Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And They All Look Just the Same

Some cartoonists evidently believe that quantity trumps quality: that is, if they appear to have drawn three whole panels in a particular strip, they should get credit for drawing three whole panels in a particular strip.

Some cartoonists evidently believe that quantity trumps quality: that is, if they appear to have drawn three whole panels in a particular strip, they should get credit for drawing three whole panels in a particular strip.

Some cartoonists evidently believe that quantity trumps quality: that is, if they appear to have drawn three whole panels in a particular strip, they should get credit for drawing three whole panels in a particular strip.

...Annoying, isn't it? Well, cut-and-pasters, that is how I bloody well feel when I read one of your lazy, stupid comics. I do realise how much work drawing a comic is--I do three or four a week myself*--but I don't feel that the horror of slaving over three panels of line art justifies Ctrl+C abuse. Just. Draw. It. Geeze.

Mind you, the copy-and-paste effect can sometimes be used well; for instance, see p. 66 of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: The Doll's House, in which the four identical panels speak to the clone-like natures of the two characters in them. I don't think Jim Davis is using the effect in quite the same way in the comic featured below.

Garfield has been around since 1978. It has been syndicated more widely than any other strip. It has won awards. It has been mocked roundly and at length on the Internet; perhaps my favourite bit of Garfield mockery is Garfield Minus Garfield, in which the strips are markedly improved when the title character is erased from the frames. The comic stopped being fresh and interesting many, many years ago. This week, it has more or less hit rock bottom, though I wouldn't be surprised if it somehow broke through that rock bottom and continued its magnificent freefall.

This week, you see, Jon and Garfield seem to be spending their three panels standing and/or lying in exactly the same postures in every frame as they discuss Jon's old flames (or as Jon discusses Jon's old flames and Garfield thinks sarcastic thoughts about them). Today's comic is the second in this excruciating series, and I shall not be hugely surprised if another appears tomorrow. Oh, Garfield, how far you have fallen. You used to be funny. You caused laughter and mild stomach pain. Now...only the anger and the bitter, bitter hatred remain.

My personal theory is that the strip below takes place in a medieval version of Hell. Jon and Garfield, condemned eternally for their various deadly sins (Jon: pride, lust, envy; Garfield: sloth, gluttony, avarice, wrath), are stuck in the Circle of Hell reserved for men who talk to their pets. They are forced to stand absolutely still in one another's company as they relive past humiliations and reflect on their earthly failures. Their expressions of ennui are tokens of their justified damnation; even now, as the flames of retribution lick invisibly at their ankles, they are completely unaware of how boring and petty they are. Even Chaucer's Pardoner would balk at telling stories about these two. They represent the banality of evil and are doomed to do so for all eternity.



*And don't get paid for it. Are you beginning to understand my resentment? Shall I elaborate? With sharp knives?

11 comments:

Skullturf Q. Beavispants said...

The "correct" way to modify Garfield is to remove the cat's thought bubbles, but keep the cat.

http://www.truthandbeautybombs.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=4997

Angry Kem said...

Yes, I like that method too (I would've linked to that thread, but I forgot where it was; I'll add it to the menu on the left), but I think I almost like Garfield Minus Garfield better, even though it came late to the game and has been endorsed by Davis (aaaaaaaarrrrrghnooooooooooooooo!). Yes, I know this is sacrilege. I still stand by it. Besides, the more Garfield mockery there is, the better the world will be.

Kip W said...

Am I missing the prominently displayed link to your comic?

Angry Kem said...

Kip W: I kind of hesitate to link to my comic, which is doubtless deserving of medievalisation itself (with the one difference that I don't get paid for its atrocities). I mean, yes, I'm a hypocrite, but a public display of hypocrisy (not to mention apparent arrogance via blatant self-promotion) is a scary thing to undertake. Besides, I do the comic under my real name, and I live in terror of the day Bil and Jeff Keane turn up at my apartment with machetes.

If there's enough demand, however, I'll post the link and bear the consequences.

Gold-Digging Nanny said...

I, for one, would like to see it.

Michael said...

Just recently I was looking through an early book of Garfield cartoons and thinking "these are actually funny." For the past several years Davis has stopped trying to achieve that standard.

Magica said...

The irony here is that if you look closely at the linework, you'll see that these panels =aren't= cut and pasted--they're each hand drawn. I point this out not to dispute your accusation of inanity, but to broaden it: If Jim Davis is going to go through the trouble of drawing all three panels, is he really so bereft of creative energy that he thinks three identical panels is the funniest, most effective comic he can draw?

Angry Kem said...

Good lord, you're right, Magica. (I am terrible at those "six differences" contests in Slylock Fox, but I thought I'd checked the comic closely enough this time. However...I can now see the slightly different markings on the tip of Garfield's tail.)

Good grief, Jim Davis. Are you drowning in apathy? Do you just not care any more? More importantly: can you draw anything besides Garfield? The fact that you are capable of replicating the copy-and-paste effect without copy-and-pasting may be a sign that it's time for you to move on.

Okay...strike that "may be." Move on, sir.

SageCat said...

Huh. Actually, I expect the "cut-n-paste" was done on the so-called "pencil" version of the strip, before it was passed off to Davis's inkers.

Drew said...

Actually, if you look carefully, you'll see that the clever Mr. Davis did NOT draw 3 identical panels; in the 3rd panel, Jon's mouth is closed, since he's done talking to Garfield. What genius!

Izeas GT said...

Actually, if you cross your eyes until the images overlap, you'll see that EACH PANEL WAS DRAWN SEPARATELY, though the assistants tried their damndest to make them identical. Why Paws, Inc. apparently hasn't heard of copy and paste escapes me.

Also check out Square Root of Minus Garfield.