Thursday, August 03, 2006

Staring at the Ceiling


For those unfamiliar with Garfield shorthand, those puffs of smoke and drifting hairs in panel three do not mean Garfield has spontaneously combusted, so much as dashed off the table quickly.

Jon normally asks Garfield to carry in groceries for him? As long as you've accepted that your cat understands and emotionally responds to English, has opposable thumbs and walks upright comfortably, you might as well expect it to help around the house. The imagined sight of Garfield assisting Jon putting the groceries away in the kitchen cupboards, his furry hands clutching canned vegetables and opening the crisper drawer creeps me out though.

This joke eliminates from the narrative space half of the characters involved, the more visual and action-oriented perspective on the story, and poses its only half-catatonic on-panel cast to prevent any facial expressions. Not only that, but the only moment of kinetic action is dumped into the gutter between panels. Davis marries a joke about the sudden disruption of prolonged stasis, with a staging and timing that twist into agonized positions to avoid any depiction of action and excitement. Though the punchline is Garfield's frenzy and mad dash to the food, the rhythms of the panels show us only Garfield dozing and an empty table... depicted as a straight line across a blank field. Let the surface of the water be never unstill.

12 comments:

V. Propp said...

'Poses it's' in the third paragraph should be 'poses its'. Otherwise, a stimulating and provocative analysis.

EEK said...

In under a week I've become totally addicted to this blog. Garfield was my favorite comic when I was a kid, and,thanks to you, I'm loving it all over again. My favorite part was about you imagining his 'furry hands' placing groceries into the crisper. That comment made me smile, but also creeped me out a little.

DaveyK said...

I'm interested by Garfield's apparent ESP. He anticipates the fact that Jon wants helps with the groceries before the words are uttered, judging by the fact that the 3rd panel is empty before the words are out.

Perhaps Garfield assumes Jon would never ask for his help if it did not involve groceries, and simply takes a calculated risk?

Ian said...

I like to believe that Garfield decided, after a long week of sitting at the table, to lay on the floor to stare at the ceiling. There is no evidence to the contrary, and I'd rather think that the only place in Jon's hovel with enough dust to produce such clouds is his carpet.

Anonymous said...

I like that this strip is almost sort of a haiku (even if it doesn't quite fit the 3-5-3 syllable structure)

"Garfield, I'm home!
Could you help me
with these groceries?"

Elliot said...

Wow, I just came across the blog and am blown away by it. Please keep it up.

I would love to hear your comments on the extremely bizarre Halloween storyline from 1989. I just discovered the series today, and I'm suddenly more fascinated by Garfield than I've ever been before.

Loren said...

'Photobucket.com bandwidth exceeded' -- did ever three (or four, I suppose, depending on how one counts) strike more terror in one's heart? Is it this, or something more mundane, which explains the fact that we languish here on Sunday without even an exegesis of Friday's strip?

I would like to join the chorus of those attesting to their recent discovery of, and immediate addiction to, this blog. The grammatical nitpicking of myself and v. propp aside, it's superb. Thanks!

Gwen said...

Y'all could always send the grammatical nitpicking via email. That way it wouldn't, as you said, spoil the fun.

Loren said...

Gwen, that would unfortunately defeat the point of showing off.

DJ said...

I'd have to say grammatical errors are part of what give blogs their spunk. When I see errors on mine I usually just leave em.

That, and this bandwidth exceeded thing sux my b@llz!

v. propp said...

I apologise to everyone annoyed by my grammatical nitpicking - I should have emailed it, and I certainly didn't mean to imply that Permanent Monday is anything other than an outstanding contribution to contemporary Garfield scholarship.

Ryan Ferneau said...

I guess Stangy's taking a vacation. Until he gets back, we'll have to settle for rereading that quasi-haiku.