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Two Garfield Collections for Fans and for Those Not-So-Much-a-Fan
Reviews by Scott Tingley, January 02, 2009

I had grand plans to do up a clever and witty review of a couple of Garfield books that recently came on the shelves. It was going to be terrific. I even took notes. Then I lost the notes. Then I lost one of the books. Then I found the book only to lose the other book. Then I forgot about both books and went on to other things. Then I remembered, looked for and found both books but still could not find my notes.

It must be Monday (See what I did there with the Monday thing? That's about all the cleverness and wit you are going to get out of this one).

Did you know that Garfield turned 30 in 1998? Did you know that Garfield was really ugly for the first two of those years? This is just one of the things you can learn while reading Garfield: 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna , a retrospective of one of the most famous comic strips around.

It contains daily and weekend strips from all 30 years. The book breaks that time up into the three decades, which is a nice touch, allowing the reader to be conscious of the timeframe in which the strips were developed making it easier to track the subtle changes in art and humor choices. For instance, one thing I noticed while reading the dated strips is how much more expressive the character's faces got over the years.

One of the best features is at the back of the book there is a section with Jim Davis' 30 favorite strips, each accompanied by a notation from Davis . I think that is a terrific idea.

Basically, if you like or liked Garfield in the past, this is the book for you. It has a little bit of everything for the fan: comments and quotes by Jim Davis, color weekend strips, and a visual history of the strips development. If, on the other hand, you are not and were not a fan of Garfield , this book will not likely change your mind. Its all Garfield - You like it or you don't.

The second Garfield related book I have for you though is for the lifelong Garfield fan and for those that never saw what all the fuss was about.

Note: these next few questions are serious and not meant to be flip . Do you have dark, lonely times in your life? Do you sometimes question your own sanity? Do you dwell on perceived slights and insults? Do you experience crushing lows and super highs? Do you ever want to sit and cry? Maybe you do and maybe you don't.

Do you have a talking cat that provides punch lines to your dark and depressing moments making the world laugh while at the same time hiding those harmful wonderings?

Well that is the premise of Garfield Minus Garfield, originally a webcomic by Dan Walsh, now a book collecting the first 120 or so comics. Walsh has taken some of Jim Davis' original strips and removed the cat and Odie the dog leaving behind a lonely and delusional Jon Arbuckle, the animal's owner. Without the cat providing the comic relief Jon is revealed to be a deeply depressed, desperate and mentally unbalanced man. The strip is sometimes jarring to read and at other times it is brilliantly funny; sometimes it is both.

I don't speak with personal knowledge here, but I can imagine someone with Bipolar Disorder reading Garfield Minus Garfield and taking comfort that finally there is a form of popular entertainment that gets what they go through (I keep reading this comment over and over again, hoping it comes accross with the respect it is meant to carry).

This is a fantastic little book. You can check out the strips HERE . Included alongside each Minus strip is the original, unaltered strip. This provides a nice contrast, but I would suggest that you read all of the Minus strips before comparing them to the originals. In my opinion it allows you to immerse yourself in Jon's world - one without many punch lines.

There is nothing inappropriate for younger readers here, but I think it would be better suited for late elementary / middle school and up.

It started as a little strip for friends and then it turned into a sensation. I'm not sure how Walsh didn't get sued, but instead he seems to have gotten Davis ' blessing and he even contributes a few "minus" strips of his own.

Both good books. Both available now.

Garfield Minus Garfield by Jim Davis and Dan Walsh

· Paperback: 128 pages
· Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 28, 2008)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0345513878
· ISBN-13: 978-0345513878
· Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches

30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend! by Jim Davis

· Hardcover: 288 pages
· Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 28, 2008)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0345503791
· ISBN-13: 978-0345503794
· Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.6 x 1 inches



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