Arriving on the heels of last year’s extremely popular webcomic-turned-printed book, Garfield Minus Garfield, this new book by Jim Davis, Garfield Left Speechless: Comics Without Words, takes our lovable friend and fat cat, Garfield, and his popular strips and tweaks them into something entirely new and engaging. All of the strips contained within this book are wordless, except for a “pant,” “slurp,” or other action word that comes courtesy of Odie, toasters, or other objects. No commentary or thought bubbles in sight and readers are left with pure, unadulterated Garfield and his lovable family.
As a longtime lover of Garfield, I found this book to be refreshing and fascinating. I recognized most of the strips from my younger days and, upon this new reading, I found myself wondering more about the scene than I had when there were words there to guide me. What a great comic to share with readers who don’t know how to read, or who are just learning to read, or to stimulate the imagination of readers of all ages. I often found myself thinking, “What was Garfield doing right before this strip?” or “How will this story continue after the final panel?” And with the exclusion of explanatory words, I was better able to explore an alternate explanation or outcome in my own mind. I can only imagine what wonderful stories younger readers will come up with when reading these strips. Another fun activity might be reading the wordless strip, and then finding the strip containing the words and comparing the two.
As always, Garfield and his friends are wonderfully drawn. They are such colorful characters, both figuratively and literally, that words aren’t necessary to bring a laugh and a smile to a reader’s face. This book is chock full of strips from Garfield’s first beginnings to the present day. What a delightful addition to collections where Garfield books are much loved (and probably falling apart, at this point). I loved experiencing Garfield in this whole new way, and although it wasn’t as melancholy as Garfield Minus Garfield (which, at times, sent me on quite the existential journey), this book was just as fun and thought provoking.
Garfield Left Speechless: Comics Without Words
by Jim Davis
Ballantine Books, 2012