Living: Those Catty Cartoonists

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Garfield products, books and the strip have grossed over $15 million already this year (the royalty percentage is split fifty-fifty with United Feature). To coordinate Garfield spinoffs, Davis founded Paws, Inc. Garfield's poultry-stuffed grin now adorns pottery, linen, stationery, luggage, maternity clothing, jewelry, beer steins, toothbrush holders, pillows, chimney stockings, diaries, catnip bags, wastebaskets and slumberbags. Garfield's visage is even silk-screened on women's panties. Many of the items carry historic Garfield utterings like, "I never met a lasagna I didn't like"; or "Cats don't ask. Cats take"; or "You know it's Monday when you find sharks circling in your water bowl."

Garfield and his tart tongue soon will enter American living rooms. An animated Garfield television special will air on CBS in 1982. The script calls for action, adventure and a G-rated love scene: Garfield romances a lasagna. "I'd tell you how the affair ends," Davis says, "but it's not a pretty sight."

A frugal millionaire, Davis recently traded in his 1962 Chevrolet and bought a 1979 Lincoln Continental with 30,000 miles on it. "I still couldn't bring myself to get a new one," he says. Some day he may even break down and own a dog—Davis' wife is allergic to cats.

Davis' spiritual ancestor in the cat cartoon game is Bernard Kliban, 46. He started all the madness. Back in 1975, Kliban, a very private Marin County, Calif., comic artist who once owned four felines and lost three of them in a divorce settlement, published Cat, an album of tiger-striped, round-eyed feline meatloaves. Originally a portfolio of cat drawings done to amuse himself, the resulting volume has gone through 26 printings and sold almost 1 million copies in the U.S. alone. From Canada to Japan, Kliban products are now a multimillion-dollar business. Says Kliban: "I'm not silly about cats, but there is something funny and vulnerable and innocent about them."

Since Kliban, it has been shown that cats are just as hilarious—and profitable—when they are dead. English-educated Simon Bond, 34, a bachelor who lives in Phoenix and London, was encouraged to publish 101 Uses for a Dead Cat by his friend Terry Jones, a Monty Python regular. Deceased felines in Bond's black humor pose as toast racks, pencil sharpeners and potholders. Although the book has sold 765,000 copies in the U.S., the mood is too indigo for some ailurophiles. Says A.S.P.C.A.'S John Kullberg: "Coming upon the book is akin to being a member of the Moral Majority and seeing 101 Uses for a Dead Fetus. Bond, who has been a loving cat owner, although he is allergic to the animal, retorts, "Good comedy will always upset somebody. If I'd written 101 Uses for a Dead Aardvark, I bet no one would have complained."

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