Since I was a little girl, I have loved comic books – “Planet of the Apes,” “Wonder Woman,” “Cat Woman” and “Iron Man” were my favorites. As I’ve grown older, I still enjoy comics, only in the form of graphic novels. It seems like everywhere you turn today, another bestselling book is being turned into a graphic novel – “Twilight,” “The Stand,” “The Gunslinger,” “The Vampire Lestat” and “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter.”
One of mine and Christine’s favorite comics is “Garfield,” that fat orange cat with a huge appetite for lasagna. This month marks the 32nd anniversary of the first “Garfield” comic strip. Created by Jim Davis - Garfield is named after Davis’s grandfather – “Garfield” debuted on June 19, 1978, and chronicles the life of the feisty cat; his owner, Jon Arbuckle; and Arbuckle’s dog, Odie.
As of 2007, the “Garfield” comic strip is syndicated in over 2,580 newspapers and journals and holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip.
Garfield has such mass appeal, that the characters have leaped off the newspaper print and into other arenas of media. From 1982 to 1991, 12 primetime “Garfield” cartoon specials and one hour-long primetime documentary were marketed to television audiences. For seven seasons, from 1988 to 1994, a television cartoon show – “Garfield and Friends” – was popular with the under 12 years old crowd. Garfield also entered the world of video games in 1987 with “Garfield: Big Fat Hairy Deal.” There are two Garfield movies: “Garfield: The Move” (2004) and “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties” (2006). Although neither of these movies were major successes, they have developed a DVD following by many children – and some adults.
Currently, there are 50 “pure” Garfield books on the market, with the 51st one due out in 2011. I call these books pure because they contain reprints of the comic as it appears in newspapers daily, so if you missed a few papers, this is the perfect place to get your laughs. Beginning in 2001, “The Garfield Classics” imprint was introduced. These are reprints of earlier Garfield books in a “remastered” format with increased page size, bolder lines, and each strip in full-color format. The 20th “new” book was just released this past April and two more are scheduled for release next month. This is by no means is this the limit of the Garfield books on the market. There are children’s picture books, early reader books, new graphic novels and television series adaptations.
As a kid at heart, Garfield just makes me laugh. My favorite Garfield quote from “Garfield At Large: His First Book” (1980):
“I’m not overweight; I’m undertall!”Here’s to 32 more years of enjoyable comics.