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James Robert "Jim" Davis (born July 28, 1945) is the creator of the comic strip Garfield.

As a cartoonist, Davis 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 wrote all of 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 was an executive producer for The Garfield Movie.



Davis in 1962.

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 completing 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 Fairmount High School in Marion, Indiana and Ball State University in Muncie. 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 with his family.

Davis is a former President of the Fairfax, Indiana FFA chapter.


Pre-Pendleton Collection-15

An illustration Davis contributed to his senior yearbook, the 1963 Whirlwind. According to one article, Davis also used this character (named "Herbie") in a school newspaper strip around the same time.

Jim Davis started his first career as cartoonist in December 1962, drawing a comic for the Fairmount High School's student newspaper, The Breeze. The Breeze was run by his school's journalism class, something Davis was a part of. The strip's title is unknown, and no copies are known to survive.

In 1963, Davis contributed to his his Senior Yearbook, The Whirlwind, which potentially reused many of the characters from his lost comic.

Davis' original career plan was to become an art teacher, but during college he switched to a background business instead. In this period, his only published art was in a letters-to-the-editor submission from 1966. 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. Davis tried to have the comic syndicated nationally several times, but as one editor allegedly told him: "Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs — nobody can relate to bugs!" Years later, Davis would claim the final strip featured Gnorm Gnat being killed off. In actuality, the final comic 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 and his personal relationships, most especially with his cat. It was published in The Pendleton Times with a prototype version of Jon Arbuckle, Garfield, Spot (who would become Odie), and Lyman. It would later be renamed Garfield on September 1st, 1977. The comic ended on March 2nd, 1978 with a goodbye letter from Pendleton, announcing that Jim would be syndicating the comic.

Chicago exclusive comic

A unique comic, published only in the Chicago Sun-Times, celebrating Garfield's return to the paper.

On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in forty-one news-papers. The comic continued to grow in popularity. In October 1978, when the Chicago Sun-Times canceled the strip, the newspaper received massive backlash from its readers. Garfield was reinstated, and as it grew to more papers, it 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.


Davis displaying a Garfield strip in 1979.

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.

As Garfield's popularity grew, Davis founded Paws Incorporated in 1981 to support the comic strip and manage the business concerns of the franchise. Initially the company was solely focused on licensing, but over time it expanded to include both creative and business aspects and was the sole owner of the copyrights and trademarks for Garfield and the other characters in the franchise. Davis served as president of Paws and was involved in much of the day-to-day business of the company. The company was headquartered in Albany, Indiana, where Davis and his staff at Paws, Inc. produced the Garfield comic strip and other media between 1981 and 2019. Until its sale to Viacom, Paws, Inc. employed nearly fifty artists and licensing administrators, who worked with agents around the world managing Garfield's vast licensing, syndication, and entertainment empire.

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.


Davis in 1998 at an event related to Garfield's 20th anniversary.

In 1999, Davis authorized Garfield and Odie to be used by Boys Life magazine and the Cub Scouts in order to promote recruiting, with Odie and Garfield wearing Cub Scout uniforms near a campfire or doing other outdoor related activities. Dave Dominick of the Crossroads of America Council, a friend of Davis and a huge Garfield fan, asked for permission to use Garfield in the 1997 Cub Scouting recruitment campaign.[1] A Garfield PSA for the Cub Scouts aired on television in 2000.

More recently, Davis founded The Professor Garfield Foundation, to support children’s literacy.


Davis sketching Garfield digitally.

Starting with the November 28, 2011 comic strip, Garfield switched to digital production, with Davis now using a stylus on a tablet.[2] Davis' current roles on the strip are writing, rough sketches and some inking, with assistants handling the other tasks.[3] [4]

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.


Davis in his home in 2023.

In 2019 Davis sold Paws, Inc to Viacom (now known as Paramount Global). As part of the deal, Viacom acquired all Garfield's productions, characters, and trademarks (with the exception of the live action and direct-to-video Garfield movies, which were owned by Walt Disney Studios via 20th Century Fox) from Paws and placed the franchise under the Nickelodeon brand. Prior to the sale of Paws, Inc. Davis formed a company named Funny, LLC to hold the rights to the comic strip, which he continues to write from his home in Indiana.[5]




Year Award Presenting Organization
1972 Best Actor Indiana Theatre League
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

Live appearances[]

Davis appeared as himself (along with an animated Garfield) in an American Express commercial that was part of the "Do you know me?" campaign.[6]

Davis was featured throughout Happy Birthday, Garfield!.

Segments of Davis providing "tips and quips" are featured in Scholastic's Comic Book Maker Featuring Garfield.

Voiceover roles[]

Garfield and Friends[]

Davis was initially the voice director for Garfield and Friends, with Mark Evanier casting new roles. After Davis became too busy for the job, Evanier replaced him as the series voice director.[7]




Davis with Henry Rush (Ted Knight) in Too Close for Comfort.


Davis in "Lazy Muncie"

  • 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.
  • In 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend! and Age Happens: Garfield Hits the Big 4-0, Davis lists the June 19, 1978 strip as his personal favorite.
  • 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 as himself in the 1986 Too Close for Comfort episode "Garfield the Cat Joins the Marin Bugler".
  • In 2005, Davis appeared in the music video "Lazy Muncie", a parody of the Saturday Night Live video "Lazy Sunday".
  • 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.


  • “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!"[8]


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