So much depends upon an overweight, orange tabby, devouring lasagna atop a kitchen counter. If a Gizmodo piece by Ashley Feinberg is to be believed, a private Facebook group devoted to Jim Davis’ long-running comic strip Garfield might just be the last refuge of sincerity and sweetness on the entire internet. For the last two years, literally thousands of fans have flocked to a group called Simply Garfield to ask questions, share opinions, and just generally express their fondness for the rotund, wisecracking tomcat, a character whose adventures have already spawned two live-action feature films, numerous animated series and specials, and countless toys, sweatshirts, calendars, and other assorted merchandise. Considering how jaded and sarcastic internet commentary tends to be, Feinberg is amazed at what a safe haven this forum is. “The comments, the pictures, the exchanges,” she writes. “It is absolutely astonishing.”
Garfield has long been a subject of online ridicule, and the denizens of the Simply Garfield group seem to know that their particular predilection is not fully embraced by society at large. The Facebook forum, then, serves as a kind of makeshift support group. “I can’t even begin to explain to [friends and relatives] why I’m such a big fan,” reports a 51-year-old Garfield booster named John. “There are so many reasons to like him!” Feinberg frets a bit, though, about the sanctity of Simply Garfield. A photo of the cartoon cat leaning against the Eiffel Tower went viral recently and attracted some trolls to the Facebook group, including one named Alex who claims to have written “a 682-page investigation on how Nermal is the manifestation of the Antichrist.” And yet, even here, a Simply Garfield regular named Jeremy calmly and patiently interacts with Alex. As delicate as it is, Feinberg says, this forum can provide a positive example for the entire rest of the internet.
Something as rare and beautiful as Simply Garfield deserves to be seen, lest we forget that—despite the odds—at least one collective of people managed to unite, free of invective, and rejoice in their shared love. A love of Garfield and Garfield alone.