“I hate Mondays”.When this phrase is muttered, one can’t help but remember the lovable, overweight, lasagna-craving ginger cat who made it famous. On June 19, the world celebrates Garfield Day, honoring what is arguably the world’s most famous and laziest cat.
It was on June 19, 1978, when cartoonist Jim Davis first publicized his comic strip, ushering in an era where the names Garfield, Odie and Jon Arbuckle became worldwide icons. Over 40 years later and Garfield is still just as popular as ever. The comic strip spawned a TV show, a number of video games, feature films, books, holiday specials, and an innumerable amount of merchandise.
Cathy Kothe holds the Guiness World Record of “Largest Collection of Garfield memorabilia”.
In an interview with the UK’s Independent Newspaper, Davis said: “I remember doing an early interview when Garfield first got going, and I told the guy that I hoped I’d get 25 years’ work out of Garfield, that was my goal. Well, we obviously blew past that some time ago.”
Davis originally intended for Garfield to be an insect. His first attempt at creating a comic strip for newspaper syndication came in the form of ‘Gnorm’ the Gnat. Jim took a hard look at the comic strip world and realized that dogs were getting their due, but cats were not being heard. So, Garfield was born.
“Thematically, [Garfield] deals with things that everyone can identify with,” Davis said.
“I purposely avoided socio-political comment simply because not everybody can identify with it, in other cultures as well.”
New Garfield strips are still being printed in thousands of newspapers across the world. Even though print media is on the decline, Davis is confident that the comic will live in this format for years to come. Just like Mickey Mouse, Garfield is an icon that will be etched into the hearts of the world for decades to come.
David Barritt from animal welfare organization, Network For Animals (NFA), cannot be more pleased to have an animal sitting at the center of pop culture.
“It may be comical in its setting, but Garfield has certainly played his part in fostering a love for our feline friends for many generations to come,” said Barritt.
“It was with me in my youth, and it is something that even my own children, and their children can relate to.”
Barritt believes that Garfield provides a powerful platform to deliver a cats perspective on a crazy and senseless human world. Like Garfield can only express himself through a thought bubble, the cats of the world also cannot speak for themselves, leaving most human beings indifferent to their needs.
“Animals of the world are suffering and they can’t express themselves. Their suffering is generally caused by people so it should be up to people to make it right. Luckily, thanks to the donations of our supporters, NFA has been able to help millions of animals across the globe, including cats. We only hope that we can continue to do that for as long as Garfield remains a global icon and beyond.”