June 19th marks the 40th anniversary of the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip and lasagna loving cat: Garfield.
And Garfield’s creator Jim Davis is arguably the most successful living cartoonist, running a licensing empire Paws, Inc that generates between 800 million to a billion dollars annually. But a significant factor in the cat’s financial success has to do with the lack of controversy that Garfield has drawn for 4 decades.
And after reading numerous interviews with Garfield’s creator Jim Davis, it’s easy to assume that behind the curmudgeonly cat is a curmudgeonly man. How else was one supposed to interpret such quotes as Garfield being born out of “a conscious effort to come up with a good, marketable character”?
But what these articles all failed to mention is that whenever Davis unleashes one of these seemingly soulless business dictums, he does so amid a fusillade of hearty, vaguely feline laughter.
This is the guy who makes Garfield, after all.
And Davis loves the orange cat, he is very conscientious about what products Garfield’s face or tail-stripes are put on, and he writes the comic every single day. So what if he sometimes slaps a “Davis” on the third panel of a strip his head writer Mark came up with the gag for.
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