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Visiting the Home of That Famous Cat

Joel Bustamante ' 11 - After two hours of exhausting road travel, my associate Alex Avtgis and I arrived in the middle of nowhere, lost in  back-roads near Muncie, Indiana. It was in the dense cornfields and forest that we encountered the home of America’s beloved cartoon cat, Garfield (and his creator, Jim Davis too). 

Paws, Inc. is a multi-level office where Davis runs his incredible cartoon empire;merchandising, promotional images, film, licensing, and the daily strip included.

As I waited for my meeting with Ms. Kim Campbell, Public Relations Director of the company, I ventured around the front office and was completely amazed at the plethora of Garfield paraphernalia. The staff welcomed me, and was very helpful in locating interesting pictures and Garfield-related items. Every wall is lined with interesting facts and history about the company; from its inception to the recent launch of the educational website Professor Garfield. Even the coffee tables have Garfield and Odie’s images engraved into the base.
When I was able to speak with Ms. Campbell, we were taken to the atrium-the center of the building complete with giant trees, picnic tables, and a kitchen. According to Ms. Campbell, the building also houses a fitness center, for those employees looking to get a quick workout during lunch.

After my extensive interview, Ms. Campbell treated us with a tour of the facility. First, we were taken to “The Showroom,” the top of the building outfitted with every bit of Garfield merchandise imaginable. Big cats, little cats, Oreo boxes, movie posters-everything a diehard fan could ever dream for lay in this magical room. The end of the giant room held awards, notably his four Emmy’s and National Cartoonist Society honors. Other images included various other prominent cartoonists honoring Garfield, such as Mort Walker’s “Beetle Bailey” and Mike Peters’ “Mother Goose and Grimm.”

With that room finished, we proceeded to the artist studio, where Mr. Davis’ art department creates various images for the public. Mr. Davis himself keeps a separate office away from the busy room in order to maintain focus on the strip and other projects. 

In this room, several drawing boards lay prominently; each artist has a distinct area in which they work. After this room, the tour was over, and I was given a copy of “Garfield at 25: In Dog Years I’d Be Dead,” which chronicles the life story of Mr. Davis and Garfield. Ms. Campbell was also kind enough to give me a small movie poster from the recent live-action film.

With so much happening at this place, it’s hard to imagine that it all started with a simple cat drawing and ballooned into such an incredible empire. The best part is the upcoming interview I have with one of the employed artists, in which I’ll get a more in-depth look into how the images are created. Easily an amazing day, and a great benefit to my project.