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A creation of cartoonist Jim Davis (1945–), Garfield is a lazy but scheming cat who ranks with Felix the Cat (see entry under

1910s—Film and Theater in volume 1), Sylvester, and Krazy Kat (see entry under 1910s—Print Culture in volume 1) among the most popular feline comic-strip characters of all time. Described by his creator as a "fat, orange couch potato," the cat with the huge saucer eyes first made his appearance on June 19, 1978, in a strip populated with his owner, Jon Arbuckle; his Teddy bear, Pooky; and his sidekick, Odie, a constantly panting dog whose energy contrasts sharply with Garfield's relaxed persona.

Garfield is happiest when indulging in his favorite food, lasagna, or engaging in his preferred pastime, raiding the cookie jar. Next to eating, his favorite deed is sleeping, an activity he describes as a "nap attack." When Jon complains in one strip, "Every time I look at you, you're either eating or sleeping," a perplexed Garfield replies, "I'd be happy to choose one and stick with it." The term "reply" is used figuratively, since Garfield never "speaks" in the same way that his human owner does; the cat's thoughts are always framed in a cloud-shaped balloon with circular "smoke signals," indicating the thoughts of this mysterious creature with his somewhat aloof attitude toward both Jon and Odie, as well as toward life itself.

Davis calls Garfield a "human in a cat suit" when explaining the popular appeal of a cat described on his official Web site as "a wisecracking, nap-taking, coffee-guzzling, lasagna-loving, Monday-hating, dog-punting, spider-whacking, mailman-mauling fat cat." Since the beginning of the Garfield comic strip, the cat has appeared in several dozen comic-book (see entry under 1930s—Print Culture in volume 2) collections of Davis's strips, in a television (see entry under 1940s—TV and Radio in volume 3) cartoon series that ran from 1988 to 1995, in numerous video specials, in a video game (see entry under 1970s—Sports & Games in volume 4), and on lunch boxes.

—Edward Moran

For More Information

Official Site for Garfield and Friends. (accessed March 27, 2002).

Rogers, Katharine M. The Cat and the Human Imagination: Feline Images from Bast to Garfield. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

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