Garfield – Jim Davis

This was the comic strip that started it all for me.

First ever Garfield comic strip

My earliest memory of comics is being obsessed with these Garfield pocket books. They had brightly coloured covers, and Garfield grinning ear to ear on them. So much nostalgia in these books.

My paperback Garfield book collection circa 1993.

I had every one of the books pictured here, plus a few others I’m sure. Unfortunately, I don’t still have them today. I’m a little jealous of this collection.

My parents were big readers. They had a huge collection of books in our home. They were also great lovers of second-hand bookshops. Anytime we visited a new town, there would be time dedicated to scouring a bookshop. Garfield was my salvation for these potentially quite boring trips. It was probably also my first experience of having a collection. I’m sure these little books were a marketing masterstroke. I wanted them ALL! Long before Pokemon.

Jim Davis surrounded by merchandise

Jim Davis is a great businessman, who built a huge empire around Garfield.

He gets criticism for handing off the art and writing duties for the strip. A comic strip is such a personal expression of one individual, I can see how this might undermine that singular vision. However, he’s been making the strip for decades. It grew to be so much more than when it started.

No-one criticises Walt Disney for being the man behind a huge empire. He was certainly not the sole artist. I think it’s a double standard that is unfair.

Jim Davis still has a great involvement with the day to day creation of everything Garfield.

My first ever attempts at comics were definitely Garfield rip-offs.

I think this is a pretty common story amongst cartoonists my age. I wish I could thank Jim Davis for setting me on this path. There’s a small chance he could read this, so from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU JIM!

My first ever attempt at comics strips

Garfield is an exercise in simplicity and subtraction. Jim Davis has a limit on how many words he puts in one strip. This distillation of ideas makes for a potent creation, and is ideal for early readers.

Garfield comic strip

I discovered recently that you can read every single strip, archived by the date they were first published. I’m sure this is not officially sanctioned by the Paws estate, but it is nice.  

For me, it provided an interesting case study. I’ve been providing my work free to read online, with the idea that it actually helps rather than hinders book sales. I read about a year’s worth of Garfield for free on my tablet. And now I’ve looked up book collections and have bought one. Even though it is all there for free to read online, I’d still rather have it in book form.

Whilst that may be a shifting opinion, it still proves true for me at the moment.

Jim Davis at the drawing desk
Jim Davis at the drawing board

I would highly recommend checking out the 1 hr + interview with Jim Davis via the Stripped Documentary. I got the STRIPPED SUPER AWESOME DELUXE EDITION, which has every interview and behind the scenes extra available. I backed it on Kickstarter and it remains a constant source of inspiration.

Band Of One Website Design

The Band Of One website has been long overdue a proper redesign. I finally found the time to put my plans into action to make this site into a proper home for my comics and animations.

One of the features of the new design I’m most excited about is if you visit the website on a desktop computer, you will see the comic strips presented in full page format as originally intended.

However if you choose to land here on your phone or tablet, you will find a mobile friendly vertical scroll format. In many ways I like this even better!

Certainly with some of the Warped comics the long vertical panels feel tailor-made for this infinite scrolling format. It makes for a very satisfying reading experience.

If you were in need of an excuse to catch up on what we’ve been producing at Band Of One inc recently, then now is a great time to do so.

Website design is a fluid concept, especially in my hands. I’m sure more changes will come, so if you happen to find anything broken or confusing please reach out and let me know. I can then work on making this site the best it can be. 

Anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of the new design may like to know I used WordPress and more specifically the Toocheke theme which is purpose built for webcomics

A doff of the cap to Brad and Dave at ComicLab Podcast for suggesting Toocheke as a CMS. I’ve been a long time fan of their podcasting pursuits from even before ComicLab and you can’t go too far wrong listening to their show for advice with the added bonus that they are always highly entertaining. 

Happy holidays!