EDITED TO ADD: Since Dan Walsh has showed up to shed some light on the situation, there’s an update here.
Sean T. Collins (whom I’ve now actually met, as well as e-published) posts a press release from Ballantine Books and Jim Davis’ Paws, Inc announcing the publication of a Garfield Minus Garfield print collection.
Paws, Inc. and Ballantine Books, a division of the Random House Publishing Group, announced last week at Comic-Con International that Ballantine will publish a book inspired by the popular webcomic Garfield Minus Garfield.
Garfield Minus Garfield (www.garfieldminusgarfield.net) made its online debut in February 2008 and quickly became an online sensation based on a simple premise: What would Jim Davis’ Garfield comic strip be like without its lasagna-loving fat cat? Without the presence of Garfield and other characters such as Odie the dog and Nermal the kitten, the strips “create a new, even lonelier atmosphere for Jon Arbuckle…Jon’s observations seem to teeter between existential crisis and deep despair.” (New York Times)
The full-color book format will give readers the experience of having both the original and doctored Garfield strips together on the same page for comparison. Dublin, Ireland-based Garfield Minus Garfield creator Dan Walsh will provide the foreword to the book.
Garfield creator Jim Davis was intrigued by—and pleased with—the concept. “I think it’s an inspired thing to do,” Davis said. “I want to thank Dan for enabling me to see another side of Garfield. Some of the strips he chose were slappers: ‘Oh, I could have left that out.’ It would have been funnier.”
Garfield Minus Garfield site creator Dan Walsh says, “When I looked at Jon and laughed at his crazy antics I thought ‘He’s just like me.’ As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one saw myself in him: millions of visitors from all over the world visit Garfield Minus Garfield and tell me they think the same thing. Now, thanks to the awesome generosity and humor of Jim Davis, Garfield Minus Garfield is going to become a book and I’m absolutely honored to be part of it.”
First, let me echo Sean and applaud Davis for seeing this as an opportunity rather than an attack. But this story is still pretty upsetting to me, actually.
I suspect this is only going to be a bigger and bigger problem as time goes by, but “Garfield Minus Garfield site creator Dan Walsh” is making a heap of cash from a meme that’s been around for years. Realfield dates back at least to fall 2007, this one to fall 2006, and this “Garfield minus Garfield” was posted to ED six months before Walsh launched his site, for Chrissake.
I just found out that Eric Nakagawa sold Icanhascheezburger.com for $2 million. The new owners, “Pet Holdings Inc,” now apparently operate a whole family of irritating ad-ridden sites based on the principle of stealing from underground net humor. Don’t even get me started on this. I guess now I know how old-school hip-hoppers felt when Vanilla Ice sold 15 million.
These kind of thefts were mildly amusing when ebaumsworld and SA and 4chan would squabble amongst themselves about who invented what. But now that the big money has started to arrive, it’s all become much less funny. Nothing actionable, but this kind of stuff is by nature collaborative, born out of the rapid-fire oneupmanship of a thousand Anonymous nerds doing it for the lulz, and it’s actually kind of sad to see that exploited.