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garfield with pipe

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The Pipe Strip

So Garfield comics are pretty stupid.

In my first year of undergrad, I heard that Jim Davis created Garfield after doing some market research and realizing people like stupid animals and boring shit in their newspapers. So for a brief period I had a reaction of, fuck these stupid capitalist comic strip for idiots. But now I sort of love how terrible Garfield comics are. For one thing, I hate mondays and I love lasagna, so Garfield and I are kindred spirits.

Over the last 10 years i’ve seen a lot of amazing internet art about Garfield that i find deeply satisfying to the inner child that grew up with Garfield & Friends cartoon and the Fatcat anthology books. Primary example of internet appropriation is Fatal Farm ’s Lasagna Cat video series from 2008. Billed as tributes to Jim Davis, Lasagna Cat serves to highlight the awkward non-joke qualities of Garfield comics.

The format of the video is simple. Actors in cheap mascot costumes and a John Arbuckle wig re-enact a garfield comic strip. After they reach what is apparently the punch line a rimshot and laugh track are played, then the original comic strip is shown to prove that Fatal Farm really didn’t make up the terrible joke themselves. The comic fades out and a music video begins. The song will be chosen due to some lyrical connection to the strip, the video remixes elements from the re-enactment, new elements and text. The video showed a pretty sophisticated use of green screen and creative after-effects editing for an early youtube audience. (See examples in playlist below.)

Surprisingly, after a nine years of lying dormant the Lasagna Cat youtube channel started posting new videos. First, a few teasers for new videos and a call for a sex survey . Then, a few days ago they poster 12 new Lasagna Cat videos. Most of the videos follow the standard format of their previous videos, but now the music videos are exceptionally high quality, employing extra actors, shot on locations and just looking real damn polished.

The exceptions to the lasagna cat format are the sex survey results video and 07/27/1978 . There is a whole other blog post the write about sex survey results , an ambitious and bizarre looping knock knock joke that decays in real time over 4 and a half hours.

The 07/27/1978 video follows the lasagna cat format, (re-enactment, comic strip still, music video remix) but the music video portion is stretched wildly beyond expectations. Instead of a pop song, Philip Glass’ epic score of “Kundun” is used. The entire 60 minute score acts as a dramatic backdrop for a spoken word piece performed by John Blyth Barrymore. Barrymore performs as a man philosophically transformed by a three panel Garfield comic strip. In one continuous take Barrymore explains his ongoing struggles to analyze and understand the perfection of the pipe strip.

I think this is relevant to master’s students in the arts who aren’t afraid to embrace the absurd. When writing about your own work you might think, shit there is nothing i have to say about this , but maybe you are being filtered by your own expectations of what is serious and good art? This movie is a pataphysical parody between Spalding Gray ’s Gray’s Anatomy and Room 237 ‘s crackpotier monologists. This hour long performance runs a 3 panel comic strip through a creative gauntlet of bizarre thoughts that I honestly find inspiring.

Read Interpret Copy Paste Adapt Remix The Pipe Strip So Garfield comics are pretty stupid. In my first year of undergrad, I heard that Jim Davis created Garfield after doing some market ]]>