Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Naked and the Vet

Oh, weird. Sometimes in Garfield the Joke Logic gets so thick it's hard to tell if the gag is being mangled by the rules and realities of the strip, or if the writing is playing with the conventions of the same.

Panel 1: Liz, a professional who works with animals, tries to win a cat over not with treats, petting, or attention, but diplomatic conversation as if he were a respected equal. She is not without a history of speaking to Garfield, but it is usually to threaten him about holding still for shots, or as an ironic confidant for sarcastic remarks about Jon; the excuse for most other instances has been that she's talking to Garfield "as if" he understood, knowing that he does not.

Panel 2: Whether she pulled Garfield aside when Jon stepped out to the bathroom, or she has requested a moment alone with Garfield to have this important talk, the situation is so creepy, it's no wonder Garfield is frozen in disbelief and fright before discussion starts. Liz also doesn't have Jon's ability to hold naturalistic one-sided conversations with Garfield that make sense: as far as Dr. Wilson is concerned, she and Garfield spend the remainder of the strip standing there staring at each other.

Panel 3: Here's where I'm positive the Joke Logic is the joke itself; Garfield's discomfort is crazy, out of character, and silly on many levels. Not the least of which is that everyone sees him naked all the time. Not the least of which is that friends may see each other naked under all sorts of circumstances. Also-not the least of which is that Garfield's lament is supposed to parallel an uncomfortable turn in the doctor-patient relationship, but he doesn't disrobe before or share any personal information with the vet. Aw. He thinks he's people! And so the way a simple joke has confused itself becomes the joke itself.


luke said...

What the hell happened to Liz!? She used to be just as sarcastic as Garfield, but ever since she asked Jon out she's acting like she has dementia.

Hmm, the same thing happened to Ellen, actually. Maybe Jon has some weird ability to give women mental illnesses.

Elliot said...

It's also made slightly creepy by the completely blank purple backdrop.

That good old horizontal line. Sometimes it's the table, sometimes it's the carpet, but it always makes the strip feel more like home and less like a darkroom.

Nik said...

Elliot, I was thinking the same thing. The blank background adds to the overall creepiness -- like we're watching a woman talk to a cat (and we can hear the cat's thoughts) as they float in some parallel dimension -- possibly limbo.

Jon hasn't so much left the room as Liz and Garfield have been swallowed up by some kind of cosmic fog.

Good Lord, Davis, give us the line representing the table before I lose my mind.

Anonymous said...

In the first frame, I think Garfield is scared to death by Liz's slightly roughened manhand. And while I can appreciate Liz's physique, she is most definitely a double-bagger.

becca-jo said...

maybe he means he's seen HER naked, and it's hard to be friends after that.

so true garf, so true.

murgatroid said...

I've read that if you remove Garfield's "thought" bubbles completely, the strip often ends up funnier than it would otherwise.
And after applying said technique to today's strip, I can hardly disagree.

Chris Stangl said...

Yeah, it would be funny to replace Hobbes with a drawing of a silent plush toy, too.

Anonymous said...

NOTE how the comic strip doesn't show the floor... maybe garfield is on the potty?

Nyperold said...

Hmm. becca-jo raises a point. I'm not sure if Liz would have given Garfield opportunity to see her naked, but Garfield has asked that Jon "do nothing with a towel on" before.

On the other hand, maybe he just means she's seen more of him -- that is, more parts of him -- than possibly anyone else has, including Jon. And that will always be in some part of his mind.