maybe he doesn’t need to be there. Less is more.’

Read more about it here.

One Response to “"Garfield" un-furred”

  1. thats weird!!!! I’m so used to having Garfield say something kind of mean to the guy.

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