Q&A-ing with ‘Garfield’ Cartoonist and His Syndicate

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By: E&P Staff

Universal Press Syndicate today posted an interview it conducted with cartoonist Jim Davis as the 30th anniversary of his “Garfield” comic nears.

The strip launched June 19, 1978, in just 41 newspapers — and now appears in more than 2,400.

Some of the Q&As:

Q: You’ve been drawing “Garfield” for 30 years now. Looking back, what was the most exciting event that happened during your career with regards to the strip?

A: While it can’t be considered an event, being embraced by the readers is what I’ve found most exciting about doing the strip. The knowledge that my effort is entertaining someone gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s a heady experience.

Q: What’s the last time you laughed out loud over a comic strip that another cartoonist did?

A: It was just a few weeks ago. The strip is “PVP” (Player vs. Player) by Scott Kurtz. His timing is flawless. “PVP” isn’t in newspapers, it’s online. Some of the sharpest stuff is being done online by some very talented, young artists. They keep me looking over my shoulder.”

Q: Did you ever consider another name for “Garfield” other than the name of your grandfather?

A: I originally planned to call the strip “Jon,” the adventures of a single guy who owns a cat. However, every time I wrote a gag, the cat got the punch line. I couldn’t write around the stupid cat. I finally had to admit that the cat had the dominant personality (and ego), so I named the strip “Garfield,” the adventures of a cat who owns a single guy.

Q: What little known fact about Garfield do you know that many of us don’t? For example, we’ve heard, but we can’t confirm, that in Garfield’s early years there was an increase in people seeking orange tabby cats, making them a much sought after item. How cool is that if it’s true?

A: 30 years ago dogs outnumbered cats in American households, now, cats outnumber dogs. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s something nobody knows (until now): Years ago I did another strip called “U.S. Acres.” When I ended the feature, one character refused to retire. When Jon and Garfield visit the farm today, look in the background. Sometimes Roy the rooster peeks out from behind a tree and waves.

Q: You’ve always been so laid back about people who do parodies or who poke fun at “Garfield.” What gives? Isn’t some righteous anger in order?

A: Hey, if nobody cared, there would be no parodies. I’ll take the parodies.

The full interview with Davis can be seen here.

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