Welcome to Notes from a Far-Flung Correspondent, which features the weekly interests and musings of Bossy’s Son, who is currently enjoying his sophomore year at Columbia University in the City of New York.
This week: Garfield Minus Garfield.
I’ve never been much of a Comic Book Guy, but he used to have entire bookshelves full of Garfield comics, and somewhere between playing-card fights and living room hockey and underwater handstand competitions, we managed to read quite a few of them.
The driving comedic force behind Garfield comics — frankly, its entire raison d’être — is the relationship between Jon and Garfield. Jon provides the amicably pitiful, Garfield the wickedly snarky, but the two of them endure together in a life partnership of endless lasagna.
But what happens if we insert a little reality into the mix? What if Garfield is de-anthropomorphized? What if Jon is just a single man without a talking, attitude-y cat?
Here’s what happens:
This is Garfield Minus Garfield the personal project of Dan Walsh, a self-labeled Irish musician, artist, nerd, and businessman. By carefully Photoshopping Garfield-the-cat out of every frame, Walsh has begun a psychological study whose premise sounds more like the tagline of a Roth novel than a comic book. Walsh writes, It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.
For sure, Jon sans cat is a touchingly, hauntingly lonely man. But there’s a quiet humor here too, something that stretches beyond the loneliness; it calls for the viewer to fill the role of the missing Garfield, to supplement these existential crises with the necessary humor. And this, to me, seems to be the essential human condition: confronting periods of loneliness and self-doubt and positivistically enduring through them.
Or maybe he’s just a goofy guy with no friends.
Click here to read creator Dan Walsh’s charming interview with The New Yorker.