Jim Davis (cartoonist)

James Robert Davis (born July 28, 1945) is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of the comic strips Garfield and U.S. Acres (a.k.a. Orson's Farm). Published since 1978, Garfield is one of the world's most widely syndicated comic strips.[1] Davis's other comics work includes Tumbleweeds, Gnorm Gnat and Mr. Potato Head.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis cropped.jpg
Davis in 2010
Born
James Robert Davis

(1945-07-28) July 28, 1945 (age 74)
EducationBall State University
OccupationCartoonist
Years active1969–present
Notable work
Garfield
(1978–present)
U.S. Acres
(1986–1989)
Spouse(s)Carolyn Altekruse (divorced)
Jill Davis (m. 2000)
Children3
Parent(s)James William "Jim" Davis (father)
Anna Catherine "Betty" Davis (mother)
Signature
Cartoonist-jim-davis-signature.png

Davis wrote and co-wrote all of the Garfield TV specials for CBS, originally broadcast between 1982 and 1991. He also produced the Garfield & Friends Saturday Morning series, which aired on the channel from 1988 to 1994. Davis was the writer and executive producer for a series of CGI direct-to-video feature films about Garfield, as well as an executive producer for the CGI animated TV series The Garfield Show.

Personal lifeEdit

 
Jim Davis, yearbook photo, 1962

James Robert Davis was born in Marion, Indiana, on July 28, 1945.[2] Davis grew up on a small farm in Fairmount, Indiana, with his father James William "Jim" Davis, mother Anna Catherine "Betty" (née Carter) Davis, and his brother, Dave Davis. Davis's childhood on a farm parallels the life of Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, who was also raised on a farm with his parents and a brother, Doc Boy. Jon is a cartoonist, who also celebrates his birthday on July 28. Davis attended Ball State University where he studied art and business. While attending Ball State, he became a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.

He worked for various things for his high school, such as his schools newspaper called Breeze in 1962 and his senior yearbook in 1963 Senior Wills. The first character he made was called Herbie, a senior. The earliest comic strip appeared in the yearbook on May 21, 1963.[3][4]

Davis has been married twice, first to Carolyn (Altekruse), who was allergic to cats,[5] though they owned a dog named Molly.[6] They have a son.[5][7] On July 16, 2000, Davis married Jill, who had two children from a previous marriage.[6]

Davis joined the faculty of Ball State University in Muncie as an adjunct professor in fall 2006, lecturing on the creative and business aspects of the comics industry.

Davis resides in Albany, Indiana, where he and his staff produce Garfield under his Paws, Inc. company, launched in 1981. Paws, Inc. employs nearly 50 artists and licensing administrators, who work with agents around the world managing Garfield's vast licensing, syndication, and entertainment empire.

Davis is a former president of the Fairmount, Indiana FFA chapter.[8]

In December 2019, Davis announced that he would be holding weekly auctions for all hand-painted Garfield comics made from 1978 to 2011. As Davis explained, he started drawing comics digitally using a graphics tablet in 2011. Older comics remained sealed in a climate-controlled safe, and Davis had to figure out what to do with them.[9]

CareerEdit

 
Jim Davis and Garfield at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in 2010

Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for an advertising agency, and in 1969, he began assisting Tom Ryan's comic strip, Tumbleweeds. He then created a comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, that ran for three years (1973–1975) in The Pendleton Times, a newspaper in Pendleton, Indiana.[10] When Davis attempted to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, an editor told him: "Your art is good, your 'gags' are 'great', but bugs—nobody can relate to bugs!"[11] He then began studying the comic strips; still firmly believing that animals were funny, he took note of how Snoopy was not only a scene stealer in the Peanuts comic strips, but that he was far more of a marketing success than his owner Charlie Brown. Deciding that the comic market was oversaturated with dogs, he decided to create a cat character as the lead of his next strip instead.[12]

From 1976 to early 1978, Davis then published a strip titled Jon in The Pendleton Times which would later become Garfield, starting syndication in 41 newspapers on June 19, 1978.[10] Today it is syndicated in 2,580 newspapers and is read by approximately 300 million readers every day.[13]

In the 1980s, Davis created the barnyard slapstick comic strip U.S. Acres. Outside the U.S., the strip was known as Orson's Farm. Davis, along with Brett Koth, also made a 2000–03 strip based on the Mr. Potato Head toy.

Davis founded the Professor Garfield Foundation to support children's literacy.[14]

His influences include Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois, Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon and Johnny Hart's B.C.[15]

AwardsEdit

Year Award Presenting Organization & Sciences
1984–85 Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield in the Rough, TV special, CBS
1985 Elzie Segar Award for Contributions to Cartooning National Cartoonist Society
1986 Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Halloween Adventure, TV special, CBS Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
1986 Best Strip National Cartoonist Society
1988–89 Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Babes and Bullets, TV special, CBS Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
1988 Sagamore of the Wabash State of Indiana
1989 Reuben Award for Overall Excellence in Cartooning National Cartoonist Society
1989 Indiana Arbor Day Spokesman Award (presented to Jim Davis and Garfield) Indiana Division of Natural Resources and Forestry
1990 Good Steward Award (presented to Jim Davis and Garfield) National Arbor Day Foundation
1991 Indiana Journalism Award (presented to Jim Davis and Garfield) Ball State University Department of Journalism
1992 Distinguished Hoosier State of Indiana
1995 Project Award National Arbor Day Foundation
1997 LVA Leadership Award (presented to Paws) Literacy Volunteers of America
2016 Inkpot Award (presented to Jim Davis) San Diego Comic-Con International

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Garfield comic strip makes Guinness Book of World Records". bizjournals. January 28, 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  2. ^ De Weyer, Geert (2008). 100 stripklassiekers die niet in je boekenkast mogen ontbreken (in Dutch). Amsterdam / Antwerp: Atlas. p. 244. ISBN 978-90-450-0996-4.
  3. ^ "My Garfield Vacation: A Historical Voyage". June 12, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  4. ^ Pre-Pendelton
  5. ^ a b "Those Catty Cartoonists," Time magazine, December 7, 1981; available online at Time magazine website.
  6. ^ a b "Jim Davis - Everything2.com". everything2.com.
  7. ^ NNDB profile. Retrieved March 15, 2008.
  8. ^ "National FFA Organization Prominent Members" Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, National F.F.A. Organization (PDF)
  9. ^ "Garfield Cartoonist Jim Davis Is Putting 30 Years of Strips Up for Auction". io9. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Quinton Reviews (YouTube) - "Finding Lost Garfield Comics"
  11. ^ Davis, Jim. 20 Years & Still Kicking!: Garfield's Twentieth Anniversary Collection. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998, p. 14.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Walter (December 12, 1982). "LIVES: The Cat That Rots the Intellect". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "Garfield Named World's Most Syndicated Comic Strip". Business Wire. January 22, 2002. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  14. ^ "TRC About Us: Professor Garfield". Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  15. ^ "Interview with Jim Davis". calendars.com. November 9, 2012. Archived from the original on February 25, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.

SourcesEdit

  • Bruce McCabe, "The Man Who Put Garfield on Top", The Boston Globe, March 8, 1987.

External linksEdit