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.
Table of contents
Debuting June 19, 1978 (also considered Garfield's birthday), 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.
- 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, although 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." 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.
- Jon Arbuckle: their 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)
- Pooky: Garfield's huggable teddy bear. First appearance was October 23, 1978. The strip shows Garfield searching through Jon Arbuckles'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 was originally meant to be owned by Jon's parents.
- Mom: Jon's mother who's always cooking up a meal.
- 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. Fans and regular readers of the comic strip cite a rumor that Lyman was removed from the strip because of the suggestion that he was actually engaging in a homosexual relationship with Jon Arbuckle. Jim Davis has dismissed this rumor as nonsense; he has stated that Lyman no longer appears in the strip because Davis didn't find the character to be very interesting. 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, 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 never succeeding.
- 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.
- Stretch is Garfield's rubber chicken. Jon gave it to him on his birthday.
- Ellen is a local girl whom Jon often trys 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.
- Garfield's otherwise boring life is occasionally enriched by spiders, who sometimes walk around the house or dangle from the ceiling – and whom he finds amusing to squish using a rolled-up newspaper. 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. This, of course, is impossible (as they don't exist), much to Garfield's frustration.
- Three trusty household appliances in the comic are the bathroom scale, the TV and the alarm clock. The three objects have quite different personalities: While the scale usually allows itself to be quite cynical and crude about Garfield's overweight state, the clock sometimes retracts from ringing loud and waking Garfield, since he tends to pummel the disturbing factors. The TV also speaks to Garfield by itself on occasion.
- 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".
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 promote conformity, discourage dissent. The only disagreement they 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 one episode, they attempted to take over his show by making it more educational, but Garfield attempted to foil them by commenting that they knew nothing about gazorgenplats, something he made up. The TV producers (in the show) called his bluff when they created the Gazorgenplat Show, and gave it Garfield's time slot.
- 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, and two complete strangers got trapped in the blinds. After this, Jon bought Venetian blinds.
- 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.
- 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 which serves as an exxageration of used-car lots. Jon always gets conned by the overly clever and sneaky salesman, while Garfield knows it all along. It's paralleled very in very clever ways by the used refridgerator 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, 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. Every december, for the whole month, every Garfield strip focuses on Christmas. 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. In January or February, snow or snowball themed jokes are abound. In the summer you'll find beach or heat themed jokes. These are all humorous without exception because they are each ridiculous exxagerations of everyday events and people, and are an excellent commentary of everyday life with funny visuals.
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 (Which 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 books: introduces the "Garfield format" in publishing as its books are horizontally oriented to match comic strip dimensions
- His comic strips: published in over 2570 papers in the world, a world record
- Garfield and Friends (Animated cartoon series, 1988–1994)
- 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
- Garfield: The Movie (2004) – Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield.