41 'Garfield' Facts: An Amazing American Comic Strip For Kids

Christian Mba
Feb 14, 2024 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Mar 28, 2022
tabby cat is accompanied by human owner

Garfield, the lazy, overweight, lasagne-loving, judgemental cat, debuted in 1978 in an American comic strip.

Its creator, Jim Davis, wanted to shift from the dominant dog-comic market around that time and present people with a cat, which soon became a heartthrob. His lazy attitude, love for food, and hatred for Mondays made it easy for people to relate to him.

The tabby cat is usually accompanied by his human owner, Jon Arbuckle, and a dog, Odie. Garfield's character gained more popularity than Odie. The comic strip is mainly based on the conversations that take place between Jon Arbuckle, Garfield, and Odie.

According to the comic strip, this famous cat was born in a restaurant kitchen on June 19, 1978, and his fascination with lasagne forced the restaurant owner to pick either him or the restaurant. Choosing his restaurant over this tabby cat, he sold him to a pet shop, from where Jon adopted him on August 19, 1978.

Jon was once the main protagonist of the strip. Because of Garfield's birthday, June 19 is celebrated as the National Garfield The Cat Day.

While there was a belief that Garfield was named after US President James Garfield, Jim Davis actually named this beloved cat after his grandfather, James Garfield Davis. Growing up with 25 cats in Indiana, Davis was well accustomed to a feline's characteristics and behaviors. He used this knowledge to create a character that resembles humans in many ways.

The moody cat was quick to enamor people, and in 1978, he found space in around 40 newspapers. Two years down the line, Garfield was a part of over 800 newspapers, and by 1982, the number shot up to 1,400. By 2018, over 200 million people read Garfield comic strips.

Marketing Strategy

Let's find out the strategies and ideas that made this comic feline character famous.

According to Jim Davis, through Garfield, he aimed at creating a 'good, marketable character.' Garfield and Jon are an odd pair, which is what added to the amusement.

He became successful as 'Garfield' fetched an annual $750 million to $1 billion merchandise earning.

The famous comic strip character has become a part of several television specials, series, live-action animated films, and direct-to-video animated films.

Jim Davis intentionally kept Garfield away from social and political linking. By being a cat, he is not Black or White, particularly young or old, obviously male or female, or representative of any nationality or race.

This made it easy for the opinionated cat to crack cynical jokes without being judged. However, the jokes were never thoughtlessly expressed opinions about social or political causes.

Later Davis once admitted that his understanding of politics is not that strong.

Jim Davis has also worked to make Garfield an international character so that people from every corner of the world could relate to him.

Davis did not use any seasons, rhythmic gags, or colloquialisms to make people feel that the tabby cat can be anyone living next door.

When it comes to his sleeping and eating patterns, those are also pretty universal.

This vision worked, and by 2013, the cat was part of over 2,500 journals and newspapers and the proud title owner of a Guinness World Record.

The global downfall of newspapers in 2013 hardly could affect Garfield.

With this success, Jim Davis planned the second stage of his marketing strategy: merchandising.

There were Garfield greeting cards, balloons, pajama tops, party napkins, coffee cups, stuffed toys, stickers, party napkins, nightgowns, alarm clocks, shirts, house slippers, books, calendars, bookmarks, mud flaps for trucks, underwear, bookmarks, suction cups, and the list goes on.

With Garfield finding its way to every other product, Davis was worried about its impact.

According to him, too much merchandising can harm the brand; it can lead to oversaturation, with people gradually getting sick of Garfield.

Therefore, in the '80s and '90s, when Garfield suction cups were hugely successful, Davis feared overexposure and pulled out all those dolls from the market for five years.

Such was the popularity of the orange tabby cat in those days that Davis used to spend just a little over 12 hours a week working on the comic strip and over 60 hours a week managing the license and merchandising ideas or deals.

Another marketing strategy that helped the comic character stay in the market and people's minds was Davis' lenient take on copyright infringement.

He genuinely appreciated every re-creation and re-imagination of the furry cat, which is rarely seen or heard of.

He realized the more his cat's face is seen, the more he will stay in the public sphere.

By 2018, 'Garfield' had a net worth of $800 million.

Cultural Aspect

Garfield's introduction has influenced the popular culture of the US and beyond. For years during the '80s and the '90s, Garfield was present all over the TV, from the Saturday morning cartoons to commercials. Let's dig deeper to see how this comic sensation influenced media and culture.

The 'Garfield' books were an immense hit from the moment of their launch. Such was the popularity that in 1982, seven 'Garfield' books made way into The NY Times list of bestsellers at the same time.

Garfield made its TV debut with 'Here Comes Garfield' in 1982. This followed with TV specials on Halloween, Christmas, and other occasions for a decade. The last one was aired in 1991.

To announce Garfield's TV specials, he was featured on the cover page of People magazine in 1982.

Garfield and Davis appeared in the American Express commercial 'Do You Know Me' that continued on prime-time TV for almost a decade.

The tubby tabby's one-liner at the end was the show-stealer.

Not only on the TV screens, but the fat cat also appeared in public events.

In 1984, Helium-filled Garfield balloons were first introduced at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Since then, Garfield balloons have become a common sight during Indianapolis 500 parades and some Bowl games.

Over 10 million suction-cupped 'Garfield: Stuck on You' were sold in three years.

Thanks to the orange cat's merchandising and licensing heft, he became a part of almost everything from coffee cups to pillow covers.

'Garfield And Friends' was the cat's first animated TV show that premiered in 1988 and continued till the '90s.

Later, in 2009, 'The Garfield Show' was launched, and 2019-2020 witnessed the 2D animated short series, 'Garfield Originals.'

Bill Murray, who portrayed Peter Venkman in Ghostbuster, provided Garfield's voice in the first 'Garfield' movie in 2004.

Made on a $50 million budget, this animated film raked in $200 million. Since then, more animated movies have been released.

In 2008, a webcomic titled 'Garfield Minus Garfield' took a fresh take on the comic strip by removing the feline and making Jon talk with himself; Jim Davis called the work inspiring.

The chubby orange cat has his share of video games; the first was released in 1984.

Garfield's popularity can well be gauged by his mention in the Guinness World Records and introduction of his very own day in the US National Day Calendar.

Several famous celebrities, including Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, own original 'Garfield' comic strips.

Impact On Kids

From appearing in comic books to video games, Garfield was omnipresent for the kids of that era.

Since his public appearance, Garfield has remained a favorite among children.

From children's tiffin boxes to school bags, Garfield was everywhere.

He also appeared in radio shows for children and shared space with none other than the then First Lady Barbara Bush in 1993.

Together, they read stories to millions of children on 'Mrs. Bush's Story Time,' a radio program.

Garfield also made appearances in many lasagne-themed birthday parties for kids.

There was often a rage among children to collect as many Garfield toys and products as possible.

As Davis wished, Garfield is and will continue to be among people for generations after generations thanks to his obsession with food, dislike for Mondays, and, not to forget, the media's love for this character.


Q: What food does Garfield hate?

A: Though Garfield loves to eat, he does not like raisins. At times, he also dislikes anchovy pizza.


Q: When was 'Garfield' made?

A: The 'Garfield' comic strip was first printed on June 19, 1978.


Q: How old is Garfield the cat?

A: Since he was born in 1978, Garfield's age is 43, as of June 2021.


Q: What is Garfield, the cat's middle name?

A: Garfield is actually the cat's middle name. His full name is James Garfield Davis. Jim named him after his grandfather.


Q: What kind of cat is Garfield?

A: Garfield is a pet cat with above-average intelligence and disdain for its owner and Mondays.


Q: What kind of cat breed is Garfield?

A: Comic character Garfield is a mixed Persian-tabby cat.


Q: When was Garfield, the comic strip cat, born?

A: Garfield's birth date is known to have been June 19, 1978, which is the date of the comic strip's first appearance.


Q: Who is the voice of Garfield the cat?

A: Many famous personalities have given their voice to the feline. A few of them are Bill Murray, Lorenzo Music, Tom Smothers, Jeff Bergman, and Chris Pratt.


Q: Why is Garfield the cat called Garfield?

A: Jim Davis selected Garfield's name from his grandfather, whose middle name was Garfield; he also got the inspiration for the cat's behavior from home: from the many cats he grew up with.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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