Most of the people in my generation, and the one just prior, will know immediately that I am referencing Garfield. For those of you who just got to this planet, Garfield is about a fat orange tabby named Garfield who loves lasagna, hates Mondays, and is incredibly lazy. He's usually either torturing the dog, Odie, or mocking his owner, Jon Arbuckle.
I used to love Garfield; I had many of the early collections and it was my second favorite comic after Calvin and Hobbes. But Jim Davis is like the anti-Bill Watterson. Whereas Watterson refused to ever license his characters for anything (those window stickers of Calvin peeing on things/praying to things are totally unlicensed), Davis couldn't sell out fast enough or completely enough.
Garfield has been a Saturday morning cartoon (with dozens of "specials"), a live-action movie (and its sequel, and now an animated 3D movie (with its own pending sequel); they've sold prints, stickers, T-shirts, baseball caps, boxer shorts, CD holders, plush toys, figurines, bedsheets, pillow covers, window curtains, shower curtains, bamboo curtains, mudflaps, magnets, mousepads, coffee mugs, piggy banks, snow globes, bobbleheads, salt and pepper shakers, door stops, clocks, antenna balls, and toilet seat covers.
I did not make any of that up. And that's not even including CafePress, where you can slap one design on everything.
Also unlike Watterson, who knew that he essentially had nothing more to say when it came to Calvin and Hobbes and decided to retire the strip after ten years1, 2008 marks 30 years of daily Garfield comics. And let me tell you, the well ran dry a good decade ago.
It really has gotten to the point where if you've read one Garfield comic, you've read them all. Garfield is now near the bottom of my list of favorite comics. Not quite the bottom, because there are some TRULY shitty comics in circulation these days, but well below Non Sequitur, Get Fuzzy, Zits, and a number of others.
So why am I blogging about Garfield if I think it's tripe?
Well, first of all, there's a team of filmmakers that are re-enacting Garfield cartoons in "live action" shorts. Being only three panels, they then proceed to fill the rest of the time with "tribute" music videos. The music videos themselves are kind of funny, and at least they're also short.
For example, here's the strip from December 03, 1991, with a music video tribute to Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee":
This one's music video "tribute" is a collection of review snippets for the aforementioned Garfield movies set to music. Allow me a moment of predictable cliche in saying: Mee-ouch.
Check out lasagnacat's YouTube account for more.
So as you've seen even by those two strips alone, you've got two recurring themes in the Garfield strip. Garfield's fat and lazy, and Jon is borderline retarded -- or at least socially inadequate -- and Garfield sees fit to comment on it with frequency.
But someone apparently had the brilliant idea that Garfield's commentary was unnecessary. Someone created Garfield minus Garfield, in which they remove Garfield from the comic panels. The result is an astonishingly existential comic starring Jon Arbuckle.
Take, for example, this strip from January 8, 2007:
Retarded, right? It's not even partially funny. It doesn't even make sense ("they're your shirt"?).
But look at what happens when you take Garfield away:
Isn't that the best comic ever? Or how about this one:
As described on the Garfield minus Garfield site:
Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?
Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.
I think Garfield (minus Garfield) just became my favorite comic. And the best part is, with 30 years to cull from, and more being done every day, there will never stop being new ones.
- Fans may not realize it (or want to), but that was in 1995, thirteen years ago. Next year there will be students in high school who were born after C&H ended. But enough about C&H, that's a blog for another day.↩