Lyman was a friend of Jon's, who lived with him for a while and was the original owner of Odie. Lyman was one of the main characters in the comic strip along with Garfield, Jon, and Odie. The comic strip usually had four main characters, but that number was reduced to three when Lyman was cut out of the strip by Jim Davis.
He first appeared on August 7, 1978. He was only actively present for a few months after his debut appearance. Starting from 1981, he was usually absent; for instance, he did not appear in any strips between December 25, 1981, and June 27, 1982. He had largely disappeared from the comic by April 24, 1983, his last regular appearance, and his disappearance was not fully elaborated upon at the time. Lyman has made two cameo appearances in the comic since then. First, in the strip on Garfield's 10th birthday, June 19, 1988, where he appears in the title panel seated between Jon's father and Liz; he also appears in a flashback panel within the strip. The next was on April 2, 2013, in a picture on the newspaper Jon was reading.
According to Davis, Lyman's original purpose was to be someone who Jon could actually talk to and express other ideas — a role gradually taken over by Garfield, himself. Once Lyman was no longer needed for that purpose, he was removed without explanation. Jim Davis has jokingly explained Lyman's sudden disappearance and long absence from the strip on different occasions either by saying that Lyman joined the Peace Corps and was then never heard from again or by saying, "Don't look in Jon's basement."
In the web game "Scary Scavenger Hunt," he is shown chained onto the wall in the basement of a haunted mansion. In "Scary Scavenger Hunt 2," his head is found inside the kitchen oven. Also, on the official Garfield website, he was shown working behind the counter in a former edition of the "Book Nook" section.
In Long Lost Lyman, it´s revealed that he has become a wild life photographer. He had searched for a mythological creature and disappeared. When Jon, Garfield and Odie were looking for him, they had found him dressed as that creature.
- Long Lost Lyman Part 1 (flashback)
- Long Lost Lyman Part 2 (imagination sequence)
- Long Lost Lyman Part 3
- Long Lost Lyman Part 4
Lyman's mysterious disappearance from the strip is discussed at Neatorama.com.