Garfield Comic Strip Review for Week of June 13, 2016

Garfield is probably my spirit animal, not because of the actual content or character, but due to what he represents. Jim Davis, upon seeing the overwhelming popularity of Peanut’s Snoopy, decided he wanted to create a marketable comic strip about a cat. He used his years of advertising experience and created a character based on the epitome of ‘marketable’. There’s absolutely no love in the character, but that’s part of the charm. As an advertising guy, I can learn a lot from Davis’s approach to his global IP. Garfield is an asshole.

I could expand on all of the brilliant Garfield remixes, like “G-G”, “Square Root of” or “Lasagna Cat”, but for the sake of this review I am solely going to focus on the brilliance of last week’s story arc. My understanding of Davis’s process is that he comes up with a series of ideas and now has a team that actually draws and creates the comic. They are so incredibly lifeless that the strip tends to emulate life. Last week’s story arc really captures the banality of life at times.

Story arcs in Garfield are few and far between, most of the time it’s just one-offs. The most famous Garfield story line is a Halloween arc from 1989. It’s spooky and may indicate Garfield is dead, and this week’s arc is somewhat similar in its eeriness.

Here is the story arc, for context:

© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© Paws, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The arc begins with Garfield ‘forgetting why he walked into a room’. His solution is to walk into the room he came from to try and remember. Upon walking into the original room he says “Now I can’t remember why I walked into THIS room.” There’s an obvious contradiction here, as Garfield must have remembered why he walked into the original room, because he remembers not remembering. This is confusing and really sets the tone for the rest of the week. At the conclusion of the comic we learn that the entire week’s story line is simply a long running gag aimed at Garfield’s birthday. He’s getting old — that’s the joke.

Garfield abuses Jon, loses his eyesight, smashes a spider and murders the punchline. Perhaps Jim Davis is coming to terms with his demise or maybe he’s conflicted and has begun to forget the purpose of the comic. Seeing as how Garfield was only ever created to make money, a character devoid of a true purpose, maybe Davis regrets how he spent his time and fears no one will remember him in the future. The last panel of the final comic shows Garfield unable to read his own notes, perhaps a reflection upon Davis being unable to read his own comic strip.

Memory is a funny thing and age begets reflection. This week in Garfield is a sorrowful reminder that we all have an expiration point, whether it’s physical death or the death of our Ego.

8/10

@rw

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