Garfield Lovers Anonymous
The other day, I was at my local greengrocer picking up some sausages when I laid my eyes upon one of the finest irony sweatshirts out there: “PATRIOTS” it blared, with a smaller “New England” right below it. And climbing all around the wordmarks, in lil pads and lil helmets and throwing lil footballs were a flock of Garfields. Just a bunch of America’s Favorite Orange Jerk Cats running Hail Marys around “PATRIOTS.” It was amazing and I instantly wanted it.
I really really wanted it and that’s saying something because since I’m a human being, I hate the Patriots and everything Pats-adjacent. But oh my sweet goddamn do I love Garfield. I’ve adored Garfield since I was probably six or seven, a time in my life where you would rarely find me without one of those classic long-book comic anthologies tucked under my arm. Garfield At Large, Garfield Takes the Cake, Garfield Sits Around the House, Garfield Mails Nermal to Abu Dhabi, etc.
I basically grew a sense of humor off of Garfield books, with every lasagna joke and Jon Arbuckle put down making me literally laugh out loud in the back of the family minivan. There was no anniversary book I didn’t have, no Garf plush I didn’t sleep with, no Pet Force spin-off I didn’t check out of the school library six times a year. Garfield was my GUY for my entire childhood. And sure, I didn’t get ALL the jokes but I got enough to know that this cat… he wasn’t havin’ it, folks!!!
But it’s almost twenty years later and these days, Garfield is a hilarious and strange punchline. There was Garfield Minus Garfield taking the cat out of the strip and driving Jon into soul-sucking madness, there’s the incredible Lasagna Cat Youtube channel spewing fully-formed absurd single strip re-enactment videos, there are ethnographies on breathtakingly innocent private Garfield Facebook fan groups. No other comic strip has aged like this, finding itself the unending fodder for the ironic and tWiStEd Internet masses out there. It’s given The Orange One a second life that Pissing Calvin could only DREAM of.
As a True Garf-head, it’s bizarre! I mean, most of the humor is a play on undeniable humorlessness and sterile verve of every Garfield strip and yet, I fucking love it. I’ve cry-laughed at Garfield memes and Lasagna Cat music videos. But a small part of me thinks, damn, I genuinely love this comic as a kid…. but it’s bad? I look back on strips and confirm that yeah, objectively not funny! What the hell was I laughing at back then?
And I know, kids have shitty taste and all and that makes sense. But boy, was there something magical about each strip back in those early days. Even now, as I cycled through random strips for a “bad” example, I chuckled in spite of my self at almost every one of them. Harmless, easy jokes but they made me smile just the same! I guess it really doesn’t matter what you like, as long as you take it all in good humor. Pobody’s nerfect and hey, the way I see it, I get two forms of Garf to enjoy: the strips and the m e m e s. They’re both good!
Like sure, Bill Watterson may have retired early and preserved Calvin & Hobbes in unassailable amber but was Calvin ever the subject of a gender controversy???? Hell no. Eat your heart out, Bill!!