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MUNCIE, Ind. – Garfield the Cat, Indiana’s most famous feline, has turned 40.


The cartoon cat, created by Muncie native and Ball State graduate Jim Davis, first appeared in 41 newspapers on June 19, 1978. 


Today, the strip appears in more than 2,400 newspapers and reaches 200 million readers around the world.


First Garfield Comic Strip - June 19 1978

Above: The first Garfield comic strip from June 19, 1978. (Paws, Inc.)


Davis says he named the cartoon character after his grandfather James Garfield Davis.


By 1986, Garfield had appeared in several television specials and had been licensed as part of 3,000 products including hats, shirts and stuffed animals who served as vehicle window clings.


Garfield first appeared on television in 1980 and went on to appear in many specials that ran on CBS.  The Saturday morning cartoon show Garfield and Friends ran on CBS from 1988 to 1995.  Lorenzo Music provided the slow and sleepy voice of the lazy cat until his death in 2001.



The pilot episode of Garfield and Friends, which debuted on CBS in Sept. 1988. (YouTube)


In an interview with The Guardian, Davis says at 72, he has no plans to retire.


“I would like to do it for as long as I feel I have something to contribute to it, until someone taps me on the shoulder and says ‘Jim, you’re not funny anymore, stop it.’”


Jim Davis and Garfield the Cat circa 1983Above photo: Jim Davis and Garfield the Cat circa 1983 (Credit: Getty Images / Hulton Archive)


Photo credit: Getty Images / Gabe Ginsberg