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30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend!    by Jim Davis order for
30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna
by Jim Davis
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Both my sons (now in their teens) are longtime Garfield fans - their interest reinforced by the antics of our own supersized feline. Having long cohabited with cats, I too appreciate Jim Davis's humor, so was delighted to dig into 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend!, part of a celebration of Garfield's 30th anniversary.

In the Foreword, Blondie cartoonist Dean Young calls each of Jim Davis's comic strips 'an exquisite menagerie of comedic timing, writing, and cartoon art.' The rest of this delightful volume features the comics themselves: The First Decade, The Second Decade, The Third Decade, and Jim Davis 30 Faves (with reasons why he liked them best).

Each section is enhanced by Davis's comments on his expectations at the time, and how Garfield evolved during each decade, 'from a grumpy lump of wisecracking clay' in 1978 to a 'pithier and more profound' Professor Garfield supporting the advancement of literacy - 'the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world' - in 2008. Interspersed amongst the comics are fascinating pages on Garfield's history - from readers' reactions to an early cancellation by the Chicago Sun-Times to Garfield's getting up on his hind legs and catching on to new technologies.

Aside from it's creator's genius, why does Garfield work so well? As the fat feline himself admits when accused by Jon of sleeping, eating and watching television too much, 'I'm only human' and we all relate to his human flaws. His creator says, 'This whole line of work is to make people happy and smile' - something he's done very successfully for three decades, and still counting. Garfield rules. May he and his countless fans enjoy many more years of laughs and lasagna.

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