Monday, July 14, 2008

Much as I love cats,...

This morning a friend emailed me a link to the funniest thing I've seen in months. It's called Garfield Minus Garfield, and it is, as you might guess, the Garfield comic strip shorn of its eponymous character. The revised strip focuses exclusively on Jon Arbuckle, Garfield's human caregiver... except he has no one to care for. The strips are, of course, cherry-picked for their applicability, but even so, it's a revelation just how well the strips work, and on so many levels, without Garfield in them. Garfield is revealed as the ultimate Jar-Jar Binks of the "first" (fourth, actually, thank you very much) Star Wars movie... even more so than Jar-Jar. After all, the movie wasn't called Jar-Jar Wars, so he can be forgiven for being a superfluous, tacked-on element. That a character for whom a strip is actually named is proven likewise is more startling, and funnier in the extreme.

The guy who does the strip sets it up this way: "Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb." (Apparently Jim Davis himself is okay with this, and even supportive of it; if that's true, it's certainly a feather in his cap. One's left to wonder if he's recognized the gold in his own strip that he keeps insisting on debasing by adding the iron pyrite of that lump of a cat who has to get in the last word and grind the joke into the dust... After all, he created these, and then buried them under Garfield's kitty litter. The site's author has merely revealed for us what was already there, underneath the dross.)

Trying not to laugh out loud at some of these is a real challenge. Check out these examples. They seem to come in about three varieties... the ones that are hilariously absurd...

...the ones that are oddly, hauntingly poignant...

...and the ones that are like spending the afternoon visiting your senile grampa in the home...

Strolling through the heightened dementia of Garfield Minus Garfield makes for a fun afternoon. Go treat yourself. :)

2 comments:

Dreck said...

I love these strips. Haven't looked at them in ages. Quite inspired.
For me, they really show up how shit Garfield is whilst simultaneously - as you say - show up the ennui of modern existence.
I also like the extent to which they create something new out of the old / cut and paste cultural referencing style (in this instance, cutting without the pasting).

L-girl said...

These are very funny.