Happy 45th Anniversary, "Garfield"!by GoComics Team
Happy birthday, "Garfield"!
It's been 45 years since legendary cartoonist Jim Davis introduced "Garfield" to the world. Since June 19, 1978, this lasagna-loving feline has become a household name thanks to his witty one-liners and insatiable appetite.
To commemorate this milestone anniversary, we had the opportunity to catch up with Davis himself as he celebrates the enduring legacy of the comic strip.
What do you think it is about "Garfield" that has made it so popular with readers—and editors—for so long?
I think that "Garfield" lets us feel a little better about ourselves. We live in a time when we’re made to feel guilty about overeating, oversleeping, and not exercising. Garfield does all of that and he’s cool with it; thereby relieving our guilt! That kind of familiarity can lead to affection over time.
What has been your favorite part about creating this strip and these characters for 45 years?
I love humor and I love to draw. When I work on the strip the clock stops. It’s flat out play for me. I feel that if I’m having fun doing the strip, people will have fun reading it.
Do you have a favorite strip that you’ve created? If yes, what one?
Yes. Nearly 40 years ago I was about to pitch a gag that was, well, silly, when my assistant, Valette, convinced me to give it a try. The response was amazing! The newspapers got hundreds of calls and letters (back then) from readers saying how much they enjoyed the gag.
How has your process for creating the strips changed over the last 45 years?
The process has changed dramatically. In 2011 we took everything digital. My Cintiq is now my sketchpad for roughs as well as my Strathmore two-ply Bristol board for inking. Now I can work in real time with my assistants and Andrews McMeel without waiting for that mail thing.
If you launched "Garfield" today, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. Garfield is simple: he eats, he sleeps. The maturity of the feature has been a process, not part of a formula. I occasionally add new situations and characters to see if they resonate with the readers. If they do, I let them find their footing with the other characters and storylines. If they don’t, they go away... like Lyman.
What is one thing readers don’t know about Garfield?
He’s a huge Snoopy fan.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about "Garfield"?
“Garfield makes me laugh.” That’s what I work for each day. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What do you hope to see in years to come with "Garfield"?
I hope to see the continuation of broad avenues of distribution for all comics worldwide. Andrews McMeel has done a stellar job of maintaining a large readership with GoComics. GoComics not only features established comics, but tomorrow’s great comics as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add about the strip, or about your life as a cartoonist?
It’s great work if you can get it...