2009-08-24

Garfield recolored

I contributed today's Square Root of Minus Garfield strip:

I drained the colors from the 1995-02-27 Garfield strip and put new ones in. Does it bother you that Garfield is now a gray/white cat instead of an orange one? Should it bother you? Complex issues arise.

First, the strip already has the "token gray" character Nermal, but his appearances are few and far between, especially considering how many gray cats there are in real life. Surely having Garfield be gray in a single strip is just a (small) step towards breed parity in Square Root of Minus Garfield?

Unfortunately, not unambiguously so. Because Garfield already has an established color scheme, any change it is apt to be taken as implying that the change is for the better. Is gray better than orange for cat fur? In my (unscientific) experience it is certainly more common. Is the recolored strip perhaps an attempt to reinforce/perpetuate the notion that a "default" cat is (or ought to be) be gray and that it is meaningful to think of "orange" as a primary attribute of one cat though we would not consider the greyness of another one similarly distinctive?

On the other hand, we must not forget that Garfield is a stereotypically mean, egotistical (and, yes, squirrel-maiming) jerkass. That does not ordinarily reflect badly on all orange cats, because, well, duh, it's Garfield! But once we change his color, it is no more "just Garfield", and the characterization begins to interact with the coloring. In this context the strip seems to say that gray cats are egotistical squirrel-maimers. Strictly speaking it only asserts that some gray cats sometimes maim squirrels. But that was never in doubt to begin with, so it is inevitable that it will be perceived as a statement about gray cats in general.

Of course, one may also take the position that any attempt to use the coloring to make a point, no matter whether in favor of gray or orange, is an unwelcome abuse of the original strip's artistic vision. The counterpoint to that is if you don't even know what the point is, how can you be sure it's being made in the first place? Perhaps it's all just in your head.

On the other-other-other hand, now that the possibility of a gray Garfield has been aired, the cat is out of the bag, so to say. Even if henceforth Garfield is always orange, that too will be taken as a statement of sorts.

So, should you be offended? You decide. But eventually we'll all just have to come to terms with the fact that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

2 comments:

  1. I'm afraid all I see is Garfield in what is clearly wrong coloring.

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  2. like it or not, you have changed a comic about Garfield the evil orange cat, into a comic about an evil grey cat (who is most definitely NOT Garfield, because everyone knows that Garfield is orange!)

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