7 Hilarious Garfield Variants

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The comic strip Garfield has endured since 1978, when Jim Davis invented the lovable triad of Garfield, Odie, and their owner Jon Arbuckle. As a seven-year-old kid, I was a big fan -- Garfield loved lasagna, and so did I. Odie (the dumb dog) was Garfield's nemesis, so I decided that dogs were dumb. Garfield hated Mondays and diets...you get the idea.

Garfield as a comic strip succeeds mainly because it's so accessible and bite-sized, featuring a predictable three-panel format. This accessibility has made the cartoon bland, leading creative cartoonists to remix Garfield into new strips, often reusing art, dialogue, and other portions of the original. While the remixes are of questionable legality (many are arguably parodies, others maybe not), they are consistently funny and weird. Because the humor primarily involves bleak madness, absurdism, and the absence of Garfield as a meaningful companion, comparisons to the work of Beckett come up a lot.

The primary fact that's central to most of these alternate versions of Garfield is that, in the actual comic, Jon can't hear Garfield's thoughts. By shifting the perspective away from Garfield's inner life, Jon's life comes into sharp relief: he's an isolated man whose home life with his pets is, at best, troubling. Enjoy!

1. Realfield

Garfield has been replaced with a regular orange tabby, minus thought bubbles. The site is in Spanish, but an auto-translation does a good job of explaining the effect:

Jon goes from being a beloved character to be a paranoid and shy type who talks to his cat ... which of course is not answered.

(More Realfield.)

2. De-Garfed

Garfield's thought bubbles have been removed, but nothing else changes. Jon's paranoia is revealed.

De-Garfed

(More De-Garfed.)

3. Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield has been removed completely. Jon is alone with his madness, and there's a whole book of this (listing Jim Davis as the author, though these strips are based on work by Dan Walsh...which are based on work by Jim Davis).

Garfield Minus Garfield

(More Garfield Minus Garfield.)

4. The Garfield Randomizer

What if you randomly recombined Garfield panels to make a new comic? Would it still be funny? You be the judge.

The Garfield Randomizer

(More Garfield Randomizer. A similar, but non-customizable, site is the Garfield Generator.)

5. Garkov

What happens when you extract all the text from the Garfield strips, put it in a database, then extract and combine it using a math/logic process called a Markov chain? Garkov!

Garkov

(More Garkov.)

6. Barfield

In which Garfield has some intestinal issues. (Note: it gets pretty gross.)

Barfield

(More Barfield.)

7. Lasagna Cat

Deeply weird videos, some involving live action, recreating original Garfield strips. Here's one (there are dozens), bearing the description "Garfield is caught trying to harm Odie with a bone":

(More Lasagna Cat on YouTube; see also LasagnaCat.com.)

More Alternate-Universe Garfield Stuff

Check out Arbuckle, a community project in which artists re-draw the strip, minus Garfield's thought bubbles, but retaining Jon's dialogue. Also, don't miss The Death of Garfield, a collection of strips in which Garfield assumes his "death pose" and his thought bubbles are removed, raising the possibility that Garfield is indeed dead. Nothing Garfield is similar -- a collection of edited strips in which most of the text has been removed, typically leaving us with a very odd impression of Garfield and Jon. Finally, Garfield Variations features (mostly charming, sometimes NSFW) re-drawn variants of Garfield in new contexts.

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August 31, 2011 - 1:40pm
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