Happy Birthday Garfield! New Zazzle Garfield Store & Jim Davis Interview

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Today is the birthday of our favorite lasagna-lovin’ orange cat, Garfield! In celebration of this, we asked Garfield creator Jim Davis a few questions about Garfield, Garfield on Zazzle, and the universe in general. See below for the interview and be sure to check out the Zazzle Garfield store for all your Garfield t-shirts, Garfield mugs, Garfield keychains, Garfield mousepads, and more!

Jim Davis, Garfield Creator
Garfield creator Jim Davis.

Zazzle: How did you get the idea for Garfield?

Jim Davis: My mom dropped me on my head when I was a baby, and that set the wheels in motion for me to become a cartoonist. Seriously, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist from the time I was a kid, and I was lucky enough to serve as an assistant to Tumbleweeds creator Tom Ryan. While working with Tom, I developed several of my own strips, one about a bug named Gnorm Gnat. I thought Gnorm was strong enough to be syndicated so I started sending my work to syndicates across the country. Comic’s editors at the syndicates thought there was something there, but bugs? Who can relate to bugs? So I took a long look at the comics pages and noticed there were a lot of dogs doing quite well. There was Snoopy, Belvedere, and Marmaduke – but no cats! So I took my memories of all the cats I remembered from my childhood home – on a country farm it’s not unusual to have dozens of cats – and I combined those traits with those of my grandfather, James Garfield Davis, and Voila! Garfield was born.
 
 
Zazzle: What is your favorite thing about drawing Garfield?

Jim Davis: He still makes me laugh. In my mind’s eye, I conjure him up and see what he’s up to. I’ll create a situation and see how he reacts. That’s how I come up with most of the comic strip ideas. I guess that’s the best thing about drawing Garfield — he still surprises me.
 
 
Zazzle: Is Jon based on anyone you know and why is he so unlucky when he dates?

Jim Davis: Jon is me more than any other character in the strip. I was a dork in college; I had trouble dating; I’m wishy-washy; I’m basically just a simple guy.
 
 
Zazzle: What impact has technology and the internet had on the strip?

Jim Davis: I love technology and computers and of course, the Internet. Great tools. As far as the strip goes, we still draw and ink it by hand. The only change is that we color it in the computer, and send it electronically rather than by a freight service. In terms of the humor of the strip, Garfield is also a big fan of the Internet. It’s the essence of laziness in a way — everything comes to you and you don’t have to get out of your chair.
 
 
Zazzle: What does having a Zazzle store mean for fans of the strip?

Jim Davis: The Garfield Comics and More Store on Zazzle is the first time we’ve offered affordable products that can be customized and personalized using the comic strip and comic art as the theme. I think secretly we’d all be happy to see our names show up in a comic strip, so the Garfield Comics and more store offers something totally unique and special to the Garfield fan.
 
 
Zazzle: What is your favorite feature from Zazzle in the Garfield store?

Jim Davis: Putting someone’s name in the strip. I’ve been dropping names of my friend and family into the strip as an inside joke for years. People just go crazy when they see their name in the newspaper. I get a big kick out of it — now, thanks to Zazzle’s personalization services, anyone can add a name.

garfield keychain garfield t-shirt garfield travel mug

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3 Responses to “Happy Birthday Garfield! New Zazzle Garfield Store & Jim Davis Interview”

  1. Adam Campen Says:

    I am a huge Garfield fan. Currently I’m 31, I have over 80 Garfield books, around 90 or so Garfield stuffed toys and an assortment of other Garfield related items, my older sis being a huge contributor to the collection.

    When I was around 10 or so, I was hospitalized for about a week with some type of virus, I still don’t know exactly what I had, I just knew that I had to be there with an I-V stuck in the back of my hand 24/7 and I was in a room next to a new born who cried a lot at night so sleeping was tough for me then… strange dark place AND screaming infant. Anyways, my parents and sister visited all available hours they could, no over night guests, but I was in a military hospital (my Father was in the Air Force) so there was a sense of security also, more so on my parents part then me who was stuck there. So early on in my hospital stay they bought me a Garfield stuffed toy I still have it, floppy legs and hands, big hard plastic eyes and nose, old school, but awesome. I don’t think I ever read the comic at that point or even knew of it. But for most of the hospital stay, that stuffed animal was my companion throughout. My parents had no idea I’d stick with Garfield from then on. I feel it’s sort of luck they got that particular stuffed toy. They could have gotten me anything really, I just got lucky it was a Garfield toy, and that Garfield is who he is thanks to Jim Davis. So thank you Jim, I think I’m a better person upon having Garfield, Odie and John as roll models… even though one of those “roll models” sleeps in a lot, maybe that’s where I get it from. Some call it lazy, I call it sleep appreciation.

    Thanks for Garfield! -Adam

  2. Karen Says:

    Hey Adam…..way to go for promoiting sleep appreciation! Garfield is prolly the ONE known individual who is not sleep deprived and i can deeply appreciate that as well…..

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