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Jim Davis

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James Robert "Jim" Davis (born July 28, 1945) is the creator of of the comic strip Garfield.

As a cartoonist, he has also worked on Tumbleweeds (as an assistant to Tom Ryan), Gnorm Gnat, U.S. Acres (Orson's Farm outside the United States), and a strip about Mr. Potato Head. He is the writer of all the CBS television specials and the direct-to-video movies, as well as a producer/executive producer for Garfield and Friends, the DTV movies, and The Garfield Show. He will be an executive producer for an upcoming film.

Biography

Jim Davis was born in Marion, Indiana on July 28th, 1945, and grew up on a small farm in Fairmount, Indiana with his father James William Davis, mother Anna Catherine (Carter) Davis, brother Dave, and twenty-five cats. Growing up, Davis recalled that after finishing his chores he would spend much of free time drawing; however he admitted his childhood drawings were of such poor quality that if he drew a cow he would have to label his drawing "cow", or else he would later fail to recognize his own work. Davis' childhood on a farm parallels the life of his cartoon character Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, who was also raised on a farm with his parents and a brother, Doc Boy. Jon, too, is a cartoonist, and also celebrates his birth-day on July 28th. Davis attended Ball State University. While attending Ball State, he became a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.

Ironically, considering his fame as a cartoonist who draws a cat, his first wife Carolyn (Altekruse) was allergic to cats although they owned a dog named Molly. They have a son, James Alexander Davis. On July 16, 2000, Davis married his current wife Jill. They have three children: James, Ashley, and Christopher.

Davis as of 2007 resides in Albany, Indiana, where he and his staff produce Garfield under his company, Paws, Inc., begun in 1981. Paws, Inc. employs nearly fifty 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 Fairfax, Indiana FFA chapter.

Career

Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for a local advertising agency and in 1969 began assisting Tom Ryan's comic strip, Tumbleweeds. He then created a comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, that ran for five years in The Pendleton Times, an Indiana newspaper. Davis tried to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, but an editor told him, "Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs — nobody can relate to bugs!" In the final strip, Davis killed off all the characters by having them get stepped on by a giant foot.

On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in forty-one news-papers. Things were going well until the Chicago Sun-Times canceled the strip, prompting an outcry from 1,300 readers. Garfield was reinstated and the strip quickly became the fastest selling comic strip in the world. Today it is syndicated in 2400 news-papers and is read by approximately 200,000,000 readers each day.

In the 1988-1994 cartoon series Garfield and Friends, one episode ("Mystic Manor") has a scene where Garfield slid down a fireman's pole in a haunted house, and Davis has a brief cameo as himself drawing a cartoon.

In the intro to one of the Garfield treasuries, there was a mock headline saying "Jim Davis Exposed as Fraud" showing Garfield at the drawing table creating a cartoonized Jim Davis, in which the fake headline reads that Davis is under investigation for plagiarism, as "Garfield himself draws his own strip!" The page shows Garfield drawing Jim Davis who looks like a bald Jon Arbuckle with a pony-tail. It is implied that Arbuckle is a drawing of a young Davis himself.

In the 1980s, Davis also made the barn-yard slap-stick comic strip U.S. Acres, featuring Orson the Pig. Outside the U.S., the strip was known as Orson's Farm. Davis also made a 2000-2003 strip based on the toy Mr. Potato Head with Brett Koth. The idea was to do a strip from Davis' native farmland roots.

In 1999, Davis authorized Garfield and Odie to be used by Boys Life magazine and the Cub Scouts in order to promote recruiting, where Odie and Garfield are seen wearing Cub Scout uniforms near a campfire or doing other outdoor related activities.

In 2005, Davis appeared in the music video Lazy Muncie, a parody of the Saturday Night Live video "Lazy Sunday".

Most recently, Jim Davis founded The Professor Garfield Foundation, to support children’s literacy.

Writer

Awards

Year Award Presenting Organization
1982 Best Humor Strip Cartoonist National Cartoonist Society
1983-84 Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield on the Town TV special, CBS Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
1984-85 Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield in the Rough TV special, CBS Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
1985 Elzie Segar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cartooning National Cartoonist Society
1985-86 Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Halloween Adventure TV special, CBS Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
1986 Best Humor Strip Cartoonist 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 Award State of Indiana
1995 Project Award National Arbor Day Foundation
1997 LVA Leadership Award (Presented to Paws, Inc.) Literacy Volunteers of America

Live Appearances

Davis appeared as himself (along with an animated Garfield) in an American Express commercial that was part of the "Do you know me?" campaign. [1]

Davis was featured throughout Happy Birthday, Garfield.

Voice Roles

Garfield and Friends

Misc.

Trivia

  • Davis has revealed that his father's favorite comic strip is Beetle Bailey.

Quotes

  • “I needed a name and thought of my grandfather James A. Garfield Davis, a big, cantankerous, cynical man. The name seemed to fit the personality and shape of the character.”
  • “The name Odie is really an inside joke. I wrote a commercial for a local car dealership featuring Odie, the village idiot. I liked the name, so I used it again.”
  • “The name Jon Arbuckle came from an old coffee commercial I remember hearing. I’d also used the name as an ‘expert source’ to add ‘credibility’ to my speeches. When I created the comic strip, the name just seemed to fit the kind of poor sap who would get stuck with a cranky cat like Garfield.”
  • “Doc Boy was named after my own brother, Dave ‘Doc’ Davis. Doc isn't nearly as goofy as his cartoon namesake; he's goofier.”
  • “I actually did have a waitress show me that she hadn’t shaved her legs. You can’t make up this stuff!”
  • "I'm still a farm boy at heart. If I hadn't suffered from asthma as a child, I would be a farmer today."
  • "I didn't have a whole lot of success getting dates, I was always a bit of a geek."
  • "My dream in life is to write the one gag that makes everyone in the world laugh."

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