Newly Discovered – Davis’ Pre-Garfield Garfield *updated

Last year Quinton Reviews gave us an introduction to pre-Garfield Jim Davis. Earlier this year he spent some vacation time delving deeper into Davis’s Comics From the Unknown.

So here is more about Gnorm Gnat, and Jon, and even some Jim Davis high school cartooning. Hey, there’s even some Garfield! Watch The Origin of Jim Davis.


Below the original July 28, 2019 report.

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.




5 thoughts on “Newly Discovered – Davis’ Pre-Garfield Garfield *updated

  1. 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. 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.

  3. “Massuh Jon”? Yikes! Good thing he dropped that when Lyman entered the syndicated strip.

  4. I was just conversing with a friend who was wondering if Davis did lettering for Ryan when he was working on Tumbleweeds. If the above is any indication, I’d say yes–very much of a Tumblyweeds vibe in Gnorm up there, not only in the Kabuki mask faces, but in the lettering as well.

  5. “And who discovered all this? Quinton Reviews!

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

    I had found some of the narrations in the video and some of the groups of text between the bottom of the video and the very top of its section for comments at the World Wide Web address to which the text of, “He has posted a YouTube video detailing all this undiscovered history.” in this article was linked to had been very rude and very negative (they could had been better off without being rude or negative).

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