The lasagne loving-Mondayhating-overweight cartoon cat celebrates his big 4-0 this year, with a tidy amount in his kitty litter. It all started in 1978 when Garfield’s creator Jim Davis (who grew up with 25 cats) decided to step away from the dominant dog comic market and introduced a cat, who is now read by 200 million people daily.
Davis took the time out to tell ETPanache just how Garfield would spend his net worth of $800 million dollars and what he does to help his staff combat the Monday blues.
Do you have the Monday blues? How do you deal with it?
No, I don’t hate Mondays. I look forward to them. Of course, it helps when you love your work as much as I do. I recognise that people on my staff might be slightly less enthusiastic about the return to the work week — it’s human nature— so we avoid scheduling meetings on Monday mornings. I also provide lots of black coffee, and occasionally we have donuts. There’s nothing like a little caffeine and sugar to get your heart pumping.
Garfield is lazy and hates work — an attitude that resonates with fans all over the world. How do you channel his attitude, which may be so different from your own?
I think deep down inside there’s a little Garfield in all of us. I’m an optimist, but even so, we all have days where we just want to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep. We all have days where we can’t stick to our diet. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m pretty good at sarcasm, so Garfield and I have that in common.
Do you think it’s ironic that a lazy cat that doesn’t do anything made you millions?
Yes, when you put it like that, that does seem pretty ironic. But Garfield is more than just lazy — he’s also overweight and grouchy. How can you not love that? I feel very lucky that Garfield has provided a good living for me and my family. When I started drawing the cartoon I wasn’t anticipating any of this. I was just happy to be a syndicated cartoonist.
How do you think he would react to all the money he has made?
Garfield would be showy and ostentatious with wealth. He’d have a Gucci scratching post, a full-time chef specialising in Italian food, a refrigerator in every room, a bodyguard to rough up neighbourhood dogs — and that’s just for starters. And knowing Garfield’s love of irony, he’d probably get a job, just so he could quit it.
You credit asthma with helping you become a cartoonist. What other offbeat challenges helped you reach where you are today?
I don’t talk about it often, but I was a stutterer in elementary school. Even saying the word makes me stutter. But overall, I’d say I had a pretty charmed childhood. I’ve been lucky.
Garfield had offered Odie to President Obama for the White House. Did you hear back from the Obamas?
No, we didn’t, but I expect he had a few other things on his mind. Garfield did get his foot in the White House though. He was part of former first lady Barbara Bush’s radio show. He even wrote a review of Mrs. Bush’s book about her dog, Millie, titled Millie’s Book, for The New York Times.
What kind of animal do you think would represent the world in 2018?
Is this a trick question? I don’t get political. But if Garfield ruled the world: Mornings would start later in the day, you’d work two weeks and vacation the other 50, and chocolate would be a diet food.