Long before people spent hours on the internet enjoying videos of cats knocking over glasses, being surprised by cucumbers, or showcasing their grumpy resting faces, the world was introduced to a sassy tabby with an insatiable love for lasagna. After 40 years, the lazy but lovable cat has continued to gain a massive following and spawned several comics, animated series, and feature films. Do you know who this original grumpy cat is?
Garfield, created by cartoonist Jim Davis, made his debut appearance in June 19, 1978 with United Feature Syndicate. By 2013, the self-titled comic was syndicated in roughly 2,580 newspapers and journals, and held the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip. The long-running comic strip centers around a cynical and slightly overweight tabby named Garfield. Born in the kitchen of Mamma Leoni’s Italian Restaurant, Garfield enjoyed a steady diet of lasagna. Unfortunately, his never-ending hunger was quickly depleting the restaurants supply. After being placed in a pet shop, Garfield was adopted by a geeky and socially awkward man named Jon Arbuckle.
Along with Jon’s dimwitted pet dog Odie, Garfield regularly causes mischief and frequently makes Jon the butt of all his jokes. While making wise cracks about Jon’s unpopularity with women and his ridiculous fashion sense, Garfield also needlessly teases Odie on his utter lack of intelligence. Throughout the series, Garfield is noted for his sarcastic attitude and extreme laziness. A recurring theme is also his passion for food, particularly lasagna, pizza, and ice cream. All of which Jon begrudgingly supplies him with despite the financial toll it so clearly takes on him. Several comic strips I introduce a series of alter egos fro Garfield including Amoeba Man, Super Garfield, and the Caped Avenger. Odie likewise would assume various identities such as Bungee Dog, Trapdoor Dog, and Warm-Up Dog.
While Garfield derives much pleasure from teasing both Odie and Jon, his actions toward the two on rare occasions showcases his love for them. He particularly reveals his sensitive side in his affection toward his beloved teddy bear Pooky. In addition to various merchandise and commercial tie-ins, Garfield has spawned several animated television specials, two animated television series, two feature-length live-action/CGI animated films, and three fully CGI animated direct-to-video movies. BOOM! Studios also currently produces a monthly Garfield comic book, written by Garfield and Friends’ Mark Evanier with illustrations by Davis's long-time assistant Gary Barker.
No matter how many viral cat videos take over the internet, Garfield will forever remain as pop culture’s top cat. In celebration of his 40th anniversary, why not enjoy a full tray of lasagna and a six-hour cat nap. At the very least, head over to professorgarfield.com to read through classic Garfield comics.