Jim Davis plus Garfield

It may seem a bit frivolous to spend any part of our program with the creator of Garfield but I disagree. There is very little in the world - products, brands, people, characters - that matches Garfield's global ubiquity. The comic strip is translated into 45 languages and read by more than 200 million people around the world. Travel to any country, and you will likely see Garfield's sardonic grin somewhere, on some item. He is currently on postage stamps in France! There is scarcely a product that Garfield's mug has not adorned - - baby diapers, toilet seats, apple sauce, you name it. And all of that merchandising has made Garfield one of the most recognizable brands in the world. His Q Score is proof. A Q score is a measurement tool used by marketing, advertising and public relations people to gauge the familiarity of things like a celebrity, company, product or TV show. The higher the Q score, the more well-known the thing is. Mickey Mouse's Q score is 96; Garfield's is 95; Albert Einstein gets a 56. So how did a mid-western farmer's son create such a global powerhouse, all the while keeping his empire headquartered in Muncie, Indiana? That is what we wanted to know. I went to Paws, Inc. to record Bob's interview with Jim Davis. Full disclosure: I had a giant Garfield birthday party when I turned 8 and my family has owned exclusively rotund, orange cats for generations; it was a bit of a pilgrimage. Davis was as good-natured as they come. While we were waiting for the interview to begin, he showed me a video from youtube of a "real-life Garfield." Davis smiled all the way through saying, "Look at that. .. he has got the attitude!" The kids who grew up with Garfield are now adults and rediscovering the ornery feline on a popular blog, Garfield Minus Garfield. Dan Walsh, the creator of the site, describes it as "dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb." And it is hilarious. The site got the attention of Davis, who instead of issuing a cease and desist order, endorsed it, calling it "inspired." Now Davis and Walsh have collaborated on a book which comes out October 28th along with 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend. It was clear from the three hours I spent with Davis that he really loves the character he has created. . . even after 30 years of drawing him. Garfield is a lot more than a cash-cat to Jim Davis.

-Andy