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Awhile back, some people on a forum (now 404) figured out that if you remove Garfield's thought balloons, the Garfield comic strip changes entirely.

The official Garfield strip is about an anthromorphic perpetually-hungry lazy cat, and his owner Jon's constant survival of him. The problem with it is that Garfield and Jon will sometimes “converse”. Garfield is only using thought bubbles, of course, so any “speech” that he may make is telepathic — but Jon still responds to it, and this makes the strip less like reality and more like a comic strip.

The OP on the forum had the idea to remove Garfield's “dialogue”, and observed that the strip becomes about Jon, a pathetic man who talks to his cats. I'll take this statement one step further and claim that Jon is insane.

You see, in the real world, cats can't talk. If they are telepathic, we humans certainly don't know what they're thinking to us. Jon seems to be the only one (nobody else would have any idea), but this doesn't explain much of Jon's behavior. So I think that he's simply insane, and any thoughts he hears from Garfield in the official strip are simply a product of that insanity. Indeed, when you look at it from the Jon-is-crazy standpoint, some things that you see in the strip (e.g. Garfield wearing an oven mitt) definitely seem to be hallucinations.

You would be reasonable to ask at this point why I can leave Jon's visual hallucinations in but remove Garfield's thought balloons. I could make up something about these taking different neural pathways, or cite some artistic license. But I'll cite two much simpler reasons instead:

  1. It's easier to simply cut out thought balloons than to remove costumes, objects being carried, etc..
  2. It wouldn't be as funny if I did.

I won't do most strips in which all the characters involved are animals (Garfield, neighbor-dog, Arlene, Nermal, birds, mice, spiders). Since in most cases it would just be the characters standing around and moving around, it wouldn't be funny, and so I won't waste the effort. I may still do it if there's some action that makes it worth doing, though.

And so, here is Garfield with Garfield's dialogue cut out. I've done some strips before I decided to start this dedicated site for them; these have had their post timestamps back-dated to the original date of the strip, so you'll need look back in the archives for those.

One more thing: If you're wondering what Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke is, it's a similar site wherein… Joe Mathlete explains today's Marmaduke. It's very funny. You should check it out.

And a note about copyright: What I'm doing here is a work of parody. Therefore, while I am not a lawyer, I believe that it is protected fair use under US copyright law. I do copy all official strips here rather than linking to them; I do this because while garfield.com does have a complete archive of every Garfield strip ever, you can never trust anything on the internet to stay where it is forever. This is easier than trying to repair a sudden rash of 404s. And look at it this way: I'm saving the syndicate some money on bandwidth bills. ☺