Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Jim Davis Early Newspaper Comics Discovered

A Youtube maven and Garfield fanatic who goes by the moniker Quinton Reviews has uncovered some very early work by Jim Davis. He found the strip Gnorm Gnat, which many thought to be a mere myth cooked up by Davis as interview-fodder. But that's just the warm-up for his major discovery, the original weekly run of Garfield, then known as Jon, in which the famed lasagna-loving feline was born in a small local weekly newspaper two years before the strip hit the big time in syndication. Davis, for reasons unknown, has kept the existence of this feature to himself for the past forty years!

Quinton Reviews explains all this in a very entertaining video, so click below and enjoy:

For some reason links to that video don't work (all part of Jim Davis' plan to keep us in the dark?!?!?), so click on the Quinton Reviews link above and select the video titled "Finding Lost Garfield Comics". Sorry for the glitch.

Once you've watched the video, if you'd like to see lots of the Gnorm Gnat and Jon strips, here's a 47-page PDF (takes a few moments to load) with lots of samples.

My two comments: first, congratulations Quinton on a fine piece of comic strip archeology! Second, don't leave us hanging ---- get the start date of Gnorm Gnat please!!

The video was missing, so I browsed the PDF.

Gnorm Gnat looks like the work of a big Tumbleweeds fan, while Jon/Garfield is so different as to feel like a different (and less polished) artist. I'm guessing that Jon represented a very self-conscious effort by Davis to find a new style. Note that over time Garfield became even more precise and polished than Gnorm Gnat -- Davis's original style reasserting itself? The writing evolved away from Tumbleweeds, but still favors dry, sarcastic humor.

The PDF has an article on Garfield becoming syndicated stating a gnorm gnat start of mid 1973. No exact date.
End date seems to be 25th of Dec 1975 as Jon starts the following week.
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