Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garfield & Co. Volumes 1 & 2 - A No Flying No Tights Review

SOURCE: Garfield & Co. Series, vol. 1-2

Garfield has always held a special place in my heart. I was born the day after the famous feline first premiered on the funny pages and the Garfield and Friends cartoon was the high point of my Saturday mornings. The only thing that got me through dental appointments as a child was the collection of Garfield dolls my dentist decorated his office with and the reasoning that nobody who liked Garfield that much could possibly be that bad. And yet, despite a fondness for all things Garfield-related, I could not bring myself to embrace his most recent animated incarnation – The Garfield Show.

Why? Because in this carton Garfield actually talks! His lips move and he vocalizes all of his sarcastic musings! In fact all the animals, except for Garfield’s doggie pal Odie, are capable of human speech and can be clearly understood by the humans around them! It’s a sacrilege! It’s an outrage! It just… looks weird.

I freely admit this is a silly point for a grown man to get hung up on – even one who reads as many comics as I do. But that point of discomfort is likely to color the opinions of any fan of the Garfield comics and cartoons who reads the Garfield & Co line of graphic novels.

Similar in format to the Ani-Manga of various animated series which TokyoPop made several years ago, this series of books creates comics by taking still shots of The Garfield Show animated series and adding cartoon balloons with the dialogue transposed upon the artwork. Each volume of this series contains three stories, taken directly from the cartoon. The stories vary in subject matter, but will be familiar territory for most fans of Garfield. Most follow a broad plot centering upon Garfield as the trickster figure, using his considerable wits to try and steal food, take a nap or play a prank on someone who annoys him. This inevitably ends with Garfield getting into trouble and then trying to fix his mistakes, either to make amends for the trouble he’s caused or to save his own sneaky self.

The artwork, as taken from the show, is made up of three-dimensional computer graphics created by French animation company Studio Ellipsanime. The studio did a good job of capturing the essence of Jim Davis’ original designs though the characters (to my eyes at least) looked odd rendered in three-dimensions. This is a common complaint to most 3-D representations of a cartoon character, but I must say that Studio Ellipsanime did a better job than most and that the “wrongness” that I saw when I watched the cartoon seems less obvious in this “flat” format. Perhaps it was the way the characters moved that made me feel uncomfortable?

Your enjoyment of these graphic novels will depend entirely upon your enjoyment of The Garfield Show, for the one is equal to the other. Librarians and teachers might consider this for their collections if they have a large population of young Garfield fans among their elementary school age students or reluctant readers who enjoy cartoons.

Garfield & Co Graphic Novel Series 1 & 2
by Cedric Michiels (adaptor), based on characters created by Jim Davis
Art by Studio Ellipsanime
Volume 1 ISBN: 9781597072663
Volume 2 ISBN: 9781597072670
Papercutz, 2011

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