Monday, June 19, 2006

We're Ready to Party! We're Ready!

Q: How is Garfield's party hat staying on his head? I SEE NO ELASTIC STRAP.

Only in comics can you pull this kind of timing. Obviously missing is the moment when Jon and Odie pull out the massive 3-foot candle, crush the cake, and light the wick. During this missing time, Garfield has plenty of opportunity to see the gag and react. Thanks to the variable time-flow of pictographical storytelling, we don't have to witness these joke-killing seconds. But what fun to imagine them! Does Garfield see what Jon is about to do and try to stop him from ruining the cake?

Oh, the pleasure Jon and Odie take in this prank. Over the Hill parties are rife with gentle gallows humor... but the birthday boy ends up with real gifts and gets a slice of cake. Garfield's friends choose instead to insult him, and destroy the cake they made their grit-toothed grins the only prize, at the cost of having any communal, celebratory fun. Ha ha, jerks, you're 28 years older too. Well. Not Odie.

On this occasion of 28 years of Garfield, it is easy to look back and see how much the strip has changed. More satisfying for me is to see how much it has not changed at all. The eyes may be bigger, the jowls may be smaller, but Jon hasn't changed his shirt. As Garfield noted on his 15th birthday, the punchline today is the same as it was on June 19, 1978: Jon sits alone as Garfield is distressed and wants to be fed.

Happy birthday, Garfield. I'm pretty tough on you here at Permanent Monday, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't love you. I'll stick a candle in a lasanga for you, old buddy.


MAPS! MAPS! MAPS! said...

It wasn't his fifteenth, which one was it?

Flu-Bird said...

There gose a nice cake