Saturday, August 19, 2006

How Does Your Garfield Grow?


Panel One: Garfield is giving us gardening tips, one amateur horticulturist to another, though with his trademark dearth of enthusiasm. As usual, the strip flows smooth as honey, but after staring at it for a few minutes, subtle cracks emerge in the surface: is Garfield telling us about the benefits of talking to plants because he knows Jon is doing it, and is leading us to Jon for a demonstration? Or do the events happen to coincide? Garfield's surprise in panel two is partly because of the nonsense Jon is spouting, but couldn't Garfield see Jon a foot away down the table when he started walking and talk/thinking with the reader?

Answer: The rules of how light and sound travel between off-panel and on-panel spaces is variable depending entirely on the requirements of joke mechanics. We understand this intuitively about other laws of physics in comics, but the relationship between the on-panel and off-panel is so subtle the bending reality may not even register.

Panel Two: Jon's fear is funny for any number of reasons (e.g. - how much are elbows supposed to match? How can you tell when wearing a long-sleeved shirt? Why is this inspiring terror?), not least of which is that he seems to be asking for a second opinion from the plant. Since he usually gets a response from his housepets, maybe this isn't such ridiculous behavior.

Panel Three: Garfield: Actually mad that Jon hurt a plant, because he cares about plants? Disgusted that Jon has upset his gardening lesson for the reader? Or looking for any excuse to smack Jon? You decide.

6 comments:

B said...

This strip actually made me laugh. Does this mean my sense of humor will be revoked?

EEK said...

It made me laugh too. I'm not sure if it's John's random comment regarding his elbows, the plant instantly dying or Garfield's act of physical violence. Regardless, the chemistry was right and I laughed.

Aaron said...

Garfield used to eat houseplants, right? He's mad at Jon for spoiling his would-be snack.

Chris Stangl said...

No offense, but if Per-Mon has one mission, it's to notify the world that it's okay to laugh at Garfield.

shaun said...

An interesting point about panel one Garfield's comment. The barebones simplicity of the standard kitchen table background denies us any context in time. We do not know how long the gap between panels one and two is. Given John and Garfield's tendency not to show their age, it is possible this is twenty years down the line. Or twenty seconds. Is Davis making a point about recurrent themes in our life and relationships with others, cutting and splicing freely between decades to show us how much Jon and Garfield truly share? Both know that one should talk to plants, but Garfield is unable because he cannot speak(and, were he able, probably would be slothfully unwilling), Jon because his nature is to be incapable. Garfield tells us again that we are all failures, but each of us for our own unique reason.

Firebird said...

Jon just bored it to death