Garfield Minus Garfield Book

Garfield Minus Garfield, the site that takes the cat out of the popular daily comic strip and calls the result commentary on “the empty desperation of modern life”, has gotten a book deal.

The Ballantine Books publication, due in October, will show “both the original and doctored Garfield strips together on the same page for comparison.” GMG creator Dan Walsh will write a foreword, and this is all with the permission of Garfield creator Jim Davis.

So I’m wondering two things:

1) Why does the press release say that the book is “inspired by the popular webcomic” instead of “collecting”? Is there some kind of legal loophole requiring the one-step-removed language?

2) How much, if anything, is Walsh getting paid for altering someone else’s work?


10 Responses to “Garfield Minus Garfield Book”

  1. Jason Rodriguez Says:

    “2) How much, if anything, is Walsh getting paid for altering someone else’s work?”

    Well, Jim Davis hasn’t drawn Garfield in over a decade and he’s getting serious scratch. I think it takes more work to remove Garfield from the panels compared to what Davis does. Therefore, I think the situation results in a substantial payday. For Jim Davis, of course.

  2. Jer Says:

    1) It’s possible that instead of using the artwork on Walsh’s site, they’re taking the original strips that they already have and doing the same thing that Walsh did. In other words, it may be that this won’t be a collection of strips that we’ve already seen at the site at all. We’ll see I guess.

    2) I’ll bet he’s getting paid for writing the introduction. Beyond that I’ll bet he’s getting paid what Jim Davis feels is appropriate for coming up with the idea. None of this would happen without Davis’s blessing after all.

    With this announcement I finally understand why the website has been allowed to exist for as long as it has – Davis likes it. I wondered why no one had shut it down yet.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Oh, good point about neeing to redo print-quality art. I hadn’t thought of that.

  4. Dave Says:

    There’s, what, about 30 years worth of Garfield material in the can, right? And Walsh came up with a concept that allows for the re-release and re-packaging of said material marketed to a completely different audience – an audience that, for the most part, probably doesn’t even LIKE Garfield! I’d say he’s entitled (at least in a moral sense) to at least a small cut.

    Let’s say a DJ comes up with a radically re-mixed version of a song that was a hit 20 years ago. He puts it up on the web and anyone can listen to it streamed from that site. The songwriter and/or original artist and/or copyright holder comes along and markets it through itunes and makes a fortune… Shouldn’t the DJ get even a small piece?

    For the book format, I think a more effective presentation would be the “minus garfield” version and the original on the next (not facing) page. The lack of context is what makes so many of the GMG versions hilarious, or at least satisfyingly strange. I think the original versions right there where the eye can pick up the context without meaning to before the reader has a chance to enjoy the weirdness of the GMG version will suck a lot of the enjoyment out of it.

  5. Nick Says:

    “Why does the press release say that the book is “inspired by the popular webcomic” instead of “collecting”? Is there some kind of legal loophole requiring the one-step-removed language?”

    IANAL, so take this with a pinch of salt: I imagine they can’t say “collecting” because the webcomic wasn’t officially authorised. Following on from that, I wouldn’t be surprised if the book is all-new with strips that haven’t appeared on the website, so that there’s a clear distinction between the authorised and unauthorised strips. Time will tell

  6. John Says:

    Plus, it’s really a contemporary art sort of thing . . . recontextualization and all the other made-up words we use when talking about it. I’ve covered tons of stuff from that world and what Walsh does would not be out of place in some of the better contemporary art museums around — and, actually, what he does is a lot more successful than some of the things I see.

  7. Lyle Says:

    Let’s say a DJ comes up with a radically re-mixed version of a song that was a hit 20 years ago. He puts it up on the web and anyone can listen to it streamed from that site. The songwriter and/or original artist and/or copyright holder comes along and markets it through itunes and makes a fortune… Shouldn’t the DJ get even a small piece?

    That reminds me of “Rapture Riders” a mash-up that mixed The Doors with Blondie… and became the “new” single used to promote a new greatest hits collection for Blondie?

  8. Rob Spencer Says:

    “2) How much, if anything, is Walsh getting paid for altering someone else’s work?”

    Probably not as much as Dan Didio.

    ba-dum.

  9. travors Says:

    Hi Johanna,

    Fantastic site, I’m now subscribed!

    Travors here, aka Dan Walsh, the guy responsible for garfieldminusgarfield.net
    Here to answer some of your questions!

    I’ll be receiving a small fee for writing the foreword. When it’s translated to euro I think it comes out at about €12.34 (ok that bit’s a joke)
    But that’s it. Nothing more. Frankly, it’s a miracle they’re even involving me. The could have shut my whole site down in the blink of a lawyers eye. But Jim Davis is a guy with a great sense of humour and a gifted business mind.

    ***they’re taking the original strips that they already have and doing the same thing that Walsh did***

    That’s correct. They’ll be copying some that I made on the site and altering their original print quality versions.

    There’s also more but I’m not sure if I can’t talk about it yet ;-)

    Having said that, I don’t think getting paid for “altering someone else’s work” would be such an unusual (or even wrong) thing. Plenty of musicians are paid for sampling other peoples music. And doesn’t nearly every movie of a Shakespeare play alter the original manuscript? Albeit probably with permission first!

    If you’d like to ask me any questions about the book or G-G feel free to get in touch.

    Regards,
    Dan

  10. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for coming by and being so open about answering my questions! (Apologies if the phrasing sounded somewhat brusque.) I really admire your good attitude about all this. Glad to know everyone’s happy about how it’s working out.

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