By Katie Liggera
There’s no greater sleep-positivity influencer than that round orange cat. Jim Davis has drawn Garfield sleeping an innumerable amount of times and here, Garfield actively champions the act of sleeping itself. Much like a cheerleader, Garfield starts his chant by proclaiming praise for sleep: of course he does, as what else would he chant about ecstatically besides sleeping or possibly lasagna?
We should be happy for Garfield. He’s content here, with no bumbling Jon Arbuckle or annoying Odie bothering him. He wears his recognizable “outfit”: a blue blanket conformed to his shape, an iconic look. And thus dressed, Garfield throws himself into his favorite activity, bliss evident on his smiling face. Yet, should we be bothered by how much – and how easily – the Sandman overtakes Garfield’s consciousness?
Firstly, we need to consider the primary factor here: Garfield is a cat. On average, cats sleep about fifteen hours a day. Older cats may sleep up to twenty hours in a twenty-four hour time period. Jim Davis’s “Garfield” comic was published on June 19, 1978. Since Garfield unrealistically ages with the comic strip, he would be nine years old on the September 8, 1987 publication date here. We can imagine that, seeing as how Garfield isn’t bound to regular cat ageing conventions, he wouldn’t really be too old in this comic. If Garfield sleeps the average cat time length, sleep comprises 62 percent of his days. Realistically, it makes sense that the comics show Garfield sleeping – a lot. He’s a cat. Cats love to sleep.
On the other hand, we might consider how easily Garfield finds the act of sleeping. Garfield drifts off within two panels. His hand doesn’t even unclench before his eyes close and he’s off dreaming about ceiling-high lasagna pans. We’ve established Garfield’s enthusiasm for sleeping in this instance. Observing Garfield’s elation over the prospect of sleep followed by an immediate slumber, one can assume Garfield may suffer from narcolepsy. Narcolepsy or EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness) is a sleep disorder where one becomes overwhelmed with sudden sleep attacks, specifically in the daytime. Readers can assume the time of day when looking at the shadows under Garfield’s hands and bed, caused by a light source. So, can we attribute Garfield’s intense burst of drowsiness during daylight hours to narcolepsy?
While Garfield’s vigorous snoring, illuminated by the bold typeface used when lettering the “Z” above his head in panel three, may be symptomatic of mild sleep apnoea, Garfield merely exhibits cat-like characteristics. Additionally, green colored wallpaper paints the background behind Garfield in the comic strip. Certain colors, such as green, are known to calm the mind into a restful state. Garfield certainly finds restfulness in his green room. Ideal sleeping conditions all present themselves here.
Now, Garfield actively breaks the fourth wall here. Cheers function as a call and response. Either one cheerleader invokes the initial chant and their fellow cheerleaders respond in unison, or an entire group expects audience participation. Garfield is so excited about sleeping, he looks directly at us, the reader, when he lets out the call for our response. Unfortunately, we, the expected participant, are unable to engage with Garfield. Garfield falls asleep instantaneously. He responds to his own cheer, giving a “Z” to both himself and the reader. Once thrilled, his clenched fist pumped up in the air hits the ground, signalling an end to the chant, the comic, and our involvement in Garfield’s life during this moment.
A cheerleader for sleeping and attuned with his bodies’ own needs, it’s safe to say Garfield loves to sleep simply because he’s a cat.
Katie Liggera is a writer and reviewer for websites including Comic Book Yeti, The Daily Fandom, and Gatecrashers. For more, you can find Katie on Twitter here!
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