Monday, September 18, 2006

Speak! The Cat


What an odd pregnant pause that is in panel 2, as Jon waits for a response from Garfield. So today the gag is that Garfield sort of silently "pleading the Fifth", as it were, until he cannot avoid the question, and his silence insults Jon by implication. That's a standard enough joke, but the complicated part for this strip is that Garfield can't speak; silence is expected from a cat in reply to direct questions.

Now, careful readers who are not smart-asses about such things, understand that while Jon cannot "hear" the cat, he is generally able to read Garfield's responses from nonverbal cues. This means Garfield is not only hesitant to provide Jon an answer he can understand (rolling his eyes, walking away, etc.), but also refuses to "think" an insult, which the reader and Garfield would enjoy. The timing of this gag involves a second panel that looks empty, but is actually playing with the expectations of the characters and reader, and the established rules that govern the storytelling. This is all in service of a bigger and better dis, which is to entirely ignore a man, and stare right through him, implying that his expression of concern for your feelings means nothing to you.

6 comments:

Vincent said...

The silent middle panel always carries much weight.

Also - and this doesn't work with all Garfield strips - reversing the second and final panels struck me as a fun exercise today.

Allen said...

Is Jon disappointed by Garfield's implied "No"? He seems almost to hope for a "Yes," and is hurt that Garfield isn't jealous of this wonderful human relationship he's gotten himself into.

murgatroid said...

Jon is dependent upon Garfield's affection even now, after finally snagging his first (human female) soul-mate.
I don't know whether that's endearing or horrific.

Anonymous said...

It could be I'm lame but I find this strip completely devoid of humor. Yes, Vincent, shifting the second panel around is at least enjoyable...perhaps moving it to the first frame?

John Bauer said...

Which way is the jealousy supposed to go? Does Jon want Garfield jealous because he isn't %#W%ing Liz, or jealous because he doesn't get to hang out with Jon as often?

Anonymous said...

Surely in panel 2 Garfield is actually thinking something. Something like "No", or perhaps, "If I stand still long enough, maybe Jon will go away." Why is it that Garfield's thoughts are only selectively reported?