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Newly Discovered – Davis’ Pre-Garfield Garfield


It is pretty well-known, though seldom seen, that Gnorm Gnat was the strip Jim Davis created before Garfield.

Gnorm Gnat ran in the Pendleton (Ind.) Times from around Spring 1973 to Christmas Day 1975.


We know he was assisting Tom K. Ryan on Tumbleweeds until 1978, now we know he was prepping Garfield for syndication for two and a half years before the accepted June 19, 1978 premiere of The Cat.


Back to the weekly Pendleton Times, just a couple weeks after the last Gnorm Gnat.

The above “Jon” strip appeared January 8, 1976. and it would continue as a weekly until February 1978. Not long after The Pendleton Times said goodbye to the Garfield strip.

above: Pendleton Times says goodbye (temporarily) to Garfield on March 12, 1978.

Yes, by the time the strip quit The Times it had been retitled “Garfield,” that happened on September 1, 1977.  The paper would welcome back the syndicated Garfield, picking out selected comic strips for its still weekly issues.

And who discovered all this? Quinton Reviews!

He has posted a YouTube video detailing all this undiscovered history.

He has also been magnanimuos about sharing all the Pendleton Times strips he has up as a PDF. Gnorm Gnat, Jon, and pre-Garfield Garfield!


hat tip to Charles Brubaker for the heads up.




Community Comments

#1 Charles Brubaker
@ 11:05 pm

Seeing these proto-Garfield strips fascinate me. It was clear that, originally, Jim Davis planned on having Jon be the main star before it was decided that the cat should have more focus.

It’s interesting that Garfield was rather ugly in his original appearances before his design was tweaked over the years.

#2 Brad Walker
@ 11:40 am

That first Gnorm strip is a spin on a previous Tumbleweeds strip. Ace, the gambler, is dealing and gives a like number of variants that drives off the other players. “How to quit while you’re ahead,” he tells us.

Too bad we don’t see the final Gnorm strip, which owes a lot to Terry Gilliam.

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