Garfield and the response to new media

I don’t want to get into a whole song-and-dance about copyright and the merits of the “fair use” principle (for that, you can see this post and related posts), but I thought it was interesting to read about the response by cartoonist Jim Davis — creator of the Garfield comic strip and the associated merchandising empire — to a site called Garfield Minus Garfield, where panels from the original strip are posted with the central character removed. According to the New York Times story about the site, Davis thinks it is fascinating:

“Davis, the cartoonist who created “Garfield,” calls himself an occasional reader of the site, which he calls “fascinating.” He says he is flattered rather than peeved by the imitation. “Some of them really work, and some of them work better,” Mr. Davis said.

In fact, the Times goes on to say that the cartoonist, who has been drawing Garfield for about 30 years, found that the site (which was created by Dan Walsh of Dublin) prompted him to take a different look at his body of work. In a Washington Post piece from a couple of months ago, Davis thanked Walsh for doing what he did. Obviously, he has become a gazillionaire from Garfield and can afford to be magnanimous, but it’s still a refreshing response in an age where artists like Prince are sending out C&D letters by the boat-load trying to lock down their content and prevent anyone from altering or using it.

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