Sunday, June 13, 2010


I am not a fan of Garfield. Allow me to explain why.

Humor aimed at young children is fine. I don't mind if a cartoonist's claim to fame is making 8-year-olds giggle at a fat cat's hilarious antics ("Oh Garfield! It gets me EVERY time when you eat those donuts!"), because comedy for children is different. The problem is, Garfield's creator Jim Davis gets credit for much, much more. Between 1982 and 1997, he won some kind of award related to his cartoon almost every year. In both 1982 and 1986, he was awarded "Best Humor Strip Cartoonist." This I consider to be a travesty.

Clearly, a lot of people think Garfield is funny. This is what perplexes me. Let's look at today's official comic on (an unresponsive piece of garbage because of excessive use of Flash):

Okay. So there's a joke. Rather, an attempt at one. Either Garfield dropped Jon's toothbrushes in the toilet, or he's in the midst of an acid trip and Jon is concerned for his health. Given Davis's target demographic, I'm inclined to assume the former. Hilarity ensues! Garfield does something comically undesirable, and Jon drives the point home by illustrating his discomfort! Boy, do I love poorly-enacted situations that are mildly amusing.

I bet you didn't see that one coming. GAAAARRRRRFIIIIEEEEEELLD!!!!

It's kind of like Larry the Cable Guy, except without all the farting and racism.

More realistically:

"Time to make a webcomic!"
"Make sure you explain the punch line in the last panel!"

Jim Davis is a very considerate guy. See, he's afraid you're not smart enough to understand his highly sophisticated humor. So he makes sure that for his particularly clever comics, someone in the third panel explicitly explains the joke. Personally, I love being patronized.

Granted, Garfield is not the worst strip out there. I've yet to be even slightly amused by a Family Circus or a Heathcliff comic. But Garfield's incredible success and widespread fame are insulting to cartoonists that actually produce good quality content. Davis thrives on making jokes that are either unfunny, unoriginal, or completely ruined by his inexplicable need to point out what's "funny" about them.

There's plenty of good stuff out there. Calvin & Hobbes is a personal favorite; give it a try. Don't support mediocrity.

-- Dawson Zhou

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