With Minimal Lasagna
June 21, 2018 6:10 AM   Subscribe

From cartoonist Gale Galligan comes Jon, a Garfield fancomic considering the life of Jon Arbuckle, cartoonist. Part 1, 2.
posted by Maecenas (41 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is just about the best. Thanks. I look forward to reading her other comics.
posted by papayaninja at 6:32 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I might have started crying on the train just now.
posted by trotskytown at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


This is very sweet. And Odie leaving a drool puddle next to the hors d'oeuvres is funnier than anything I've seen in the source comic for a while. (Disclaimer: I have not actually read the comic for a great while, not counting derivative works and posts on the blue asking the important questions.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:35 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Great googly moogly, but that's sweet. I might actually read Garfield if it had one-tenth the heart this work does.
posted by Gelatin at 6:35 AM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


That was pure and delightful and everything I needed this morning.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I bought the print version of the first one at Small Press Expo, Gale Galligan asked me who my favorite Garfield character was. I said Odie and she started drawing and then said "I just got distracted and started drawing Jon" and then she also drew me Odie.

(While the con in #2 isn't really Small Press Expo, it does share some charming visual similarities and I love that.)

These are both so sweet and have honestly, made me think about Garfield in a different way. It reminds me there's an actual human behind the comic. And all creative works have humans behind them.

I really recommend Gale Galligan's work overall and I think she's going to be huge here in a couple of years. She's already taken over graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club books from Raina Telgemeier (and if I remember the story correctly, it was Telgemeier who recommended her as her successor). She's a lot of fun and doing great things.
posted by darksong at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


I might actually read Garfield if it had one-tenth the heart this work does.

I thought the whole point of Garfield is that it's an endless vista of despair? That it has heart, but that that heart is irreparably broken? Just me?
posted by ryanshepard at 6:47 AM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Aw, this is really sweet!
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:20 AM on June 21, 2018


These are both so sweet and have honestly, made me think about Garfield in a different way. It reminds me there's an actual human behind the comic.

Humans. Several. It's been an assembly line production for eons now, with the creator barely involved.

It's good that she's doing these today, rather than, say, back at the strip's height. Back then, she'd definitely have a phalanx of lawyers knocking on her door. Today, I'd imagine the folks in charge would be happy to have the attention and whimsical fan-service.

All that aside, I definitely love what she's doing with these. It's very hard not to read them with a slightly jaundiced eye, though, having been so close to the reality of the sausage making, as it were. There's definitely a feeling of "god, if only..." as I read these.

This is really sweet stuff. It'll be interesting to see where she takes it.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thorzdad: I dunno. Jim Davis seems to have a sense of humor about fan works. I mean, he penned a foreword to the Garfield Minus Garfield book. That's a pretty ringing endorsement.
posted by SansPoint at 7:28 AM on June 21, 2018 [15 favorites]


It's such a wonderful couple of comics. It's really really good.

I feel like I've developed an unusually deep relationship with Garfield as a deconstructed and resynthesized text because of my involvement with the Great Mid-Aughts Internet Garfield-Weirding phenomenon but I hadn't developed any kind of emotional connection with any of it. It was just something to play around with, to sort of genially take a sledgehammer to. (And, yeah, Jim Davis is by all accounts a mensch, whatever you might say about the ambitions of his cartoon product). Garfield was a playground, a set of neutral-to-ironic building blocks.

And then this comic came along it's just brimming over with heart and realness and vulnerability built onto the life of erstwhile walking-punchline Jon, and...well, the dang thing made me tear up reading it, and then again recapping it to my wife over a beer. Like I'm sitting there joking a little with her about how I was reading this comic about Jon and it had kinda gotten to me, and I'm sipping my beer and sort of walking through the story beats and then I'm just sort of laughing and crying over my beer with this weird storm of emotions.

I don't know how that happens, exactly. It's great work.
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on June 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


This is genius. I read a lot of this strip as a kid during the years of Peak Garfield and the fact of Jon’s hellish, soulless existence was clear to me even then. Jon is distilled adult pathos. This uses those decades of No Exit Jon as a set up for the emotional payback of seeing someone discovering new life late into adulthood. Jon deserves to be happy, goddamit.
posted by q*ben at 7:51 AM on June 21, 2018 [13 favorites]


I kept expecting some sort of dark twist, and was pleasantly surprised that it never came. Good comics!
posted by codacorolla at 8:06 AM on June 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


This is really cute but is jarring to see with Garfield characters. It's odd, I like the comic as a little vignette comic, but as Jon and Garfield it seems too strange. Then again, the Garfield fan stuff I'm used to seeing is deliberately grotesque, so my Garfield sensors are calibrated for another tone. I am going to be checking out the artists other work, I suspect I'll like it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:13 AM on June 21, 2018


These are really cute!

GoblinHoney, I see what you mean, but I also think it works (especially the second one) *because* it's the Garfield characters; the sketchbook thing in the second one seems really genuine because of the affection I remember for Garfield when I was a kid (I'm sure I'm not the only one; I'm thinking of how KC Green designed one of his Gunshow collection covers after the cover of Garfield's Nine Lives for instance; I think part of the reason the Internet loves grossing up Garfield is because of how much we liked it when we were little? maybe not). If it were more generic or less-recognizably the Garfield cast then I think it would lose some of the emotional oomph for me, and if it were something recognizable but not Garfield it wouldn't work as well because of the (pretty much dispensed with after the first strip, AFAIK) fiction that Jon is a cartoonist.
posted by dismas at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


These are just great. There's a soulless feeling to garfield normally, and these show what's missing.
posted by trif at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2018


Odie!
posted by supermedusa at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is the perfect antidote for these weary, cynical days of despair.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2018


This is terrific. Thanks for posting.
posted by shothotbot at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2018


More substantively: I feel like this gently calls me out a bit on my snobbishness. I like more complicated, nuanced things than Garfield but that is just my taste and those other things aren't bad especially if they bring joy to a lot of people.
posted by shothotbot at 9:12 AM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


That whole thread with the little girl's sketches had me goopily smiley.
posted by Samizdata at 9:17 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I dunno. Jim Davis seems to have a sense of humor about fan works. I mean, he penned a foreword to the Garfield Minus Garfield book. That's a pretty ringing endorsement.

Which is why I said "today." Back, say, in the 90's, things were verrrry different, especially before Davis bought his rights back.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but I believe that one of the factors of Jim Davis creating Garfield as a comic was that it would be marketable and licensable . I believe the repercussions helped contribute to Bill Watterson's strong anti-licensing stance.

But jadedness aside, this is great.
posted by msingle at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2018


I did not expect this to be so sweet!
posted by chatongriffes at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2018


So charming! Also I am very glad to know of Garfield Minus Garfield Plus Lying Cat, thank you Halloween Jack.
posted by torridly at 12:16 PM on June 21, 2018


This is very sweet. I've been chatting with a guy who told me, embarrassed, that he just bought the final Garfield omnibus because when he was a kid in a really rough situation, reading Garfield calmed him down and cheered him up, and it fills a nostalgic and kind hole for him. I'm just lucky that my parents were cool enough to have The Far Side compilations for me to sleep with under my pillow for when I woke up in the middle of the night with nightmares. Anyways, I shared this with him and I hope he thinks they're sweet, too.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:51 PM on June 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


This was so good and really more touching than I could have imagined. I'm sharing it with all my friends from sixth grade who decided lasagna was their favorite food back in 1982.
posted by Caxton1476 at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is absolutely beautiful. I was a girl when Garfield made it big and it hit my sweet spot hard. I scribbled countless (bad) Garfields and (decent) Odies in every notebook I had. I had plushes and clings and my amazing mom even acquiesced to having the suction cup Garfield on her car window for a bit. I never thought Jon's life was awful. I just thought he was a goof. I still have a small stuffed Odie.

While the bizarre Garfield derivatives are funny, I never got into them, because the originals meant so much to me. This is perfect. Thank you.
posted by kimberussell at 1:32 PM on June 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


Disclaimer: I used to be a contributor (under both of my 'names') to the Garfield deconstruction comic "Square Root of Minus Garfield", mostly photoshopping fictitious crossover strips, and we have never gotten any objections from Paws, Inc.. Jim Davis apparently loves the fanfic.

And it MUST be noted that earlier this week was the 40th Anniversary of the publication of the first Garfield comic (aka, Garfield's 40th Birthday) and they've been running gags about it since last week.

But yes, Jon's occupation as a cartoonist was never mentioned after the first comic, and Davis, in more than one interview, said it was to make sure the focus was always on the title character (although the Minus comics demonstrate that a lot of Gar's gags were responses to Jon's weird behavior). Still, that makes Gale Galligan's "Jon" even more appropriate, especially since it's not in "daily strip" format.

But Garfield is still the most popular comic strip in the shrinking world of newspaper funnies, and the fact that Dilbert hasn't overtaken him is a sign that not EVERYTHING has gone to sh!t. Still, I wonder what if Bill "Calvin & Hobbes" Watterson hadn't taken an early retirement and Richard "Cul De Sac" Thompson hadn't died. I do hold out some hope for the recently syndicated Wallace the Brave by Will Henry, and then there's always the "New" Nancy, and I'm madly speculating the identity of "Olivia Jaimes", especially considering there are TWO great women webcomickers who ended their iconic series and are now in 'rerun mode'. But I digress.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:59 PM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I really like Gail's take on Odie. He looks much more like a real dog here.

What is the lettering tool Jon demonstrates toward the end of Part 1?
posted by bryon at 2:49 PM on June 21, 2018


This was heartwarming, but not excessively so. I approve, deeply.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:27 PM on June 21, 2018


Garfield and I share a birthday (June 19) and like that I can always get my very own birthday cartoon. Plus, "I'm not overweight, I'm undertall" is my mantra. This was really great.
posted by ceejaytee at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


bryon: What is the lettering tool Jon demonstrates toward the end of Part 1?

I wondered the same thing! It's an Ames lettering guide, and I found a page on how to use it. An Ames lettering guide guide, if you will.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:10 PM on June 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


I thought the whole point of Garfield is that it's an endless vista of despair? That it has heart, but that that heart is irreparably broken? Just me?

I was thinking about this some more, and realized that not only is this comic far less cynical than most takes on Garfield (which tend towards dark humor typically at the expense of John), but it's even less cynical than Garfield itself as the original text.

Syndicated Garfield's humor, such as it exists, tends to be a wry, world weary character commenting on how dumb and foolish everybody and everything else in the world is. John is typically the focus of that cynicism, so watching him be awkward in a relatable way instead of a deranged and clownish way is also refreshing.
posted by codacorolla at 5:58 PM on June 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


You know what, I loved Garfield as a kid. My first car had one of those suction cup Garfield's on it. I still kinda want a Garfield phone.

I since found and read better comics, but it really made me happy then.

The weird Garfield of the internet doesn't bother me, but it really has nothing to do with the fan I was then.
posted by emjaybee at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I read this this morning and have been thinking about it about it all day long. I too was that kid who wholeheartedly loved Garfield back when he was 'big' - my fourth-grade notebooks were covered in Garfield doodles, I had a room full of Garfield plushes and paraphernalia (emjaybee I had the phone ... and the bedspread ... god help me), I had all the books up to that point and eagerly snapped up each new one as they came out ... heck, when I moved to a new town where the local paper didn't run Garfield in the comics section (!!), my grandmother clipped every day's comic and would mail them to me in batches; I still have some of them because they remind me of her gesture of love at a time in my life when I, as a fat, shy girl in a new school I never did manage to fit into, really needed it. That kid in me is very happy this exists.

And I'd really like to think that there's a bigger trend here - this, the presence of two movies about Fred Rogers coming out this year, even the existence of a 'wholesomememes' subreddit ... it's interesting that in the past we've had trendy monsters that seem to take over our culture for a period - all that zombie crap, the vampires before that, aliens ... I'm sure I'm not the first or even the millionth person to notice this, but it's interesting and kind of heartening to see that when we're actually living in a time of monsters, our pop culture seems to have made room for humaneness. I'd love for that part of what we're currently going through to continue.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


I really don't think that the original strip was ever "an endless vista of despair", unless your definition of "despair" is recycling the same gags for decades with occasional nods to modernity, in which case, hello to virtually every long-running newspaper strip, with occasional exceptions (the new Nancy, Heathcliff) and very occasional alternate takes (such as the notorious His Nine Lives). Garfield was basically Grumpy Cat many years before there was a literal, physical Grumpy Cat.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:51 PM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I had a massive collection of Garfield books as a kid. This work is just amazing. So pure.
posted by gnutron at 8:51 PM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think I might pick up a few books for my kiddo. He just finished a giant Peanuts collection and loves cats. Might be right up his alley.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh I cried. It's so warm and positive and beautiful!... But also so comfortable, so impossible feeling.
posted by fleacircus at 8:53 PM on June 21, 2018


I found it terribly sad and so well done. Our new Jon, sweet, loved and successful is the author of the Garfield comics we are familiar with. He portrays himself so cruelly that there's no surprise he's afraid to meet Liz's friends and lacks confidence in his career. He is deeply anxious and full of self-loathing.
posted by b33j at 5:36 AM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


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