Right off the bat, let me just tell you - Garfield creator Jim Davis is not going to write an offensive comic strip intentionally. That's just not what Jim Davis is about. This is not meant as an insult (nor is it praise), that's just not what Jim Davis is trying to achieve with Garfield. Last week, we discussed one of Davis' more adventurous Garfield strips of all-time (there's another fascinating one, by the way, that I might feature here at some point in time). Even there, though, the intent was not to be offensive - it was just Davis spreading his storytelling wings a little bit more than normal. Davis is here to entertain, not to piss people off. Garfield is not Doonesbury - it is not trying to push the envelope. That is why the Veteran's Day controversy of 2010 (suggested to me last week by reader Charlie L. after he read last week's column) struck me as a bit on the silly side of things. The controversy requires readers to ignore the entire approach that Garfield has used for decades now to find offense.
The strip at hand debuted on Veteran's Day, 2010...
So yeah, obviously you can read that as a very sharp (and very harsh) critique of Veteran's Day as a holiday. But come on, it's Garfield!
The first hint that Davis did not intend to offend (well, besides the aforementioned fact that this is Garfield, for crying out loud!) was the strips on the three days of the week leading to that strip on Thursday, November 11th...
And the two strips that followed...
Obviously, he was just doing a week of Garfield versus spider gags (a recurring topic in the strip).
However, after people began freaking out, Davis quickly apologized even though he had not intended to offend, explaining that he had scheduled these strips many months ago and he used a very basic calendar that did not have holidays on it when he was scheduling where each strip would go and did not realize the awkward coincidence.
Dear Friends, Fans, and Veterans:
In what has to be the worst timing ever, the strip that runs in today's paper seems to be making a statement about Veteran's Day. It absolutely, positively has nothing to do with this important day of remembrance.
Regarding today's Garfield comic strip, it was written almost a year ago and I had no idea when writing it that it would appear today — of all days. I do not use a calendar that lists holidays and other notable days, so when this strip was put in the queue, I had no idea it would run on Veteran's Day. What are the odds? You can bet I'll have a calendar that lists EVERYTHING by my side in the future.
My brother Dave served in Vietnam. My son James is a Marine who has had two tours of duty, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. You'd have to go a long way to find someone who was more proud and grateful for what our Veterans have done for all of us.
Please accept my sincere apologies for any offense today's Garfield may have created. It was unintentional and regrettable.
So there you go.
Thanks to Charlie for the suggestion!