Posted Mei 12, 2009on:
…………Garfield is a comic strip created by Jim Davis. Published since June 19, 1978, it chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield (named for Davis’ grandfather); his owner, Jon Arbuckle; and the dog, Odie. As of 2007, it is syndicated in roughly 2,580 newspapers and journals and currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip.
Though never mentioned in print, Garfield is set in Muncie, Indiana, the home of Jim Davis, according to the television special Garfield Goes Hollywood. Common themes in the strip include Garfield’s laziness, obsessive eating, and hate of Mondays and diets. The strip’s focus is mostly on the interactions among Garfield, Jon, and Odie; recurring minor characters appear as well.
Originally created with the intentions to “come up with a good, marketable character”, Garfield has become commercially successful, with merchandise earning $750 million to $1 billion annually. In addition to the various merchandise and commercial tie-ins, the strip has spawned several animated television specials, two animated television series, two theatrical feature-length live-action films and three CGI animated direct-to-video movies. Part of the strip’s broad appeal is due to its lack of social or political commentary; though this was Davis’s original intention, he also admitted that his “grasp of politics isn’t strong”
In the 1970s, Davis authored a strip, Gnorm Gnat; it met with mostly negative reviews. One editor said that “his art was good, his gags were great”, but “nobody can identify with bugs”. Davis took his advice and created a new strip with a cat as its main character. The strip originally consisted of four main characters. Garfield, the titular character, was based on the cats Davis was around growing up; he took his name and personality from Davis’s grandfather James A. Garfield Davis, who was, in Davis’s words, “a large cantankerous man”. Jon Arbuckle came from a coffee commercial from the 1950s, and Odie came from a radio advertisement Davis had written for Oldsmobile-Cadillac. The fourth character, Lyman, was Odie’s original owner; he was written in to give Jon someone to talk with. Davis later realized that Garfield and Jon could “communicate nonverbally”, and Lyman was written out. The strip was originally rejected by King Features Syndicate and Chicago Tribune-New York News; United Feature Syndicate, however, accepted it in 1978. It debuted in forty-one newspapers on June 19 of that year. In 1994, Davis’ company, Paws, Inc., purchased all rights to the strips from 1978-1993 from United Feature. The strip is currently distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, however, rights for the strip remain with Paws.
Garfield quickly became a commercial success. In 1978, less than three years after its release, the strip appeared in 850 newspapers and accumulated over $15 million in merchandise. To manage the merchandise, Davis founded Paws, Inc. By 2002, Garfield became the world’s most syndicated strip, appearing in 2570 newspapers with 263 million readers worldwide; by 2004, Garfield appeared in nearly 2600 newspapers and sold from $750 million to $1 billion worth of merchandise in 111 countries.
As it progressed, the strip underwent stylistic changes. The appearance of Garfield was probably the most notable; he underwent a “Darwinian evolution” in which he began walking on his hind legs, “slimmed down”, and “stopped looking […] through squinty little eyes”. His evolution, according to Davis, was to make it easier to “push Odie off the table” or “reach for a piece of pie”.
Davis is no longer the sole artist of Garfield. Though he still writes the stories and rough sketches, other artists handle the inking, coloring, and lettering. Davis otherwise spends most of his time managing the business and merchandising of Garfield.