Garfield’s Midlife Crisis — 20 things you didn’t know about the feline icon
Garfield, the lasagna (lasagne for my fellow Brits) loving cat is turning 40, and years of eating pasta, drinking coffee and generally lazing about seem to have had no ill effect on the witty kitty.
So to celebrate Garfield hitting the big 4–0, here are a few things you may not know about our furry friend (or frenemy if you’re Odie).
1. Garfield made its debut in 1978. Creator Jim Davis reviewed the popular daily comic strips of the time and surmised that although there were plenty about dogs, very few featured cats. Growing up on a farm with approximately 25 cats, Jim had plenty of material to base his new comic strip on and on 19 June 1978, Garfield (named after Jim’s grandfather James A. Garfield Davis) was ‘born’.
2. Garfield was born in an Italian restaurant weighing 5lb 60z (The same weight as Jim’s son, James), but because of Garfield’s love of lasagna, the owner had to choose between closing the restaurant or giving in to Garfield’s incessant pasta passion. So, Garfield was put up for adoption which is where Jon Arbuckle found him, having to make the difficult choice of Garfield, an iguana or a pet rock.
3. On 1st January 1980, the first book, ‘Garfield at large” was published and shot to number one on New York best sellers list where it remained for two years.
4. Success followed and in November 1982, Garfield made the cover of People magazine and was named as America’s number 1 personality.
5. 1995 saw Garfield releasing his album ‘Cool Cat’ which topped the chart in Germany resulting in a video featuring Garfield as a baseball cap wearing, moonwalking DJ (worth watching just for Jon’s dancing).
6. Talking of Jon, although rarely referenced Jon’s job is as a cartoonist.
7. Garfield was originally syndicated in 41 newspapers but now appears in more than 2100 publications, across 111 countries and is read by approx 200 million readers every day.
8. Garfield has appeared as a comic strip, TV show, in video games and in 2015 in a musical — Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude. His books have sold over 200 million and he even has his own theme park ride.
9. Garfield has appeared in two films and the sequel ‘A Tale of Two Kitties’ remains the most popular animated film in China. More recently the Grumpy cat movie makers asked if Garfield could appear but due to other commitments, he was unfortunately unable to.
10. Garfield is the recipient of 4 Emmy awards.
11. Garfield merchandise is huge — Pillow, posters, mugs, motorbike helmets, clocks, figurines and toys account for just some of the annual $1 billion revenue. And if you were around in the 80’s who can forget the Garfield stick on car plushies, which sold in tens of millions.
12. Jon is somewhat of a technophobe, however, this hasn’t stopped Garfield’s fat furry face from gracing, credit cards and phone covers. And Garfield is no social media slouch (despite his tendency to take really long naps) with nearly 91k twitter followers, 300k Instagram devotees and approx 16 million Facebook fans.
13. In 2010 Garfield got his own US stamp, which in essence means you could lick Garfield’s butt (I reckon he’d be pretty purroud).
14. Among other things Garfield has advertised, milk, gum and tyres. He has also supported several campaigns including ‘sleep well’ encouraging children to get more sleep every night; The Shelter Pet Project, encouraging people to adopt from their local animal shelters and a line of Skechers shoes with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Best Friends Animal Society. In 2019, a Chinese Garfield-themed educational and recreational farm will open, offering hands-on agricultural experience for children and families.
15. We all know Garfield loves lasagna and hates Monday’s but did you also know that he likes: coffee, pizza, flowers and ferns, mice (as friends) Pooky (his teddy bear), and ice cream but dislikes like raisins, spinach, buttermilk, diets, exercise, spiders and mailmen (persons).
16. Food and drink magazine published a great article about Garfield’s lasagna habit and using their calculations, this would have cost Jon Arbuckle over $300,000 throughout Garfield’s 40-year life.
17. However, cats shouldn’t eat lasagna due to the dairy and onion content, which has given rise to the theory that Garfield is a ghost or imagined cat, giving voice to Jon’s existential angst. Dan Walsh created ‘Garfield minus Garfield’, a series of Garfield cartoons with just Jon’s thoughts. Contacted by the Garfield creatives, Dan thought they were going to issue him a cease and desist order, but instead, they collaborated on a book with him.
18. Garfield is a professor, kind of. He created the Infinite Learning Lab, a resource for teachers and parents, which includes advice and information on bullying and online safety.
19. In 2017 there was a Wikipedia lock down on Garfield’s page, due to a debate over gender identity. Following remarks made by creator Jim in 2015 stating Garfield…
’By virtue of being a cat, really, he’s not really male or female or any particular race or nationality, young or old’
there followed an intense few days of the Wiki page being updated to state; male, female or none, resulting in the page being locked and finally being reinstated with Garfield’s gender listed as male.
20. To celebrate Garfield’s fortieth year, he’ll be publishing ‘Age Happens: Garfield Hits the Big 4–0’, but what you might not know is the foreword was written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda (a lifelong Garfield fan).
So there you have it our pasta-loving puss is turning forty, and boy what a journey he’s had. I don’t know how many of his nine lives he’s used up, but here’s to entering midlife with grace and maturity (yeh…right).
Garfield images remain the copyright of Paws Inc.