What's Up With Garfield These Days?

I know Garfield is a controversial strip. Well, okay not really, but it does come under scruteny because many people feel that Garfield is one of the lowest points on the funnies page. But it makes so much money that you can't touch it. Garfield will forever be kicking Odie off the table, eating food, and Jon will always be a loser. Or will he? Let's go back to "Garfield: The Movie," the fat cats theatrical debut. It was not a great movie. I liked it but I could see why people who didn't grow up with the strip would hate it. What surprised a lot of people about the movie was the fact that at the end of the movie Jon and veternarian Liz became a couple. In the fact that Jon now had an actual girlfriend. This was in stark contrast to what we've come to know in the comics. Then the producers took it a step further by having Jon propose to Liz in the sequel "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties."

This was even more in contrast to the comic strip Jon, who can't impress a girl to save his life. Well, apparently Jim Davis liked the idea behind the movie, and in a multi-comic story Jon managed to finally admit to Liz he loved her above anyone else. In response she admitted that she loved him too. So much so that she even admitted to being a bit dispointed when he didn't try to ask her out on a date on Garfield's previous checkup. Now I'm bringing this up because I have a point to make with this: Garfield, the comic, is no longer boring. At least it's not as boring as it used to be. Liz adds a new dynamic to the strip as Jon's girlfriend (I suspect the proposal will be saved for an anniversary strip). She's smart, cool, and confident (competitent?). Jon is none of these.

She can cook, she has a successful career, and she can predict when Garfield is up to something. Jon...can't. Frankly, this dynamic is INTERESTING! It's not that Liz is a better character then Jon or Garfield, but her being there has opened up many different possibilities for the strip. She shakes up the strip from it's usual routine. Kind of like how Nermal does when he makes his rare apperances. So much so that the comic suffers without her now. Jon and Garfield fall into a rut without this woman in the house, and Davis should be taking advantage of that for all it's worth. Sunday's comic I think is the perfect place to follow up on this promise. For starters I have to point out that this comic DOES represent what people hate about Garfield! This is easily a three strip joke expanded into seven by cheap photocopy techniques.

But this is also a perfect example of what Liz has become to the characters. She's become a great friend, the yang to Jon's ying, and a foil for Garfield. There's excitement when she's around them, and this strip not only points that out, it gets a decent joke about it. This is the perfect place for Jon to realize what Liz means to his life, and that it's time to finally make that commitment because of the life she breaths into his. After another two weeks of routine Jon should plan a great date night (Garfield can screw it up) and have it ending with a proposal. This will lead to a couple of storylines about planning the wedding, the wedding, and the honeymoon. Then the comic and return to non-story strips that are now interesting. A kid or two would shake things up. With this relationship Davis has made "Garfield" interesting again. A few more steps in this direction could make the strip a must read again.

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