Garfield

From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Garfield (disambiguation).
The character design sketch of Garfield.
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The character design sketch of Garfield.

Garfield is a popular comic strip created by Jim Davis featuring the cat Garfield, the less-than-brilliant pet dog Odie, and their socially inept owner Jon Arbuckle. The character is named after Davis's grandfather, James Garfield Davis, who was named after former United States president James Garfield.

Contents

Overview

Debuting June 19, 1978 (also considered Garfield's birthday, the strips on June 19th always show Garfield celebrating his birthday on that day), the syndicated comic strip pokes fun at pet owners and their relationship with their pets often portraying the pet as the true master of the home. Garfield also appeals because of the way he struggles with very human problems, such as diets, hatred of Mondays, apathy, boredom, and so on.

Over the course of the strip, Garfield's behavior has became more human and less cat-like. His appearance has also evolved, initially being drawn as grossly obese with flabby jowls and small round eyes. Later, his appearance was slimmed down and his eyes enlarged. By 1983, his familiar appearance—featuring oval-shaped eyes—had taken shape. By this time, Garfield had begun walking on two feet, and the strip changed to more of an emphasis on sitcom situations (Garfield making fun of his owner's stupidity, Jon's inability to pick up girls) and less on the foibles of cats. A number of the strip's readers feel that the quality of the writing has lessened, even as the artwork has retained a consistent level of quality (although Davis is no longer the sole, or even principal, artist).

The comic strip was turned into a cartoon special for television in 1982 called Here Comes Garfield. Actor Lorenzo Music, previously known as the voice of Carlton the doorman on the show Rhoda, was hired to portray the voice of Garfield. Soul singer Lou Rawls provided musical accompaniment. Twelve television specials were made (through 1990) as well as a television series, Garfield and Friends, which ran from 1988 to 1994.

A live-action movie version of the comic strip, Garfield: The Movie (with a computer-animated Garfield and live-action Odie), debuted in the USA on June 11, 2004. Bill Murray provided the voice of Garfield, making him the fourth actor to play the part (Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers voiced the role in a cat food commercial, and an unnamed Music soundalike was used in another TV spot). Prior to Murray being cast, it was widely reported that actor John Goodman had been picked to provide Garfield's voice for the film.

Characters

Primary characters

  • Garfield: fat orange cat with distinctive black stripes and an attitude. He hates Mondays (not applicable if it's also his birthday), loves to eat and sleep (both to amazing amounts), watch TV, and play jokes on Jon and Odie. His favorite food is lasagna, and he hates raisins and spinach. He has been seen trying to catch and (presumably) eat birds, although he does not eat mice. He also hates spiders.
  • Odie: loveable but dopey yellow-furred, brown-eared dog constantly panting with his very large tongue, and the only character without a "voice" (though he was once shown to be thinking "I'm hungry"). Often kicked off the table by Garfield or the victim of some practical joke. Odie's original owner was Lyman, a friend and roommate to Jon Arbuckle. However, Lyman disappeared in 1983 and Odie became a pet to Jon. Odie is, to Garfield, a complete slobbering idiot (though it's not the actual case since Odie did manage to take revenge on Garfield occasionally, and Garfield usually cannot notice it). He is rarely seen without his giant tongue and drooling. He is also the sucker to Garfield's antics such as being kicked off a table and being clobbered at a distance. Recently Odie seems to be walking on two feet more often. He first appeared on August 8, 1978.
  • Jonathan Q. "Jon" Arbuckle: Garfield and Odie's owner. A total nerd and clumsy individual who is extremely unlucky in the world of dating and coolness. Primary fodder and conversation partner to Garfield and is often the butt of his jokes. Was (possibly still is, due to it never being contradicted) a cartoonist, but this reference has not been seen since the early days of the comic strip. His full name has been revealed as Jonathan Q. Arbuckle in a Christmas strip.
  • Arlene: Garfield's on-and-off girlfriend. A thin pink cat who seems to be the one living thing in the world who can successfully crack jokes at Garfield on a regular basis. She has lips and a very thin neck. Earlier in the series she also had a gap between her teeth; she also appeared more often then than now.
  • Pooky: Garfield's huggable teddy bear. First appearance was October 23, 1978. The strip shows Garfield searching through Jon Arbuckle's bottom drawer, finding Pooky, and adopting him as his own.
  • Nermal: cute kitten who flaunts his cuteness (the cutest kitten in the world, he says), which annoys Garfield immensely, usually resulting in him shipping Nermal to Abu Dhabi. Often comes in unannounced, much to Garfield's chagrin. He is owned by Jon's parents, and when we see him, it is usually because Jon has to babysit him. Surprisingly, we never see him on Jon's parents' farm.
  • Mom: Jon's mother who's always cooking up a meal, and sending Garfield the most uncomfortable sweaters.
  • Dad: Jon's father who tends the family farm.
  • Doc Boy: Jon's only brother who tends to the pigs on the farm, and as much a loser as Jon. Resents being called Doc Boy. He is apparently younger than Jon.
  • Grandma: She is a Harley-riding, leather-wearing old lady. She loves Jon and Garfield, and occasionally makes appearances throughout the series. The most is revealed about her in Garfield's Christmas special, where it is revealed that her husband has passed away and she talks about her life with him.
  • Lyman: Friend of Jon's who lived with him for a while and was the original owner of Odie. He disappeared from the comic in 1983 and his disappearance was never fully elaborated upon. His last appearance in the strip was a cameo in the logo panel for the Sunday strip published on June 19, 1988. A webcomic called Melonpool involved this character in one of its storylines (http://www.melonpool.com/d/20030217.html), showing why he disappeared from the Garfield strips in the first place. Of course, since Melonpool is a spoof piece, it has no continuity with Davis' work and is just for kicks with a disclaimer attached. Recently, Davis was forced to directly address the issue of 'What happened to Lyman?'. According to Davis, Lyman's original purpose was to be someone who Jon could actually talk to and express other ideas—a role more and more taken over by Garfield himself. Hence he was removed without explanation.
  • Irma: waitress and owner of "Irma's Diner," a diner occasionally patronized by Jon and Garfield. The food, service, and mental stability of her restaurant is questionable. For instance, her idea of a "chicken surprise" is her coming up to the table wearing a rubber chicken mask and saying "SURPRISE!"
  • Dr. Liz Wilson: Garfield's veterinarian and long-time crush of Jon Arbuckle. She occasionally dates him, but these outings always become disasters (often thanks to Garfield tagging along for the ride).
  • Herman Post: Jon Arbuckle's mailman. He is constantly being tormented by Garfield, and perpetually trying to find a way to deliver the mail safely, but almost never succeeding.

Secondary characters

  • Hubert and Reba are Jon's stereotypical "grumpy old neighbors."
  • Mrs. Feeny is another neighbor, who has never appeared in the strip. Garfield likes tormenting her little dog (who has also never appeared) and as such Mrs. Feeny is always complaining to Jon about Garfield over the phone.
  • Ellen is a local girl whom Jon often tries to go out with. She has never appeared in the strip, but many strips focus on Jon phoning Ellen asking for a date. She usually asks him to do something very stupid first, before refusing.
  • The Caped Avenger is Garfield's alter ego, which mimicks Superman. However, The Caped Avenger is a coward, and runs off when in danger. Usually, danger is represented by an overly large dog.
  • Jon's house is also inhabited by mice (unnamed, though one of their first appearances shows one of them giving Garfield a business card for "Herman Vermin"), enjoying a quite full social life—to much annoyance of Jon. Garfield, however, cannot be bothered to chase them, and according to him they tend to either bribe or blackmail him to stay so. One particular mouse in the comic strip started appearing in 1984, and was named Squeak by Garfield, but he looked no different from the other mice. The way you know Garfield is talking to Squeak in particular is when there are no other mice around to confuse him with.
  • Garfield's otherwise boring life is occasionally enriched by spiders, who sometimes walk around the house or dangle from the ceiling—and who he squishes with rolled-up newspapers. This, of course, leads to several attempts by the spiders to get back at Garfield—unsuccessful in most cases.
  • When on diet, Garfield often has hallucinations, taking shape in walking food with limbs and a provocative manner of encouraging Garfield to eat them.
  • Three trusty household appliances in the comic are the talking bathroom scale, the TV and the alarm clock. The three objects have quite different personalities: The scale usually allows itself to be quite cynical and crude about Garfield's overweight state. But sometimes when it does so, it gets smashed or thrown into a trash can. A cover on one of the Garfield paperbacks show Garfield putting a foot on the scale and it heaving with agony. The clock usually retracts from ringing loud and waking Garfield, since he tends to smash it into pieces. The TV also speaks to Garfield by itself on occasion, usually trying to persuade Garfield into continuing to watch it or turning it off. Once, when Garfield fell asleep in front of the TV, the TV yelled at him to turn it off.
  • Clive is Garfield's invisible friend. He is another way through which Garfield plays pranks on and irritates Jon and Odie.
  • Binky the Clown is a television personality noted for his extremely loud and piercing greetings, most notably "HEEEEEEEY, KIDS!"
  • Stretch is Garfield's rubber chicken, who was given to Garfield on his 6th birthday. It only appeared for a week after, yet makes cameo appearences from time to time, mainly used as a weapon against Jon.
  • Garfield loves to eat sparrows, and has many attempts to catch them (most of the time failing), most noteably his "barbeque bird bath" and his various bird disguises.
  • A tree is always trying to encourage Garfield to climb him, always ending in Garfield falling for its "same old lies". In the beginning, he sits on a tree branch, but more recently finds himself gripping the branch by his front paws and dangling.
  • A recurring plot in the strip is Garfield eating Jon's various pet fish, which causes Jon to get mad. In an attempt to prevent Garfield from eating his second pet fish one week, he lets Garfield name it. Ironically, Second Helping (the fish Garfield named) lasted to the end of the strip, an event very rare in a Garfield comic. Garfield once had a staring contest with a goldfish, causing his eyeballs to dry out.
  • A little chick that looks up to Garfield and calls him "Daddy" (it was originally "Mommy" until Garfield explained to the little guy what gender was). He is a nuisance to Garfield who, oddly enough, is reluctant to eat the little guy (for some strange reason, the thought just never crossed his mind). The chick doesn't like lasagna.
  • A big, vicious dog often enjoys barking at Garfield. His rear end is rarely seen. He is almost always seen next to a "Beware of Dog" sign, hence the name he's been given by several fans (another one is Chain Dog).

Television series only

  • Cactus Jake a stereotypical cowboy who happens to be a friend of Jon. He was seen only in the TV series and had a habit of saying Garfield's name wrong.
  • Al G. Swindler is, as his name suggests, a swindler, often conning Jon whenever he can. He only appeared in the TV series, and at the end of the episodes he was in, he would usually say, "It's getting tougher and tougher to make an honest buck these days."
  • The Buddy Bears are a trio of annoying singing bear cubs who encourage viewers to "always agree with the group" (similar to the Get-Along Gang). Their names are Bobby, Billy, and Bernie. The only disagreement they've ever had was over pizza toppings, which supposedly no one can agree on. They only appeared in the TV series, and Garfield has remarked that he "hates Buddy Bear episodes."
  • In the Garfield TV series, Binky the Clown became more of a regular, and would modify his greeting to suit who it was he was greeting, such as "HEEEEEEEY, CAT!" He also occasionally had his own segment on the show, called Screaming With Binky.
  • Squeak's TV show counterpart went by the name Floyd and was able to be told apart by being the only mouse with oval-shaped eyes like the other characters. The mouse character in the movie was named Louis.

Themes and Settings

Usually, the standard setting is Garfield standing on a table or floor, always flat. Around 80% of the comic takes place as such. But occasionally, Garfield ventures elsewhere. When Garfield goes somewhere else, he'll usually spend the week in that area (or even two).

  • The TV Chair is one of Garfield's favorite places, where he entertains himself with shows such as Binky the Clown and others. Many of the shows mentioned are absurd and stupid, and give Jim Davis an opportunity to comment on pop-culture.
  • Outside, Garfield has confrontations with various characters, such as dogs (more vicious than Odie), birds, worms, and even conscious flowers. "Beware of Dog" signs are abound, and Garfield often tries to torment the chained-up dogs as some kind of revenge. Garfield tries to capture birds in the bird fountain, often unsuccessfully. He finds it a lot easier to capture flowers though, and often eats them.
  • Early in the series, Garfield would spend time on the window ledge and always get trapped in the roll-up blinds This culminated when at one point, Garfield, Odie, Jon, two complete strangers, and even a street lamp (Odie had to go) got trapped in the blinds. After this, Jon bought Venetian blinds (which Garfield, somehow, still manages to get stuck in).
  • Up the tree is another area where Garfield often traps himself. Garfield knows not to climb, but ironically can never overcome the urge. A firefighter usually has to save him on the last day of the week.
  • Occasionally, Garfield will be taken to the vet's office, a place he loathes. In this setting, Jon always tries to get a date with Liz, the vet, and usually fails badly, his failures causing Garfield to snicker.
  • Sometimes Jon takes Garfield to the park. Jon tries to meet girls in the park, but always fails miserably and humorously.
  • Vacations are taken by Jon and his pets every so often, usually to exotic places. Early in the series, Garfield had to sneak along in the suitcase, but at some point Jon gave up and took him along as an equal. These are funny because they portray Jon's inability to get along with people normally. They also introduce new scenarios, which are usually rare in this strip.
  • The Beach is frequented by Garfield and company, and is another site at which Jon fails at finding girls. Garfield hates the beach simply because it has no TV, and is too hot. This theme will often show up in the summer.
  • Irma's diner was visited often early on, but not as much as the series progressed. Irma is a chirpy, but slow-witted and unattractive waitress/manager, and one of Jon's few friends. The food is terrible, and is the center of most of the jokes, along with the poor management.
  • The window is a setting showing Garfield looking from inside the house, making comments on events going on outside.
  • Garfield sometimes tries to go into show business, attempting to entertain various town cats and dogs (unseen) while on the fence at night. This often results in Garfield failing and being pelted with tomatoes. At one point, the 'patrons' were so sick of his act that they shot fire arrows into the wooden fence, which, of course, resulted in it burning to the ground. Garfield's temporary replacement, a plastic flamingo, just 'didn't feel the same'.
  • Jon periodically visits his parents and brother on the farm. This results in comical displays of stupidity by Jon and his family, and their interactions.
  • The used car lot is an entertaining scene that parodies the business. Jon always gets conned by the overly clever and sneaky salesman, while Garfield knows it all along. This is paralleled in the used refrigerator store and used christmas tree lot which appear later.
  • Other themes include Garfield's week-long interactions with any one minor character, event, or thing, such as Nermal, Arlene, the mailman, the alarm clock, the scale, the TV, Pooky, spiders, mice, coffee, hamburgers (chicken, early on), balls of yarn, rubber chickens, dieting, shedding, pie throwing, fishing, Mondays, Clive (Garfield's invisible friend), lasagna, The Caped Avenger, sweaters, colds, etc. Some more unique themes are things like "Garfield's believe it or don't," "Garfield's Law," "Garfield's History," which show the world, history, and science from Garfield's view. Most of December is spent preparing for Christmas, with a predictable focus on presents. Every week before June 19th, the strip focuses on his birthday, which Garfield dreads. Occasionally the strip celebrates Halloween as well with scary-themed jokes. Jokes are introduced seasonally, with snow-related gags common in January or February and beach or heat themed jokes in the summer.

Garfield marks his territory

  • His album: Am I Cool or What?
  • His suction-cupped kitties: "Stuck on You" phenomenon across America and takes several years for production met the demand. The concept was created after an idea trade with Scott Adams in 1990, which involved what type of object could hold the thing other than sticky items.
  • His comic strips: published in over 2570 papers in the world, second to "Peanuts."

Television

  • Garfield and Friends (Animated cartoon series, 19881994)
  • Garfield Gets a Life (animated special) 1991
  • Garfield's Feline Fantasies' (animated special) 1990
  • Garfield's Thanksgiving (animated special) 1989
  • Garfield's Babes and Bullets' (animated special) 1989
  • Garfield: His 9 Lives (animated special) 1988
  • Garfield Goes Hollywood (animated special) 1987
  • A Garfield Christmas Special (animated special) 1987
  • Garfield in Paradise (animated special) 1986
  • Garfield's Halloween Adventure (animated special) 1985
  • Garfield in the Rough (animated special)1984
  • Garfield on the Town (animated special) 1983
  • Here Comes Garfield (animated special) 1982

Books

Numbered Paperbacks

These books, generally released twice a year, contain reprints of the comic as it appears in newspapers daily. Printed in black and white, each book covers approximately six months of comics, including the larger weekend comics (although without color).

The titles of these books were styled as double entendres, often alluding to Garfield's weight or his habits. These books introduced the "Garfield format" in publishing, whereby the books are horizontally oriented to match comic strip dimensions. They are currently being reprinted in a larger format, showing the Sunday strips to be formatted in a size as they usually are, instead of shrunken-down to meet the book size. The new versions of the books will also be released in paperback only, and in full color (for every cartoon, not just the Sunday strips) for the first time.

  1. Garfield At Large: His First Book 1980
  2. Garfield Gains Weight: His Second Book 1981
  3. Garfield Bigger than Life: His Third Book 1981
  4. Garfield Weighs In: His Fourth Book 1982
  5. Garfield Takes the Cake: His Fifth Book 1982
  6. Garfield Eats His Heart Out: His Sixth Book 1983
  7. Garfield Sits Around the House: His Seventh Book 1983
  8. Garfield Tips the Scales: His Eighth Book 1984
  9. Garfield Loses His Feet: His Nineth Book 1984
  10. Garfield Makes it Big: His 10th Book 1985
  11. Garfield Rolls On: His 11th Book 1985
  12. Garfield Out to Lunch: His 12th Book 1986
  13. Garfield Food for Thought: His 13th Book 1987
  14. Garfield Swallows His Pride: His 14th Book 1987
  15. Garfield World Wide: His 15th Book 1988
  16. Garfield Rounds Out: His 16th Book 1988
  17. Garfield Chews the Fat: His 17th Book 1989
  18. Garfield Goes to Waist: His 18th Book 1990
  19. Garfield Hangs Out: His 19th Book 1990
  20. Garfield Takes Up Space: His 20th Book 1991
  21. Garfield Says a Mouthful: His 21st Book 1991
  22. Garfield By the Pound: His 22nd Book 1992
  23. Garfield Keeps His Chins Up: His 23rd Book 1992
  24. Garfield Takes His Licks: His 24th Book 1993
  25. Garfield Hits the Big Time: His 25th Book 1993
  26. Garfield Pulls his Weight: His 26th Book 1994
  27. Garfield Dishes it Out: His 27th Book 1995
  28. Garfield Life in the Fat Lane: His 28th Book 1995
  29. Garfield Tons of Fun: His 29th Book 1996
  30. Garfield Bigger and Better: His 30th Book 1996
  31. Garfield Hams it Up: His 31st Book 1997
  32. Garfield Thinks Big: His 32nd Book 1997
  33. Garfield Throws His Weight Around: His 33rd Book 1998
  34. Garfield Life to the Fullest: His 34th Book 1999
  35. Garfield Feeds the Kitty: His 35th Book 1999
  36. Garfield Hogs the Spotlight: His 36th Book 2000
  37. Garfield Beefs Up: His 37th Book 2000
  38. Garfield Gets Cookin': His 38th Book 2001
  39. Garfield Eats Crow: His 39th Book 2003
  40. Garfield Survival of the Fattest: His 40th Book 2004
  41. Garfield Older and Wider: His 41st Book 2005

Movie

External links

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