Congratulations to creator Jim Davis on the 45th anniversary of Garfield. The strip made its debut on June 19, 1978. Check it out on GoComics. Jim took some time to participate in a Q&A in honor of the anniversary. Get to know him a little better by reading the interview below.
What do you think it is about Garfield that has made it so popular with readers – and editors – for so long?
I think that Garfield let’s us feel a little better about ourselves. We live in a time when we’re made to feel guilty about overeating, oversleeping and not exercising. Garfield does all of that and he’s cool with it; thereby relieving our guilt! That kind of familiarity can lead to affection over time.
What has been your favorite part about creating this strip and these characters and for 45 years?
I love humor and I love to draw. When I work on the strip the clock stops. It’s flat out play for me. I feel that if I’m having fun doing the strip, people will have fun reading it.
Do you have a favorite strip that you’ve created? If yes, what one?
Yes. nearly 40 years ago I was about to pitch a gag that was, well, silly, when my assistant, Valette, convinced me to give it a try. The response was amazing! The newspapers got hundreds of calls and letters (back then) from readers saying how much they enjoyed the gag.
How has your process for creating the strips changed over the last 45 years?
The process has changed dramatically. In 2011 we took everything digital. My Cintiq is now my sketchpad for roughs as well as my Strathmore 2 ply Bristol board for inking. Now I can work in real time with my assistants and Andrews McMeel without waiting for that mail thing.
If you launched Garfield today, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. Garfield is simple; he eats, he sleeps. The maturity of the feature has been a process, not part of a formula. I occasionally add new situations and characters to see if they resonate with the readers. If they do, I let them find their footing with the other characters and storylines. If they don’t, they go away… like Lyman.
What is one thing readers don’t know about Garfield?
He’s a huge Snoopy fan.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about Garfield?
“Garfield makes me laugh.” That’s what I work for each day. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What do you hope to see in years to come with Garfield?
I hope to see the continuation of broad avenues of distribution for all comics worldwide. Andrews McMeel has done a stellar job of maintaining a large readership with GoComics. GoComics not only features established comics, but tomorrow’s great comics as well.