James Robert "Jim" Davis (born July 28, 1945) is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of the comic strips Garfield and U.S. Acres (a.k.a. Orson's Farm), the former of which has been published since 1978 and has since become the world's most widely syndicated comic strip. Davis's other comics work includes Tumbleweeds, Gnorm Gnat and Mr. Potato Head.
Davis has written (or in some cases co-written) all of the Emmy Award-winning or nominated Garfield TV specials and was one of the producers behind the Garfield & Friends TV show which aired on CBS from 1988 to 1994. Davis is the writer and executive producer of a trilogy of CGI-direct-to-video feature films about Garfield, as well as one of the executive producers and the creator for the CGI-animated TV series The Garfield Show. He continues to work on the strip.
Jim Davis was born in Marion, Indiana on July 28, 1945. Davis grew up on a small farm in Fairmount, Indiana, with his father James William "Jim" Davis, mother Anna Catherine "Betty" (née Carter) Davis, brother Dave and 25 cats. Davis's childhood on a farm parallels the life of Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, who was also raised on a farm with his parents and a brother, Doc Boy. Jon is a cartoonist, who also celebrates his birthday on July 28. Davis attended Ball State University where he studied art and business. While attending Ball State, he became a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.
Unlike the bachelor, Jon Arbuckle, Davis has been married twice, first to Carolyn (Altekruse), who was allergic to cats, though they owned a dog named Molly. They have a son, James Alexander Davis. On July 16, 2000, Davis married his current wife, Jill, and had two more children: Ashley and Christopher.
In the fall of 2016 Jim Davis joined the faculty of Ball State University in Muncie as an adjunct professor.
Davis resides in Albany, Indiana, where he and his staff produce Garfield under his Paws, Inc. company, launched in 1981. Paws, Inc. employs nearly 50 artists and licensing administrators, who work with agents around the world managing Garfield's vast licensing, syndication, and entertainment empire.
Davis is a former president of the Fairmount, Indiana FFA chapter.
Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for an advertising agency, and in 1969, he began assisting Tom Ryan's comic strip, Tumbleweeds. He then created a comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, that ran for five years in The Pendleton Times, an Indiana newspaper. When Davis attempted to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, an editor told him: "Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs—nobody can relate to bugs!"
On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in 41 newspapers. Today it is syndicated in 2,580 newspapers and is read by approximately 300 million readers each day.
In the 1980s, Davis created the barnyard slapstick comic strip U.S. Acres. Outside the U.S., the strip was known as Orson's Farm. Davis, along with Brett Koth, also made a 2000–03 strip based on the Mr. Potato Head toy.
Davis founded the Professor Garfield Foundation to support children's literacy.
His influences include Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois, Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon and Johnny Hart's B.C.
|Year||Award||Presenting Organization& Sciences|
|1984–85||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield in the Rough, TV special, CBS|
|1985||Elzie Segar Award for Contributions to Cartooning||National Cartoonist Society|
|1986||Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Halloween Adventure, TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1986||Best Strip||National Cartoonist Society|
|1988–89||Emmy Award, Outstanding Animated Program, Garfield's Babes and Bullets, TV special, CBS||Academy of Television Arts & Sciences|
|1988||Sagamore of the Wabash||State of Indiana|
|1989||Reuben Award for Overall Excellence in Cartooning||National Cartoonist Society|
|1989||Indiana Arbor Day Spokesman Award (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||Indiana Division of Natural Resources and Forestry|
|1990||Good Steward Award, (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||National Arbor Day Foundation|
|1991||Indiana Journalism Award (Presented to Jim Davis and Garfield)||Ball State University Department of Journalism|
|1992||Distinguished Hoosier||State of Indiana|
|1995||Project Award||National Arbor Day Foundation|
|1997||LVA Leadership Award (Presented to Paws)||Literacy Volunteers of America|
|2016||Inkpot Award (Presented to Jim Davis)||San Diego Comic-Con International|