Sunday, March 16, 2008

'garfield' sans the cat

I have a confession to make: I don't like "Garfield." In fact, I've never liked "Garfield."

It's a stupid strip, not worth the space it takes in the paper. It has four basic jokes: Garfield's owner is a putz, Odie the dog is stupid, Garfield is fat, and Mondays are horrible. I understand the strip is written more than a year in advance. If Jim Davis were to start rerunning old strips, I doubt anyone would even notice. When the Sunday paper pulled it, I was thrilled, since it meant there was a chance that the replacement strip might actually be worth reading.

But then there's the Internet. And somewhere on the Internet, someone asked, what happens if you take out the cat?
Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.
I present "Garfield Minus Garfield," probably the only time I have laughed out loud at a Garfield comic so hard I nearly peed myself. This is the strip the newspapers should be running. The strip literally is the "Garfield" comic but with that annoying cat digitally removed. The effect is that the strip centers on Jon Arbuckle, a man whose mind is unraveling before our eyes, a man who talks to the open air, frets over nothings, and rejoices in the smallest triumph, all before an audience of nobody.

I honestly can't think of a better strip than this one. I wish Davis had written it from the get-go.

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