his parents, James and Betty Davis, and his younger brother, Dave (Doc). Like most farms, the barnyard had it's share of stray cats; about 25 at one time, by Jim's estimation.

Jim thinks he probably would have become a farmer, had it not been for his serious bouts with asthma as a child. Forced inside, away from regular farm chores, he whiled away the hours drawing pictures. His pictures were so bad he had to label them. With practice, he got better; but Jim concluded that pictures, when accompanied by words, were more fun anyway.

By junior high school, the asthma was in check, and Jim even went on to letter in high school football. Later, he attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he majored in art, business, and practical jokes.

After college, Jim spent two years working for a local advertising agency before becoming an assistant to TUMBLEWEEDS creator, Tom Ryan. Jim learned the skills and discipline necessary to become a syndicated cartoonist and began his own strip, GNORM GNAT. When he tried to sell the strip to a newspaper syndicate he was told, "It's funny, but bugs? Who can relate to a bug?" After five years of drawing Gnorm, Jim drew a giant foot that fell out of the sky, crushing Gnorm in his last comic appearance.

Jim studied the comics pages closely and noticed there were a lot of successful strips about dogs, but none about cats! He combined his wry wit with the art skills he had honed since childhood and GARFIELD, a fat, lazy, lasagna-loving, cynical cat was born. Jim says Garfield is a composite of all the cats he remembered from his childhood, rolled into one feisty orange fur ball. Garfield was named after Jim's grandfather, James Garfield Davis.

The strip debuted on June 19, 1978 in 41 U.S. newspapers. Several months after the launch, the Chicago Sun-Times cancelled GARFIELD. Over 1300 angry readers demanded that GARFIELD be reinstated. It was, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, GARFIELD is read in 2570 newspapers by 263,000,000 readers around the globe. Recently, Guinness World Records‘, named GARFIELD "The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World."

Jim Davis has had many successes with GARFIELD including four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program and induction into the Licensing Hall of Fame (1998), but his most prized awards are from his peers in the National Cartoonist Society: Best Humor Strip (1981 and 1985), the Elzie Segar Award (1990), and the coveted Reuben Award (1990) for overall excellence in cartooning.

Davis is founder and president of Paws, Inc., a full-service licensing studio created to support Garfield's global business ventures. He is married to Jill Davis and has three children, James, Ashley, and Christopher.

 


Then & Now: Above, the Davis family from 1965 and below
from 2002. Left to Right; Dave (Doc), James, Betty, and Jim.