Saturday, May 11, 2024

"Garfield Minus Garfield," Always Was a Hoot

Dan Walsh was a fan of the comic strip, "Garfield," who happened to notice if you went and simply removed the titular character from the comic you got something fascinating and vaguely disconcerting. The result was Jon Arbuckle seemingly ranting and raving to himself, looking a little extra unhinged than in the strips with Garfield and the gang present. The whole thing gave off a vibe of existential dread. This gave rise to, "Garfield Minus Garfield," which had a ton of fans--including Jim Davis himself, Garfield's creator/daddy. For years the strip was produced and a fun book even came out featuring Walsh's edits and Jim Davis himself getting in on the fun while pointing out that as Garfield is always thinking in his response to Jon, in a way subtracting Garfield only emphasizes how Jon behaves--he'd be acting the same way whether the fat cat were there or not, arguably!

"Garfield Minus Garfield," has pretty much wrapped, but its many strips stand as a testament to how weird and uncomfortable a seemingly happy cartoon about a chunky orange cat can be if you just go and remove that character. The fact Jim Davis saw how Walsh was a fan and then sought to work with him so they could both benefit as opposed to trying to sue Walsh or otherwise acting in a manner that could be mean also shows some kindness and smart thinking on Davis' part.

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