Garfield: The Thing in the Fridge
Mark Evanier, Scott Nickel (Writers), Antonio Alfaro, Aatmaja Pandya (Artists)
October 25, 2017
Garfield is the subject of many modern memes. I’m very pleased that, for some reason, Jim Davis’s creation hasn’t really changed at all. The Thing In The Fridge is a collection of three Garfield stories. For the uninitiated, Garfield is a large orange cat that is very lazy and eats a lot of food.
“But Garfield wasn’t just any cat; he’d raised slumber to an art form. He was the King of the 18-Hour Marathon Nap, a Super Snoozer.”
“In fact, One Time Slept Through a Monday and Woke Up On A Tuesday.”
Garfield really tears into his owner Jon, who usually has decent requests like “stop eating in the fridge at night” and “I’m concerned, I’m putting you on a diet.” Garfield’s internal monologue is always calling Jon a loser and a lunatic. He is a terrible cat; there are no redeeming qualities for this animal. I have cats, and they are much better than this callous dirtbag. This cat is unruly.
At some point Garfield encounters a Frankenstein’s Monster of food, and it is implied that it will murder Jon Arbuckle. Jon Arbuckle is dead now; this is Garfield Canon.
I recant that statement. Apparently it was a prank.
Is Garfield still funny? Does it, uh, “bring the laughs?” These are irrelevant to the grand Garfield Thesis. His status demands an unquenchable thirst slaked only by America’s Sanguine Fluid. Another story in the collection deals with Jon Arbuckle having trouble being on time for important events like dates or showing up at his job. Jon is then given a Faustian pact whereupon he needs the help of some machine in order to Permanently Be On Time. It’s really strange that most of the humor derived from Garfield and Jon’s relationship involves doing things typical of severe depressives.
The tipping point for Garfield is when Jon develops better habits and, for the most part, is taking better care of himself despite it devolving into Jon becoming very neurotic. They are affectionate for one another, but also it is probably the strangest codependent relationship for a man and a cat, where the man puts way too much into a cat that does not give anything back. Garfield is the True Pragmatist, seeing Jon Only As A Means to an end.
Okay, I need to calm the fuck down or I’m going to get into Hegelian Dialectics, shave off all my hair, and enter some sort of grim existential crisis trying to understand why people like Garfield comics. They’re not bad, but whatever the hell they actually are is difficult to quantify. You could just as easily ask me to write about the subject of Water or, say, Apples. What’s an apple? It’s a red fruit. It’s not going to rewrite the history of flavor, but it’s there, just being a solid fruit that is enjoyable to most.
I think the most fun comic in the collection is a segment drawn by Aatmaja Pandya (in a story written by the writer of the titular comic, Scott Nickel) whereupon Garfield wakes up as a human. He runs around with his dick out, realizes he has to put on clothes, and dresses up in clothing Jon clearly doesn’t own. Jon’s outfits (that he never wears) are apparently very twee, and for some reason he just continues to wear brown pants, blue work shirt, and weird clog looking shoes. What the hell kind of shoes does Jon wear? Are they just slippers?
Sorry. Anyhow, Garfield makes the rounds and is confused that nobody recognizes him being a dude instead of a cat. Which is weird because moments earlier Garfield is like, “Man, better not walk around with my human dick just waving around.”
For some reason this segment gives off mainly warm vibes, and we can sort of have a more enjoyable experience with the character by shaking up how we see him and how his normal, regular-ass Garfield habits would play out for a human. It’s the incongruity you’d want to employ if you’re doing Garfield stuff nowadays and you want to hold a modern audience’s attention while still saying, “Hey guys, look, it’s regular ol’ Garfield over here getcher Garf’s.”
It’s just cute as hell. It’s evocative of a slice of life anime where a Cat Becomes A Guy and does Guy Stuff. This is charming stuff. I’m warming up to this Garfield guy. My review in summation: Garfield is beyond death, and nave Aatmaja Pandya draw everything.