One of my all-time favourite comics is Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a comic strip about a six-year old boy and his friendship with his stuffed toy tiger. The strip is a celebration of the vivid imagination and playfulness of the child, to whom the tiger appears alive and talkative. While to everybody else, it’s just an inanimate stuffed toy tiger.
Now, consider Garfield. Probably the best-selling comic strip in the world. The basic premise is that you have a fat, ego-centric cat who enjoys annoying his lonely owner. The sarcastic drive of the cat dominates every other character in the strip. But what if Garfield was just a figment of poor Jon’s imagination?
Well, now, with Garfield minus Garfield, we can see what Jon’s life would be without Garfield. As the introduction reads:
Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Letâ??s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.
You need to read a few pages to get the full desperation and crazed loneliness that the comic conveys. But then it’s downright startling.