Lazy, lasagna-loving, Monday-hating Garfield turns 40 | Books | DW | 19.06.2018
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Lazy, lasagna-loving, Monday-hating Garfield turns 40

"I am hungry. Therefore I am." As the world's favorite impertinent cat celebrates his 40th birthday, here's a look back at Garfield's story, some of his best quotes — and a few other fellow cult cats.

"Fat, lazy and proud of it." Who would have thought that anyone could become a world star with such an attitude? Yet, that's exactly what Garfield has achieved.

The character created by US cartoonist Jim Davis debuted 40 years ago, on June 19, 1978, in a comic strip published in 41 newspapers.

When a Chicago newspaper tried to drop it after a test run, readers' complaints convinced the editors to reinstate the cartoon in their pages. 

'Good times are ahead! Or behind. Because they sure aren't here'

According to Paws, Inc., the company Davis launched in 1981, the daily comic strip is published in around 2,400 newspapers in 80 countries and translated into 40 languages, thereby reaching some 200 million people. These numbers led Garfield to make it into The Guinness Book of Records in 2002.

Garfield was a media phenomenon way before Youtube and its viral cat videos.

The Garfield comic books have sold over 200 million times.

'If you want to look thinner, hang around people fatter than you'

The CGI animated TV series, The Garfield Show, launched 10 years ago in France for the 30th anniversary of the character, is another global hit. The fourth season has been sold to broadcasters in 130 countries.

On top of the different movies produced over the years, there's the merchandising. From t-shirts and baseball caps to coffee mugs and key chains, there are over 5,000 Garfield products worldwide, earning Paws, Inc. nearly $1 billion in revenue per year. 

Filmstill Garfield: The Movie (picture-alliance/dpa/20th Century Fox dpa/Zpress)

Bill Murray voiced Garfield in the 2004 film

'The most active thing about me is my imagination'

Garfield's creator, Jim Davis, grew up on a small farm in Indiana, with his parents, a younger brother and, most importantly, dozens of cats.

As a child, he often had to stay at home in bed because of his asthma attacks, and he would draw a lot. He never stopped.  

'If you are patient… and wait long enough… Nothing will happen'

Davis' first comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, was published in 1972. Focusing on bugs, it never became popular.

Because he felt there were so many cartoons with dogs already, Davis was then inspired by the cats he grew up with to come up with a smart, fat cat. He named the figure after his grandfather, whose full name was James Garfield Davis.

'Diet is 'die' with a 't''

"Garfield is an anti-hero," Davis once said. He says and does things we might all do if we knew we could get away with it.

To love Garfield is to love the imperfections that make us all human.

jhi/eg/als (with dpa)

 

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