måndag 17 augusti 2015

Strange comics: Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield, for those two of you who don't know, is a comic strip about an evil cat, a stupid dog and their pathetic owner-man. It's remarkable primarily for its blandness; a calculated, meticulously designed lowest common denominator-appeal developed by a marketer and refined over the decades to a blatantly, proudly soulless level of franchise-building purity rivaled only by the upstart Hello Kitty derivative. A true American success story.

But business aside, by nature of its design the comic offers a valuable service to the community: A template for comedy. It's not funny, oh no, it leaves all the work up to the audience. But it enables a great variety of work to be made. It's been doctored, randomized, acted out, conspirafied and homaged, parodied, remixed and taken the piss out of to hell and back, and the results are often hysterically funny on several levels.

But my favorite in the genre is Garfield Minus Garfield.
Strip for 20150122
It's fascinating how well the strip holds up with the main character removed. But we soon forget he was ever supposed to be there, and the strip becomes, as the site describes it, an existential "journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb".

Sometimes it's absurd. (See above.) Frequently it's pointless, art school project strips with no beginning, middle or end; a single image or line divorced from context and floating in an abstract pastel-colored space.
Strip for 20150311
But those individual strips become something greater when standing next to their brothers. They begin to tell a story.
Strip for 20140731
It's a story I think most of us can recognize ourselves in. Our real selves, behind the scaffolding of ego the real strip tries to reinforce.
Strip for 20150514
It's heartbreakingly bleak.
Strip for 20150512
And I just can't stop staring.
Strip for 20140930
Honestly, I wish I could take every single strip on the site and cram them into my eyes. There's very little else I can say.
Strip for Valentine's day, year one (?)
Just read it tenderly, and with care. Let it linger as long as you dare. Small doses is probably best.

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