Friday, September 22, 2006

Orange Cats Can't Polka


The solidly funny reveal of Jon's idea of the relationship intensity-level between attending professional lectures and looking at hosiery is supported in each panel by more-or-less normal interaction turned into comedy mirrors by the various failings and passions of the characters. This is, in the end, a strip about how goofy and bad Jon's taste is, while straight man Liz is wearing a lemon-lime tube top.

1: Jon's sentiment is not unwelcome (Liz returns it), but the thrust of his character is in how he earnestly announces "I like you" as a way to start a conversation. Garfield stands by watching, though he is not usually interested in Jon's doings, which makes us ask: what was going on before this scene?

2: I cannot praise enough, nor do I need to unpack the image of a man announcing "I think it's time we took our relationship to the next level" as he simultaneously makes a mad dash away from a woman. It is maybe not as relevant to Jon and Liz's lives as some other people's, but it is a fine portrait of human romance through the ages.

3: Pointless observation (!): seven bubblettes is a lot of little circles to descend from a thought bubble.

If Polka-Karaoke Night sounds fun to you (it kinda does to me), and/or you don't think polka is inherently funny, you have fallen prey to a trance effecting many Garfield readers. After 27 years, it's easy to forget Garfield is a cat. The joke is that Jon has a designated night that he sings polkas to his cat. Normally he is alone for this, but now that he has a girlfriend, she and Jon get to take turns singing to each other... and the cat. God help me, I want to see the strip where Jon spends hours trying to coax Garfield to do a Frankie Yankovic number.

Unlikely: -That Jon is able to hook up a microphone and amp and lug a full-sized accordion (they're heavy, folks) into the room with enough speed to surprise Liz. This is timing that works pretty well in Bob Clampett cartoons, and can be done in radio, but functions effortlessly in comics.
-That the karaoke festivities require live instruments, which would be more of a "Sing-Along as Jon Plays Accordion Night."
-That Garfield would be so happy about polka karaoke night. Unless he's being sarcastic and/or rubbing it in to Liz that this is what her life has become.

Meanwhile... The Let's Polka blog is incensed over today's strip. Please let this start a war between a polka blog and a Garfield blog: WELCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY! The critics say Garfield is toothless; I say let 'em eat my big fat hairy deal.

7 comments:

Allen said...

Am I the only one who glanced at panel three and thought that Liz's hand on her chest was Jon trying to cop a feel?

Ben said...

You seem to have forgotten that time in Garfield is not linear but is often stretched. I think Liz's taken-a-backness is because Jon has been gone for hours. She has spent the intervening time staring at our furry friend and glancing at her watch. Suddenly he is back, when all hope was lost. Is that a weapon in his hands? Is he an axemurderer? Look at the maniacalness of his smile.

Garfield? Sarcastic? Yes. He's clearly reveling in Liz's uncomfortableness and dreaming of the day when he can terrorize Jon without this meddler making Jon happy. With Liz around all of his plans to change Jon into a weeping pile are dashed by the countervailing force of Liz's HUGE lips.

In the end I take heart in Jon's ability to accept himself enough to share what for most people would be closet joys. Let your freak flag fly Jon!

lisa said...

There was an episode of The Daily Show a few years ago where Jim Davis was interviewed along with a polka enthusiast who resented the constant teasing. The guy had an imaginary conversation with Jim on a Garfield phone then wrestled a giant plush Garfield.

Seriously.

Gabe said...

Heh. I once beat up my friends giant plush Garfield while I was drunk.

Also, you gotta wonder what Liz thought he was getting. Condoms? Handcuffs? Two-headed dildo?

I always kinda pictured Liz as a BSDM dom.

Anonymous said...

Gabe: I've always thought she looks like a stern mistress, too. Although, it seems counter-intuitive that after not giving Jon the time of day for SO long, she'd turn around and start paddling him.

Also, that tube top is kinda hot.

Why are the polka people upset? The main character of the strip loves polka. That's better exposure than they get in the rest of media combined.

Anonymous said...

I also like how Jon is just slamming a party hat on Liz against her will.

John Bauer said...

When I sing to my dog, he either starts barking or howling, depending on the song and whether he's on the ground or in my arms. Maybe Garfield is the same way on karaoke nights.