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Jim Davis, Cartoonist,
Founder of Paws, Inc.


Jim Davis was born July 28, 1945 in Marion, Indiana, and was raised on a small Black Angus cow farm with his parents, Jim and Betty Davis, and his younger brother, Dave (Doc). Like most farms, the barnyard had its 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 comic’s 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 over 2400 newspapers by 200 million readers. Guinness World Records™ , named GARFIELD “The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World.” Furthering the fat cat’s fame, Twentieth Century Fox turned out two full-length feature films: Garfield: The Movie (2004), and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (2006). Both films have been huge box office hits.

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 .

Most recently, Jim founded The Professor Garfield Foundation, to support children’s literacy. A free educational web site www.professorgarfield.org, offers content that is engaging and pedagogically sound, and is the cornerstone of the Foundation’s work.

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