Comic Book: Garfield: His 9 Lives

The cover for the original Graphic Novel

Cuz I'm a blues cat
And I'm broke from paying my dues
Cuz when you got nine lives
You got nine ways to lose
- theme song of the Animated Adaptation

Garfield: His 9 Lives is a Graphic Novel (Graphic Short Story Anthology if you want to get picky) based on the Newspaper Comic Garfield, written and illustrated by Jim Davis and Paws, Inc. The central concept of the book is that, since cats have nine lives, Garfield must have a bunch of past lives that made him the lazy, sarcastic cat that we know and love (or not) today, and each of those lives gets its own story.

Goes in some very different directions from most Garfield media. While some of the stories wouldn't be out of place appearing the regular newspaper strip, others go in more surreal or dramatic directions; there's even a genuine Horror story. Some of the stories also go a bit more adult than what we usually get from Garfield; nothing that would stop it from getting a PG rating, but there are some mild swear words present, a couple references to alcohol, a few deaths, and some obvious hints that at least one of Garfield's past lives actually had sex.

The stories present in the book are:
  • "In The Beginning ...": A prologue about how God and his design team created cats.
  • "Cave Cat": Garfield's first life as the world's first (and last) sabre toothed cave cat, living in the age of cavemen and dinosaurs.
  • "The Vikings": The story of how Garfield the Orange and his band of Horny Vikings are unfrozen from an iceberg and attack St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • "Babes And Bullets": Garfield stars as Private Detective Sam Spayed in a Film Noir parody where everyone is a talking cat.
  • "The Exterminators": A Three Stooges homage featuring Garfield and two other cats as professional mouse catchers. Hilarity Ensues.
  • "Lab Animal": Garfield (a.k.a. Specimen 19-GB) tries to escape being dissected by scientists.
  • "The Garden": A girl named Cloey and a certain orange kitten live in what may or may not be the Garden of Eden and confront what may or may not be Pandora's Box. Diabetes flavoured.
  • "Primal Self": A cat named Tigger lives as an ordinary housecat until a memory from the past triggers a frightful transformation.
  • "Garfield": The origin story for Garfield's present life as portrayed in the comic strip, starting from his birth and including his first encounters with Jon and Odie.
  • "Space Cat": Garfield struggles to survive when he's lost in space in the galaxy's crappiest spaceship.

Was also adapted into an Animated Television Special, which removed some of the stories and added a few new ones. "Babes and Bullets" was also made as a separate special. The new lives ("In The Beginning ...", "Cave Cat", "Lab Animal", "The Garden", "Garfield" and "Space Cat" remain) of the Animated Anthology are:
  • "King Cat": In Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh's sacred cat discovers what happens to him if the Pharaoh dies.
  • "Court Musician": The king demands a concerto from "Freddie" Handel, and if the king doesn't enjoy it ... Under the pressure of a deadline, "Freddie" delegates part of the work to his pet, a blue cat.
  • "Stunt Cat": A Deliberately Monochrome segment where Garfield is (briefly) a stunt double for Krazy Kat.
  • "Diana's Piano": A young girl, Sara, receives a cat, Diana, who goes with her everywhere, especially to piano lessons. Told in flashback, has a realistic art style and tone, and is depressing as hell.

May be distantly related to The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. Between this and the licensed parody Garfield Minus Garfield, it seems, Jim Davis is a pretty cool guy.

The book provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Bought the farm for failing to field a fetched frap tree."
  • Anachronism Stew: In "Cave Cat" cavemen exist at the same time as dinosaurs, real-estate salesmen, and George Burns.
  • Art Shift: Occurs often, as it was written and drawn by various artists.
  • Book Ends: "The Vikings" begins and ends with two almost identical scenes, just set 1000 years apart.
  • Cats Are Mean: "Primal Self".
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Though it's more reincarnation. The book justifies by having God with feline features.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: "In The Beginning ..." portrays heaven as having an entire design department for creating new species.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Helga the Viking.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some of the stories go to much darker places than standard Garfield fare.
  • Distant Finale: "Space Cat". Subverted; the short, at least in the book, ends with modern-day Garfield exiting a video game simulation booth.
    • "The Vikings" and "Garfield" can also be considered to have self-contained ones (with the former ending in the year 2984, and the latter ending with Garfield and Odie's old age, telling stories to a new generation of kittens).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Incredibly Huge Galactic War Fleet.
    "We of the I.H.G.W.F. have no hearts. We do, however, appreciate a tidy ship. We will give you 7 minutes instead of 5. Then we atomize you.
  • Expositron 9000: The beginning of "Space Cat":
    Computer: Welcome to space, Mr. Cat. I suppose you were wondering why you are here.
    Garfield: A keen grasp of the obvious.
    Computer: Well, it is really quite simple. You see, all we require is that you survive, Mr. Cat. We are monitoring the survival instincts of a cat in his last life.
    Garfield: (shocked) In his la... la-last life?
    Computer: As you are well aware, a cat has nine lives.
    Garfield: And, uh, don't tell me... I'm living life number nine?
    Computer: I tell it like it is, baby cakes.
  • Film Noir: Parodied in "Babes And Bullets".
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "The Garden", Cloey's uncle Tod tell her and her cat not to open a crystal box he left in the garden. They inspect the box's easy-to-open latch... and then avert this trope when they decide to respect Tod's wishes and never think of the box again. Then again... this was during Garfield's sixth life (third in the TV special)... and it HAD to have ended somehow...
    • Garfield mentions in the introduction that he dies of old age, but remained young at heart his entire life which was the point of the segment
  • Freudian Excuse: In the book, most lives explain traits of Garfield.
    • Cave Cat = fear/hatred of dogs
    • Vikings = mean behavior
    • Babes and Bullets = "The most significant thing I learned from this life was that I swore off work."
    • Exterminators = not eating mice
    • Lab Animal = fearing the veterinarian.
  • Furry Denial: In Garfield's introduction to Space Cat:
    Garfield: I'd like to think I'll live forever, but hey, I'm only human.
  • Genre Roulette: Comedy is the main jest. But there's also noir, sci-fi, and horror.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Being a private dick isn't easy with a name like Sam Spayed."
    Attractive Female Cat: Are you Spayed?
    Spayed's Narration: I never know how to answer that question.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Big Bob come!"
  • Horny Vikings: "The Vikings"
  • Leg Cling: Parodied. In "The Vikings", Helga strikes a classic pose as one of her subordinates clings onto her leg.
  • Medium Awareness: In "The Vikings," Helga threatens to kick an employee "halfway into the next frame" — and does.
  • Mood Whiplash: The extremely dark story "Primal Self" comes in between the childishly sweet and innocent "The Garden" and the almost purely comedic "Garfield".
  • One Million B.C.: "Cave Cat", complete with dinosaurs.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Sam Spayed does this throughout "Babes And Bullets", even lampshading it when he wonders "why am I talking to myself?"
  • Retcon: The origin story of the strip version of Garfield (his eighth life) shows Jon picking Odie up for the first time, contradicting the strip itself which established that Odie was brought into the house as the pet of Jon's former roommate, Lyman.
  • Slapstick: "The Exterminators". It's a Three Stooges homage, what did you expect?
  • Space Opera: Parodied in "Space Cat".
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. Which is Definitely not for kids.
  • Stealth Pun: Bjorn in "The Vikings" wears football gear and his group invade St. Paul. Minnesota Vikings.
  • Stripperific: Helga's preferred outfit for pillage and plunder is a pair of panties, a gold bikini, and nothing else.
  • Sugar Bowl: Uncle Jod's garden.
  • Transformation Sequence: The Vikings after Garfield shouts "Booga!" Also present in "Lab Animal".
  • Transformation Trauma: Lab Animal. Garfield (19-GB) goes from a tabby cat to a Jack Russell Terrier, complete with werewolf-style spine-cracking back arch and erupting claws.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "Garfield" after Odie saves Garfield from being hit by a truck, Garfield promises that he'll always be grateful to Odie. Cut to the two in their senior years, and Garfield is recounting the events to his grandchildren, but paints Odie as the one who was nearly hit by the truck to make himself look good. Odie is not amused.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: "The Vikings" and "Garfield" both have this.
  • Wretched Hive: St. Paul, Minnesota. At least from the Vikings' perspective.

Aside from the tropes carried over from the book, the special provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Odie has a much bigger role in the TV version of "Space Cat" than he did in the original book's story.
  • Artistic License History: The "King Cat" Pharaoh is killed by a dynamite stick (which Garfield tosses aside as he doesn't recognize - "Whatever it is, it probably hasn't been invented yet").
  • Art Shift: Often, as just like the book, the special was directed by many people.
  • Bad Boss: Garfield supervising the pyramid-building slaves in "King Cat".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted in "King Cat." Odie saves Garfield from the tomb at the end, but only to serve as his slave.
  • Big Sleep: After hearing her last piano concert from married mother Sara, Diana jumps down onto the piano keyboard, yawns, and drifts off into a deep sleep from which she never wakes up. So heartbreaking.
  • Body Horror: 19-GB's horrifying Transformation Sequence due to the injection he received. On the upside, becoming a dog allowed him to escape being recaptured.
  • Book Ends:
    • It opens and ends with God (in the opening segment, creating cats; in the ending, talking to Odie and an out-of-lives Garfield).
    • Crossing with Ironic Echo: "King Cat" opens and closes with the Pharaoh sending his pet to supervise the construction of the pyramids. First, Garfield carried by dogs and whipping Odie. Later, Odie - the pharaoh's brother pet - carried by cats and whipping Garfield.
  • Cain and Abel/Evil Chancellor: The Pharaoh's brother wants to take over his place as ruler of Egypt. Eventually he does.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: God lampshades this ("Well, let's just say it'll make for a great plot of a story, okay?")... though the special ends with a reveal of blinking cat-like eyes.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Takes it one step further, by having God's computers 'on the blink' and not being able to keep track of the number of lives.
  • Death by Adaptation: ...sorta. In the book, "Space Cat" is a simulation. In the TV special, Garfield really dies and has to meet God as he ran out of lives. Fortunately, Garfield gets to live again and even gets the full nine lives back.
  • Embarrassing Slide: The "decapitation slideshow" in "The Court Musician" is briefly interrupted by a slide of the jester in a pool party.
  • Face Framed In Static: God. And apparently he was modeled after Garfield's voice actor Lorenzo Music.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The opening theme song at the beginning of the film says, "When you've got nine lives, you've got nine of them to lose." Guess what happens at the end of "Space Cat"...
    • Before "Space Cat", Garfield comments that "I'd like to think I'll live forever". After unfairly losing his ninth life, he gets another nine lives, allowing him to live even longer.
  • Freudian Excuse: Court Musician wasn't exempt. "I learned to think on my feet in my fourth life. Thinking was okay, I guess. But now I avoid it whenever possible."
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Space Cat" has Operations Data Index Element.
  • Gender Bender: Apparently Garfield was female in one of his past lives ("Diana's Piano")
  • Justified Extra Lives: In the TV special God lets Garfield return because in his last life he was put in an "unfair position". And he gets all 9 because of the defect listed in Celestial Bureaucracy. Garfield even gets the same deal for Odie by claiming he's a cat. (Or maybe God knows exactly what life Garfield's on and that Odie's a dog; He's just playing favorites. "We have to stick together you know...")
  • Karma Houdini: In "King Cat", evil Pharaoh Black Bart kills his good brother and gets away with ruling Egypt. He now has the slave dog (Odie) in charge in place of King Cat at the end! Could also count as Laser-Guided Karma as Garfield wasn't the kindest of royalty around.
  • Leitmotif: A... thought-provoking use in the epilogue. Garfield and Odie happily return to life to music from "The Garden" - then God says "We have to stick together, you know" to a musical sting from "Lab Animal", while sporting glowing cat eyes also seen in that segment.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: Twice in the Space Cat portion — once when the vending machine malfunctions, and again when Garfield's secret weapon is "declawed".
  • Lighter and Softer: Though the special is still a bit darker and more dramatic than the average Garfield special, a lot of the book's much darker elements were notably removed.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: "Babes and Bullets" was made to a separate TV special. But there Garfield's a detective cat in a human world.
  • Medium Blending: "The Beginning" is live action, and the return of God in the ending too.
  • Mood Whiplash: Two comedic segments, "The Garden", two comedic segments, the sad "Diana's Piano", the scary "Lab Animal", and more comedic segments (though the ending of the last is kinda dark).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "King Cat" had Garfield trying to protect his moronic Pharaoh/Owner from his scheming brother (after learning that if the Pharaoh kicks the can, Garfield will be stuck in his tomb along with him). It ends with Garfield tossing a lit stick of dynamite in the pyramid without knowing the Pharaoh was inside, not knowing what it was until it was too late.
  • Off with His Head!/Decapitation Presentation: Discussed one too many times by the Villainous Harlequin Jester, not only before George Handel's concert, but also during said concert in which said jester uses the guillotine teeth to slice an apple, rips off the head of the picture of Handel, pulls off the head of the Handel doll, and even showing a slideshow of cutting off each other's heads, which is both scary and funny!
  • Passed In Their Sleep: Happens to Diana herself at the end of "Diana's Piano".
  • Rummage Fail: As Garfield ducks under the console to work on getting his guns online during his final minute, he tosses away a dog bone, a banana peel, a boot, and fuzzy dice.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The painful and scary Transformation Sequence of "Lab Animal"
  • Shaggy Search Technique: "King Cat".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The story and animation of "Lab Animal" is a Shout Out to The Plague Dogs.
    • While likely coincidental due to the special airing around the same time as the film's release, the "Lab Animal" version of Garfield bears a striking resemblance to Oliver.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: The Villainous Harlequin does this on addressing Handel and on the introduction of the concerto to the audience.
  • Tuckerization: The alien captain is called "Commander Mendelsen".
  • Unexplained Accent: One of the Egyptian slaves speaks with a Cockney Accent despite the fact that this was Ancient Egypt in the first place.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Garfield attempts to use a vending machine aboard his spaceship to order lunch, in the form of a cup of coffee and some pie, during his ninth and final life. The machine drops the pie, squashes it with a plate, pours coffee on it, and then crushes it with the coffee mug.

Alternative Title(s):

Garfield His 9 Lives