James Robert "Jim" Davis (born July 28, 1945) is the creator of the comic strip Garfield.
As a cartoonist, he has also worked on Tumbleweeds (as an assistant to Tom Ryan), Gnorm Gnat, U.S. Acres (Orson's Farm outside the United States), and Mr. Potato Head. He is the writer of all the CBS television specials and the direct-to-video movies, as well as a producer/executive producer for Garfield and Friends, the DTV movies, and The Garfield Show. He will be an executive producer for an upcoming film.
Jim Davis was born in Marion, Indiana on July 28th, 1945, and grew up on a small farm in Fairmount, Indiana with his father James William Davis, mother Anna Catherine (Carter) Davis, brother Dave, and twenty-five cats. Growing up, Davis recalled that after finishing his chores he would spend much of free time drawing; however he admitted his childhood drawings were of such poor quality that if he drew a cow he would have to label his drawing "cow", or else he would later fail to recognize his own work. Davis' childhood on a farm parallels the life of his cartoon character Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, who was also raised on a farm with his parents and a brother, Doc Boy. Jon, too, is a cartoonist, and also celebrates his birth-day on July 28th. Davis attended Ball State University. While attending Ball State, he became a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.
Ironically, considering his fame as a cartoonist who draws a cat, his first wife Carolyn (Altekruse) was allergic to cats although they owned a dog named Molly. They have a son, James Alexander Davis. On July 16, 2000, Davis married his current wife Jill. They have three children: James, Ashley, and Christopher.
Davis, as of 2007, resides in Albany, Indiana, where he and his staff produce Garfield under his company, Paws, Inc., begun in 1981. Paws, Inc. employs nearly fifty artists and licensing administrators, who work with agents around the world managing Garfield's vast licensing, syndication, and entertainment empire.
Davis is a former President of the Fairfax, Indiana FFA chapter.
Jim Davis started his first career as cartoonist in December 1962, drawing a comic for the Fairmount High School's student newspaper, The Breeze. As of today, the strip's title is unknown. The Breeze reported on the High School journalism class, something Davis was apart of. In 1963, Davis contributed to his his Senior Yearbook. The comic's lifetime was from December 13, 1962 to Davis' graduation, May 20, 1963. The Breeze was a weekly publication, and printed every Friday.
Davis' original career plan was to become an art teacher, but during college he went into business instead. In this period, his only public art was for his attempted on-campus political run. After Davis left college, he worked for a local advertising agency and in 1969 began assisting Tom Ryan's comic strip, Tumbleweeds, while maintaining the want for his own comic strip.
In 1973, Davis was hired by an Indiana newspaper, the Pendleton Times, to fill out the Letters to Editor page. The comic he created was Gnorm Gnat, a strip about the daily lives of bugs. It ran from 1973 to 1975 in the aformentioned. Davis tried to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, but an editor told him, "Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs — nobody can relate to bugs!". When ending it, the final strip was alleged to have had the title character killed off with a giant foot crushing him; the actual strip consisted of Gnorm standing next to bold letters stating "Merry Christmas" while saying "Thanks, Pendleton".
On January 8, 1976, Davis published Jon, a comic about a cartoonist's relationships, most especially with his cat. It was published in The Pendleton Times with a prototype version of Jon Arbuckle, Garfield, Spot (who would later be renamed to Odie), and Lyman. It would later be renamed Garfield on September 1st, 1977. The comic ended on March 2nd, 1978 with a new design of Garfield, and a goodbye letter from Pendleton, announcing that Jim would be syndicating the comic.
On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in forty-one news-papers. Things were going well until the Chicago Sun-Times canceled the strip, prompting an outcry from 1,300 readers. Garfield was reinstated and the strip quickly became the fastest selling comic strip in the world. Today it is syndicated in 2400 news-papers and is read by approximately 200,000,000 readers each day.
In the 1988-1994 cartoon series Garfield and Friends, one episode ("Mystic Manor") has a scene where Garfield slid down a fireman's pole in a haunted house, and Davis has a brief cameo as himself drawing a cartoon.
In the beginning of Garfield Makes It Big, there was a mock headline "NEWS FLASH! Jim Davis a Fraud!" showing Garfield at the drawing table creating a cartoonized Jim Davis, in which the article reads that, according to Pooky, Garfield has secretly done the comic strip the whole time, and merely hired Jim Davis to take the credit as no one would believe the strip was made by a cat.
In the 1980s, Davis also made the barnyard slapstick comic strip U.S. Acres, featuring Orson the Pig. Outside the U.S., the strip was known as Orson's Farm. Davis also made a 2000-2003 strip based on the toy Mr. Potato Head with Brett Koth. The idea was to do a strip from Davis' native farmland roots.
In 1999, Davis authorized Garfield and Odie to be used by Boys Life magazine and the Cub Scouts in order to promote recruiting, where Odie and Garfield are seen wearing Cub Scout uniforms near a campfire or doing other outdoor related activities.
In 2005, Davis appeared in the music video Lazy Muncie, a parody of the Saturday Night Live video "Lazy Sunday".
More recently, Davis founded The Professor Garfield Foundation, to support children’s literacy.
Starting with the November 28, 2011 comic strip, Garfield switched to digital production, with Davis now using a stylus on a tablet.
In 2017, Davis contributed to Squirrel Girl #26 with a series of comic strips depicting Marvel characters Galactus and the Silver Surfer in his style.
Following the sale of Paws, Inc. to Viacom, Jim Davis is forming a company named Funny LLC and will continue to write the comic strip.
|1982||Best Humor Strip Cartoonist||National Cartoonist Society|
|1983-84||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield on the Town TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1984-85||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield in the Rough TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1985||Elzie Segar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cartooning||National Cartoonist Society|
|1985-86||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Halloween Adventure TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1986||Best Humor Strip Cartoonist||National Cartoonist Society|
|1988-89||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Babes and Bullets, TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1988||Sagamore of the Wabash||State of Indiana|
|1989||Reuben Award for Overall Excellence in Cartooning||National Cartoonist Society|
|1989||Indiana Arbor Day Spokesman Award (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||Indiana Division of Natural Resources and Forestry|
|1990||Good Steward Award, (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||National Arbor Day Foundation|
|1991||Indiana Journalism Award (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||Ball State University Department of Journalism|
|1992||Distinguished Hoosier Award||State of Indiana|
|1995||Project Award||National Arbor Day Foundation|
|1997||LVA Leadership Award (Presented to Paws, Inc.)||Literacy Volunteers of America|
Davis appeared as himself (along with an animated Garfield) in an American Express commercial that was part of the "Do you know me?" campaign.
Davis was featured throughout Happy Birthday, Garfield.
Segments of Davis providing "tips and quips" are featured in Scholastic's Comic Book Maker Featuring Garfield.
- Various Cops
- Splut/Gorsh Voiceover ("Monday Misery")
- Jim ("Cutie and the Beast")
- Director aka J.D. (except "Mistakes Will Happen" and "Fill-in Feline")
- Man in Audience ("How to Be Funny")
- Buzz #3 ("Astrocat")
- Man #2 ("Binky Gets Cancelled Again!")
- Cowboy ("The Cactus Saga")
- Hot Dog Vendor ("Five Minute Warning")
- First Telephone Contestant ("Mystery Guest")
- Man ("The Garfield Workout")
- Adequate Theatre Announcer ("Video Airlines")
- Customer ("Urban Arbuckle")
- Dispatcher ("All Things Fat and Small")
- Man ("Cute for Loot")
- Cameraman ("Canine Conspiracy")
- Wrote the libretto to Love on a Leash.
- Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and Johnny Hart (B.C.) were Davis' primary inspirations.
- Among Davis' favorite comic strips are Zits, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, For Better or For Worse, Mother Goose and Grimm, Blondie, Cathy, Beetle Bailey, Pogo, Krazy Kat, Prince Valiant and Steve Canyon.
- Davis has revealed that his father's favorite comic strip was Beetle Bailey ("How's that for awkward?").
- Davis has a dog named Odie and a cat named Nermal.
- In Garfield at 25: In Dog Years I'd be Dead, Davis stated that Garfield in Paradise is his favorite TV special.
- Davis had the same high school gym teacher as actor James Dean, and went to Ball State University at the same time as television host David Letterman, who was in a rival fraternity.
- Davis guest-starred in the Too Close for Comfort episode "Garfield the Cat Joins the Marin Bugler".
- “I needed a name and thought of my grandfather James A. Garfield Davis, a big, cantankerous, cynical man. The name seemed to fit the personality and shape of the character.”
- “The name Odie is really an inside joke. I wrote a commercial for a local car dealership featuring Odie, the village idiot. I liked the name, so I used it again.”
- “The name Jon Arbuckle came from an old coffee commercial I remember hearing. I’d also used the name as an ‘expert source’ to add ‘credibility’ to my speeches. When I created the comic strip, the name just seemed to fit the kind of poor sap who would get stuck with a cranky cat like Garfield.”
- “Doc Boy was named after my own brother, Dave ‘Doc’ Davis. Doc isn't nearly as goofy as his cartoon namesake; he's goofier.”
- “I actually did have a waitress show me that she hadn’t shaved her legs. You can’t make up this stuff!”
- "I'm still a farm boy at heart. If I hadn't suffered from asthma as a child, I would be a farmer today."
- "I didn't have a whole lot of success getting dates, I was always a bit of a geek."
- "My dream in life is to write the one gag that makes everyone in the world laugh."
- "Cartooning is nice work if you can get it."
- "This whole line of work is to make people happy and smile. Getting paid for it is just a bonus. People should learn to laugh at themselves. That's the closest I come to making a statement."
- "One of my philosophies of cartooning, especially when encouraging hopeful cartoonists, is that they should have fun doing the gags. If you have fun doing them, people will have fun reading them."
- "I think Garfield is pithier and more profound now than he ever was before. I don't think it's that Garfield has changed dramatically since his beginning; it's more that society has, and humor in general is much sharper and more cutting than before."
- (When asked if he expected Garfield to be as successful as it has become) "No. I was hoping to earn enough money so that I didn't have to take a second job to support the strip. Mission accomplished!"