Garfield, as written by Samuel Beckett

typed for your pleasure on 6 August 2006, at 5.38 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Lass dir Zeit’ by die Crazy Girls

Frantic Frightened Frequent readers of ‘Shouting etc etc’ know how much I love that fat orange cartoon cat named Garfield™®. And when I say ‘love’, I of course mean ‘loathe‘. However, in reading the recent b3ta newsletter deposited gently within my Inbox, I now know of exactly six strips of that ‘comic’ series that I actually enjoy. One of the features it had was a link to one of those periodically-funny-but-usually-repellent ytmnd sites, having to do with the death of Garfield™®. I’ll provide the link here in a moment, but first, let the associated Wikipedia entry relate to you its tale.

One storyline, which lasted a week from October 23, 1989 (possibly to coincide with Halloween, although the 31st actually fell the following week), is unique among Garfield strips in that it is not meant to be humorous. It depicts Garfield awakening in a future in which the house is abandoned and he no longer exists. This is revealed to have been a dream of some kind, and ends with this narration:

“An imagination is a powerful tool. It can tint memories of the past, shade perceptions of the present, or paint a future so vivid that it can entice…or terrify, all depending on how we conduct ourselves today.”

Alternatively, some theorize that the end of this storyline actually implies that the rest of the series, the more conventional strips, are all fantasies Garfield is playing out in his head to delude himself from realizing the dark turn his life has taken, as he slowly starves to death in an abandoned house. (emphasis mine) One would assume that his ability to eat more than physically possible in usual strips would be his use of fantasies to stave off his growing hunger and starvation. This theory is arguably supported by the text, as right before Jon and Odie reappear, the narration reads:

“After years of taking life for granted, Garfield is shaken by a horrifying vision of the inevitable process called ‘time.’ He has only one weapon…denial…

This emphasis on “denial,” with the word given its own box in the panel it appears in, and being followed immediately by the earlier text on the power of the imagination, could support the horrifying theory. However, it could also be that denial is what Garfield needed to snap himself out of this dark vision. This is also more likely considering the only way Garfield could have gotten into “a world where he no longer exists” is if that world were a dream. Many, however, attribute the bleak world to the future Ebeneezer Scrooge witnessed in A Christmas Carol, where he beholds the dark and bleak image the world has become because of his negligence and lack of gratitude for other people’s efforts. Still, another point of view on this storyline is that Davis was parodying The Twilight Zone series, which often featured ominous narratives, similar to the use of narration in this set of bleak strips. Another interpretation is that Davis was going through what might have been a period of depression or crisis, and used this set of strips as a form of self-therapy. Lastly, another widely-believed theory is that Garfield was only in the house for a few days before he was rescued in the November 2 and November 3 strips, and the ‘storyline’ was just an introduction to the next week of ‘flashbacks’.

In this age of the Internuts, where lies are the order of the day, and Wikipedia being no exception, I had my doubts as to whether these strips were real. But doubt no more! Simply go to the Official Garfield™® Media Conglomerate Headquarters Web Presence here, set the controls to 1989 October 23, and look for yourself! Chilling, yes, but honestly, I’d have to say these are the funniest Garfield™® strips ever written.

The aforementioned ytmnd site would be here, just so you know. And at this point, I’d normally mention the occurrence of the date that story arc started with a favourite number of mine, but freaked-out fucked up frequent readers of ‘Shouting etc etc’ would’ve already kenned that.

‘I come not to praise Garfield, but to bury him’

Technorati tags: Garfield, hatred, loathing, death, the void, Samuel Beckett, lasagna

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

On Merzbow, or, How I fell in love with a sonic ear surgeon on October 17th, 2007

Off my chest, onto your monitor on October 18th, 2005

4 have spoken to “Garfield, as written by Samuel Beckett”

  1. SafeTinspector writes:

    As a child I purchased many of the early Garfield comic anthologies. IN recent years I paged through several of these.
    I found they were actually somewhat amusing off-and-on throughout the first decade or so. Especially in the early days, when Garfield was ugly, with small eyes, and far more Dom DeLouise than he is now. Still gastronomically hedonistic, he was also more vicious and sadistic.

    On the same token I re-read my beloved Bloom County anthologies and found they were far less hilarious than I remembered them being. Blame it on age, I suppose.

  2. Loving the Machine writes:

    I used to work with a guy who liked to pretend that for every Peanuts strip there was a missing frame that actually made it a funny comic. For instance, he would draw the missing frame with Snoopy asleep on his doghouse, his belly distended after having eaten Linus.

  3. Davecat writes:

    Ah yes, those little, narrow books. ‘Garfield Gains Weight’, ‘Garfield Fires a Pit Pony Into The Heart of the Sun’, ‘Garfield Divides By Zero’, etc etc. Weren’t there like 400 of those books? There probably are now.
    The thing that really gets me about Garfield and Jim Davis is that yeah, they were cynical and (arguably) edgier at the outset, but then, somewhere along the line, all that cynicism got thrown out the window in order to make the strip more palatable for ‘everyone’s’ tastes. I’ve no idea if Jim Davis neutered himself, or if he was forced into it by the Syndication Powers That Be, but personally, I find that sort of behaviour offensive. As Morrissey once said, ‘If you pander to the public, art can never exist.’

    LtM –
    Now that’s Comedy. 🙂

  4. SafeTinspector writes:

    DC: I agree, really. The act of ‘the sell out’ is as reprehensible in comics as it is in any other endeavor.

    I know at some point in the late eighties Jim Davis ceased to actually do the drawing for the vast majority of Garfield comics. He hired a staff, opened a studio (up till then he had been working from an office in his home) and became more of a brand manager than an artist.
    This corresponds closely with the second redesign of Garfield’s appearance, I believe. (Garfield’s eyes started tiny, with a saggy face. Then the eyes got bigger, and the face was more round. Lastly, the eyes became HUGE and the head became elongated. He also began walking upright a lot more. Perhaps he was evolving into some form of bland, furry humanity.)

    LtM:The missing frame game! Ah, now I have a new passtime.

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