Creating the Garfield Comic Strip

The GARFIELD comic strip debuted on June 19, 1978 in 41 U.S. newspapers. Today, GARFIELD is read in over 2100 newspapers by 200 million people. GARFIELD is the most widely syndicated and read comic strip in the world!

In 2011, GARFIELD went digital. Production of the comic strip moved to computers, where each daily installment is drawn, inked, lettered and colored using special software. The last hand-drawn comic strip was published on November 27th, 2011.

Let's take a look at how this popular comic strip was created before it went digital:

The Rough Sketch
Every Garfield comic strip begins with a rough sketch. This quick pencil drawing shows the characters' expressions, what they are doing, and where they should be placed within the comic strip panel. The rough sketch also includes any editorial copy.

The Blue-Line Drawing
Using the rough sketch as a guide, the strip is then drawn in blue pencil. Blue pencil is used because the blue line will not show up on film when the final, inked version of the strip is photographed for printing in the newspaper. At this stage, the characters are drawn completely, and scenery or background details are added.

Inking The Strip
In the final step, a brush and black ink is used to trace a black line over the blue pencil line. The copy in the thought and speech balloons is inked in with a technical pen instead of a brush.

Coloring The Strip
Before computers, coloring the comic strip was an involved process. After the strip was inked, a photocopy was made of the final art, which was used to create a color guide. An artist colored the photocopy with markers and the colors were assigned numbers from a special color chart. The hand-colored guide was then sent to a company that added color to the strips mechanically and produced the four-color art that appeared in newspapers.

Jim Davis Signature
After the strip has been completed, Jim Davis reviews, signs and dates the strip. It's now ready to appear in the newspaper...but, not until weeks - or even months - later!