Jim Davis, Cartoonist,
Founder of Paws, Inc.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.