diets, lasagna and social disorders: why has garfield been around this long?
Garfield turns 25 this week. That's 25 years of comic strips that I, for one, found rather stultifying and hardly ever funny. Like Hagar and Beetle Bailey, Garfield is just old, tired jokes in a new setting. Whether you're on a Viking ship, at an army camp or hanging out with your idiot owner by the telephone, that joke about being fat is not going to get any funnier just because the scenery has changed.
I don't even read the comic section of the paper anymore. Not like when I was little and practically waited at the front door for the newspaper kid in the morning so I could be the first to see what new adventures awaited Dondi. You don't remember Dondi, do you? He was a big-headed orphan kid who got into all kinds of adventures. I was a kid when I read Dondi, so I related to his stories. Of course, being a kid didn't stop me from reading Apartment 3G, most of which I didn't understand but followed like a soap opera anyhow. I half-heartedly followed the Peanuts gang, but my image of that whole crowd was ruined forever by an hysterical parody of the strip in Mad Magazine sometime in the 70's, with the gang as hippies. I used to read Broom Hilda and Gasoline Alley and, yes, I followed the trials and tribulations of Brenda Starr right up until the moment Brooke Shields ruined the glamour for me.
I read my comic strips online now. I don't even get a paper edition of the news delivered to my house these days. I used to, just for the comics, but I got tired of spending a few dollars a week just for more jokes about Garfield and his lasagna or Cathy's diet or that god-awful Family Circus and its treacly messages. I read Boondocks once upon a time, but that got tired fast. Doonesbury, Ziggy, For Better or Worse; their jokes are on perpetual repeat, an endless loop of the same one-liners over and over, just different characters saying the punchline.
Perhaps it's my sense of humor. I'd rather read repeats of Calvin and Hobbes than new Garfield strips. I prefer Captain Ribman to Dick Tracy. I'd much rather read Achewood than any humorless, gimmicky, product-heavy strip in today's paper.
If you've enjoyed 25 years of Jon's bad social disease and Garfield's eating disorder, more power to you. Have a lasagna in Garfield's honor today. But try something different, too.
These are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, if I don't hit the road in the next 1 minute, 32 seconds, I'll hit every red light and be stopped by every school bus between here and work. If you have a favorite online comic, drop a link in the comments.