Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
Back in 19th June 1978, Garfield, created by Jim Davis, was first published in the newspapers in which we were introduced to the two characters that will define the comic strip: the titular cat Garfield and his owner Jon Arbuckle. The former is a cat who is defined by his gluttony, sloth, having a mean streak and a tendency to make snappy comebacks, while the latter is defined as clueless, hapless, unlucky and eventually the victim to Garfield's sardonic thoughts and punishment. A few months later, we were introduced to Lyman, who would bring Odie with him to live with Jon and Garfield. However, Lyman gradually became absent, leaving Odie as a regular character in the comic who is defined by his lack of intelligence, playfulness and being a good friend. Occasional characters include: Pooky, Garfield's teddy bear; Arlene, Garfield's female friend; Nermal, a younger cat who Garfield is annoyed with; and finally Liz, Garfield's vet that Jon regularly goes to since he liked to flirt with her until they got together.
Garfield is also known for being heavy on merchandising, given that there are several Garfield products that would include comic strip collections, stuffed toys, clothings and licensed comic books.. The focus on merchandising naturally caused some to think that the creator made this comic as a form of merchandising, often in a tone of scorn. Jim Davis did confirm the suspicion, so it didn't help alleviate the opinion but is typically used as a reason to dismiss the comic further. From my understanding, certainly Jim Davis had merchandising in mind when he wanted to develop the comic, but he's also did his research and gotten feedback to help him. You see, on his first time creating a comic it was about a gnat, which publishers didn't see the appeal for. He took the feedback and ended the comic by effectively stomping away the main character, and on his next comic he decided on a cat because there are a lack of comics with the cat as the centrepoint. The comic would have also been titled after Jon, with Garfield as the side character that makes snappy comebacks. The publisher made Jim Davise realise that Garfield should have been headlining the comic by pointing out how the concept is worded in such a way where Garfield is the more interesting one, and the rest is history. It should also be pointed out that Jon still being a regular presence didn't come out of nowhere, given that tidbit.
As part of making this comic more marketable, Garfield lacks a lot of social commentary that comic strips tend to include, which Jim Davis reasoned that other comics does the task better than he could, as highlighting trends might outdate the comic. It's why you won't see Garfield talking about stuff like political scandals or tragedies happening around the world. That's not to say that there's a perfect track record on this, such as one point where Garfield mentioned a decoder ring, or one that had an unfortunate coincidence with Veteran's Day that made that particular comic insensitive. Because the comic basically plays on the character's personalities very often, combined with how a lot of strips take place at the table (a static setting), the comic might feel stagnant for some people.
So you have a comic that is a combination of being popular, having easily-recognisable characters and setting, very adaptable panels, general stagnation and enough people who expressed dissatisfaction with the comic, which means that this is an oft-parodied comic strip. These include Garfield minus Garfield, which subtracts every character except Jon (even Odie, so it's a very misleading title), one where Garfield is replaced with a realistic cat, one where every Garfield panel is combined to make a random sequence of three panels and (sigh...) Lasagna Cat. Most of the comics have a cynical tone in their parodying, although my personal favourite has to be Square Root of Minus Garfield, since it contains edits that are tasteful despite there being cynical edits here and there. The fact that Jim Davis actually loves the parodies and even contributed to some of them is a very good thing (helped by the fact that he's a nice person), as this has enriched the world with some good stuff. It's also why I still think Garfield is still good despite having a few things I dislike.
Besides the comic strip in which Garfield originated from, Garfield's also got two animated series: one is traditionally hand-animated and is used for the Specials and Garfield and Friends, while the other is CGI and is used for a few films and The Garfield Show. Both of them are very different but they still feature Garfield in zany adventures. There are also video games featuring Garfield, such as Garfield: Caught in the Act, a good game thanks to SEGA's involvement. However, he's known for the two recent games: Garfield GO (which plays similar to Pokemon GO) and Garfield Kart, a game that started on mobile and is clearly based on Mario Kart. That's not mentioning the two films that featured a CGI Garfield interacting with live actors, which because of how uncanny it looks, is constantly derided mainly for the mismatching of styles. It's also interesting that BOOM! Studios made licensed Garfield comics, including one where Garfield crossed over with Grumpy Cat.
So everybody, what do you think of Garfield? I am bracing for negativity about the orange tomcat, but I would love being surprised by a more positive outlook on the comic!
Thank you for reading.