Home Arts The History of Garfield (And How to Draw Him)

The History of Garfield (And How to Draw Him)

by Luke Shen

I’ve been a huge fan of Garfield comics over the years, and since the deal between Nickelodeon and the Paws Inc. (the owner of Garfield), I’ve become more invested in the history of Garfield, and how the fat orange cat came to be. The Garfield Comics have touched millions of readers around the world, entertaining both kids and adults alike. The comic strip was introduced to newspapers in 1976, featuring Garfield, the orange cat and Jon Arbuckle, the owner. Garfield’s sarcastic attitude captivated audiences around the world, and by 1981, the comic was featured in 850 newspapers and made around 15 million dollars! In earlier comics, Jon had a roommate named Lyman, a side character of sorts, but he eventually disappeared in the comics, because he didn’t really add much to the comics. However, his pet dog Odie, a slobbering dog with a huge tongue, became the lovable and energetic sidekick of Garfield, often pranking and annoying Garfield. Over time, the illustrator of Garfield, Jim Davis, changed the style of the comic drastically, the first change starting in 1980. The change gradually lifted the fat folds on Garfield’s cheeks and straightened his hunch-backed spine. His eyes became bigger and more circular, giving him a more cartoonish and energetic style. Ten years later, the change was drastic, the overall quality of the images increased, sharpening the lines and making the eyes larger and more oval. This was the iconic Garfield look, and from then on, minimal changes were made. Other side characters such as Arlene and Nermal added to the character roster. Arlene is a pink cat, with a long neck, and is Garfield’s girlfriend. Garfield and Arlene have a close relationship, though oftentimes Garfield is a deadbeat boyfriend. After all, Garfield is known as the lazy fat cat! They’re often found together having dinner on the fence near the stars or on a “Lady and the Tramp” setting, with the checkered cloth and box. Nermal is a cutesy annoying little punk of a kitten, often using his cuteness to manipulate Jon to give him more treats. The attention seeking cat often competes with Garfield, prodding at his weight and age, for the attention of Pookie, Garfield’s teddy bear. The larger cast of characters allowed for the comics to vary in skits, providing new and interesting settings to keep the reader from getting bored. Overall, the comic had provided many people (including myself) with laughter and joy throughout the years.



Now, for how to draw Garfield (the most recent version). I’ve broken down the key components for the side profile of Garfield. Enjoy!


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