Category Archives: Art & Music

The Demise of Rock Music

Here’s why the wide-spanning genre isn’t in the American mainstream anymore.

Rock is one of the most complex and storied genres in all music, despite beginning less than a century ago. The genre contains countless subgenres with many variations, such as the present contrast between hard and soft rock. Many have associated the genre with lively drums, powerful guitars, and teenage revolutions. However, when facing 2022’s pop radios and streaming services at face value, new rock artists are barely visible. It’s near-impossible for an average adult or teen to name a newly developing rock band. Rock’s dead, at least, within the American mainstream.

Rock’s dead, at least, within the American mainstream.

Rock began in the 1950s with the rock ‘n’ roll movement: a combination of genres such as jazz and blues with new ideas mixed in. In the 70s, certain rock acts such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd explored their guitars to shoot rock entirely into the mainstream. More varied bands appeared in the 80s and 90s, such as the romantic U2 and the grunge-y Nirvana (the latter of which paved the way for a lot of the rock landscape nowadays). These bands had airplay on the most popular radio channels, so this adds to the question: what happened to make rock bands fall off the map?

Nirvana has enjoyed a resurgence over the past year since The Batman used “Something in the Way” as its trailer and soundtrack music.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act was the first significant change to radio regulation in America since the 1930s. The cap on the number of radio stations one group could host was altered from 40 to as many as possible. Now a select group of companies run hundreds of all the radios and manipulate what type of music they play; most of them play the same artificial pop songs on every radio. This influences the rock industry in multiple ways. For example, it is almost impossible to get airplay as a local rock band, and if companies don’t believe that rock is going to give them popularity (which it won’t), they won’t play it. But why won’t rock draw in listeners?

“I think it was the move from analog to digital; the move from album to CD; the move to snippets of manufactured songs created by demographic. [Artists] make what the corporate says will sell.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

Mr. Tim Breen, rock music aficionado, in his natural habitat – Room 3

The first, most obvious reason is that there are genres that have overshadowed rock’s draw. Rap began during the 70s, but it has steadily gained attention. The genre utilizes flows and beats to create enjoyable songs that can resonate with listeners. Other examples of newer genres that are beginning to obscure rock include EDM and indie. All of the aforementioned categories utilize electronics over the guitar, and its evident that younger listeners would rather listen to these developing genres. There’s a better chance that an average mount man could name more rappers than rockstars.

Kendrick Lamar The DAMN. Tour @ TD Garden (Boston, MA) (35709932740).jpg

Kendrick Lamar, one of the world’s most popular rappers, preforming live in front of hundreds of fans (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The second reason is that the fundamental instruments of rock – the guitar and drums – have already been utilized to their fullest. However, genres that use electronics are constantly pioneering new instruments and tools to keep people listening. Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins shared this opinion. “They’re engaging in new technology. Guitar isn’t new technology—there are only so many ways you can warp it around,” Corgan said while comparing rock to electric genres. The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the best-selling bands of the 1990s, so it’s stark to see their frontman recognizing rock’s death.

“Anything with autotune in it, you can blow that up. Real musicians play with real instruments. That’s why I love live music, because you can find out who can or can’t play it.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

The grunge band Aberdeen has recently begun with the goal to mimic the classic sound of the nineties. The young musicians have already released and thoroughly advertised multiple EPs containing intricate production and vocals, so why aren’t they popular yet? The answer is their sound was already heard decades ago from bands such as Nirvana and other alternative artists. Nothing new is present in these songs, but can the band help it? The higher-ups of the music industry know that young audiences will find the music old and unexciting, so they don’t push it out as much. Many new rock artists suffer from this dilemma every day.

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The 3 members of Nirvana, who could be considered rock’s last huge band (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In order to get an opinion from a far more mature music fan, I interviewed the Mount’s Mr. Tim Breen. Mr. Breen is a Theology teacher known to be a diehard fan of rock music. Mr. Breen expressed his strong opinion about modern music passionately: “There was just more art and aesthetic into creating an album than from beginning to end than there is with these idiotic songs of three minutes and twenty-eight seconds that are manufactured at a corporate level.” By the end of our conversation, he had driven home the point that the industry is now driven by technology, greed, algorithms, and autotune, all of which are enemies to the creativity within rock.

“There’s no comparison. [Rock] was everywhere. It was dominant. I never bought music because you didn’t need to; you always heard it on the radio or at concert.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

No matter their attachment to it, people should acknowledge rock’s absence from mainstream music and the charts. It doesn’t stand a chance within the modern music landscape compared to newer genres that continue to grow in popularity. The artists who produce rock find it much harder to have their music heard than in the past, as the switch from analog to digital led to a chokehold being held on America’s music industry. Due to the developments within the past two decades, modern rock has suddenly morphed into a niche genre that is gaining less and less respect. I love rock music, but the genre will never reach the popularity it once did.

Jude Danner is a Freshman member of the Quill.

The Art Shack

Episode 1:

In the first episode of Art Shack, we give an overview of different forms of expression in art. Art is fundamentally that, an expression, and it can be shown in many ways. We introduce this topic and give some examples of famous pieces of art from history.

Episode 2: Chuck Close

Chuck Close was an extraordinarily accomplished and highly talented artist. He created so many notable works in his time and has inspired so many. Despite some controversy both at the beginning and end of his career, he is undeniably an art legend. Upon his recent death, I found covering him on the show appropriate.

Episode 3: Art in Secondary Education

As a high schooler who finds art important, this was a necessary topic to cover. Art is something, that in recent times, has been overlooked at this level of education. But it is one of the most enriching subjects for students of all ages and throughout his episode I express that and give examples.

The Art Shack was designed, created, and produced by John Lauer.

John is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

From ceramics to K-pop, how Korea’s art has evolved

Korea has a long history of art and poetry. There are numerous surrounding nations and cultures for the Korean people over the ages to draw from. Between their neighboring countries, religion, naturalism, and personal expression in one of the most repressive nations in history, there is a lot to express and also many cultural mediums to express that through.

For the understanding of Korean art, there is a level of knowledge of Korean culture that many in the west do not have. This is not surprising as one of the defining characteristics of Korean culture is reclusiveness and suppression. This sounds brutal, and perhaps sometimes it is. The people of the Korean peninsula have been reclusive to their nation and repressed individually.

To a modern American, this may sound awful. This created as many obvious issues as one could imagine. But it also made the most harmonious and peaceful society ever. As well as this, for most of modern Korean history, there was a highly encouraging outlet for these pent-up emotions, questions, or perspectives. Art and poetry. The number of built-up emotions, thoughts on society, and questions about the world, that were just inside of every Korean, allowed for a great deal of beautiful and culturally rich art and poetry.

For as long as Korea has had art and Buddhism, they have mixed. There is an excellent heft of Korean Buddhist art. Though the defining philosophy of Korea for some time has been Confucianism, because of how pervasive in all aspects of society it is, it often works hand in hand with Buddhism, Christianity, folk religion, or any religion/philosophy. We see this now with western capitalism being very firmly rooted in South Korea and other western ideas. However, Confucist and traditional Cofucist Korean practices are still in place.

Pensive bodhisattva, Gilt bronze, Korea
Pensive bodhisattva, a Korean Buddhist statue from the Three Kingdoms period (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Korean art follows a few main phases. But these are based on the influence on the peninsula. These influences can be broken down into a few main eras. First, the Three Kingdoms period from 57B.C.-668A.D. The Three Kingdoms period was when the Korean Peninsula was separated into three main kingdoms Goguryeo in the north, Baekje in the southwest, and Silla in the southeast. There was also a tiny kingdom Kaya in the south, and part of the north was controlled by Chinese dynasties. This was the time when Buddhism was first introduced to Korea. This affected the artworks of the time to have more Chinese style incorporated in their works. However, Korean culture remained united through their art and culture, separate from Chinese influences.

Just from the length of this period in history, you can see many changes over time. When it comes to Chinese influences, you will see that the Buddhist aspect of East Asian culture is more prominent at specific points. The level of harmony and peace in Korean society and culture also contributes to how long these phases of Korean history last, not only in the Three Kingdoms Period but with their next major steps in the Korean timeline.

After the Three Kingdoms, Korea did go through a lot of turmoil due to the constantly changing hands of the political systems of the peninsula. There are numerous rules of Korea separated up into different kingdoms until in 918A.D. The law falls into the hands of the Kingdom of Goryeo.

Goryeo continues to rule the entirety of what we know to this day as Korea until 1392A.D. We saw the introduction of Buddhism from India via China in the Three Kingdoms. We see the Golden Age of Korean Buddhism with the Goryeo kingdom. The most notable example of this is the Tripitaka Koreana. This is one of the most famous pieces of art ever made. This is a collection of 80,000 pages of Korean Buddhist canon printed using woodblocks. The woodblocks are a national treasure of Korea and are in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

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Also, at this time, ceramics, porcelain structures, and other craftwork was flourishing. Especially the Jinsa strategy using copper oxide. This was so successful it was later exported to the Yuan dynasty in China.

Immediately following Goryeo, the longest-reigning Kingdom to have control of Korea came to power. This was the well-known Joseon dynasty. The Joseon dynasty ruled until the Japanese stomped them out. They led from 1392A.D. to 1897A.D., over 500 years, and the Kingdom underwent changing societal influences multiple times. However, through these events, like becoming a tributary state of the Qing dynasty in China, there were many notable and independent aspects of Joseon when it comes to culture and art.

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Confucianism became the principal ideology of Korea throughout this period. This meant that people were becoming even more adapted to the reclusive aspects of Korean culture. Related to these cultural changes, the art scene also had a lot of developments both concerning Confucianism and changes independent of ideology. Korean art throughout this time separated from the Chinese despite sharing Confucian values. Koreans did this by increasing realism in their art, which became a distinct feature of Korean art but not Chinese. Ceramics also flourished throughout this period, predominantly white and blue ceramics using cobalt pigment.

Jar decorated with flowers and insects, Porcelain with cobalt-blue design, Korea
Jar decorated with flowers and insects from the 18th century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The fall of Joseon came from increasing conflict with the outside world. That eventually culminated in a short-lived “Korean Empire” that was soon annexed to Japan after its founding. This rule under Japan lasted until 1945. This period was tragic for Korea and its people. Koreans were treated without respect and were highly suppressed by the Japanese. Unfortunately, there is not much to show from this period.

After this Japanese rule fell, Korea, unfortunately, suffered once more. Korea fell into a civil war that never truly ended. There was a ceasefire in 1953, which created a mostly peaceful Korean peninsula. While the tension is not gone, there have been no regime shifts since the ceasefire, and Korea is split into two parts. A democratic republic, modeled after and supported by the United States in the south. This is the Republic of Korea or South Korea as most know it. In the northern half, the people have been living under an authoritarian communist dictatorship backed by China and for some time the Soviet Union, this is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea.

North Korea has continued down a road of isolation to become the most isolated country in the world. They also have very poor human development and human rights. Due to these, there is next to no art produced by the free will of artists. There is almost no art that is not a tool of the dictatorship. In the south, there has been an entirely different story. South Korea has become increasingly intertwined with western and, specifically, American culture. There are some negatives and positives to this. However, for the most part, Koreans have been able to hold onto their traditional culture while also adapting aspects of the far more liberal western and American culture that amplifies and idealizes self-expression. This has led to a much more diverse pool of art coming from Korea. Everything from realism, western styles like impressionism, and much more.

Within this advancement and change in Korean art, there are other aspects besides just the painted art that have been majorly influential. There is a large amount of South Korean artistic media growing in popularity throughout Korea and the world, particularly Japan, The United States, and China. This is known as the Korean Wave. The Korean Wave takes on many forms of visual and musical art and media.

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The most popular of these in the world today is Korean pop music or K-pop. K-pop has become vastly popular worldwide mostly with groups of young performers such as GFRIEND, Stray Kids, and BTS. These groups mix catchy music with impressive choreography that has taken the world by storm. The pop music industry in Korea has faced scrutiny recently due to the treatment of its performers. While many performers in the industry are seemingly paid less than they deserve for their work due to the contracts they have with the label companies that own their work, there are few cases where companies have done anything illegal to take advantage of performers in Korea. It is primarily a moral concern that is hard to judge from the outside.

Art and culture are directly correlated. As the culture in Korea continues to change, so will the art and media. We have seen Korea go through so many different stages, politically and culturally. And we have seen these stages have their effect through art. Korea has one of the most beautiful and rich artistic histories that spans everything from early ceramics to the K-pop of the modern day.

John Lauer is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Donuts: The best album you have never heard of

J Dilla’s magnum opus Donuts is the best album you have never heard of. J Dilla is regarded as one of the best Hip-Hop producers ever. Anyone who enjoys 90s Hip Hop has probably listened to a J Dilla-produced song. Donuts, unlike Dilla’s former albums, was an entirely instrumental album. Dilla’s voice is not heard during the album, yet Donuts carries a vibe that most instrumental music fails to portray.

Donuts has multiple meanings. Dilla loves donuts, something his friends would bring him during their weekly vinyl drop-off while Dilla was in the hospital. Donuts also represented the album’s flow, songs do not end, but they are only interrupted by the next song. Tracks suddenly stop once the listener gets the hang of the song. This is a perfect metaphor for how life is always bringing new challenges and exciting moments. Although the album has 31 total tracks, the album’s run time is only 43 minutes. The run time shows that life will go by quick, and you need to cherish every moment.

One of the reasons this album is so excellent is the context of Dilla’s life during the creation of Donuts. Dilla, in 2005 was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and lupus. Dilla’s family almost went bankrupt due to his medical bills and treatments he received, like dialysis. This caused Dilla to produce twenty-nine of the album’s thirty-one tracks from his hospital bed in Los Angeles in the summer of 2005. Dilla rushed to complete Donuts as he couldn’t walk and could barely speak. During the making of Donuts, Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, was always beside him. She would massage his fingers when he was too weak to use a 45-rpm record player and a Boss Sp 303 Sampler. Donuts was released on February 7th, 2006, his 32nd birthday. Unfortunately, Dilla passed away three days after Donuts was released.

Despite his success later in life, Dilla came from humble beginnings. Dilla was born James Dewitt Yancey on February 7, 1974, in Detroit, Michigan. Dilla came from a music background; His mother was a singer, and his dad played piano and bass. During high school, Dilla would meet T3 and Baatin. The trio would later get together again to form the group Slum Village. Dilla, throughout the 1990s, would work with artists such as Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, Q Tip, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes. In the 2000s, Dilla started rapping, and he recorded Welcome 2 Detroit, Jay Dee Volumes 1 and 2, Rough Draft, and then a collaborative album with fellow legend, Madlib called Champion Sound.

Dilla, in these projects, showed a love for the Production Center (MPC) 3000 and sampling machines. With these projects, Dilla had asserted his soul sample-heavy, with loud percussion style. Quest Love of the Roots said about Dilla, “One of the strangest things about Dilla was he wasn’t even a musician in the classic sense, he just had a sound in his head and was able to put it onto tape flawlessly.” Kanye West called Dilla “a drum god.” Dilla in these first albums sounded very mediocre and average in terms of his rapping, but his production was outstanding.

Donuts starts very weirdly with its Outro titled by the same name. J Dilla had switched the intro and outro. Collin Robinson, a music journalist for Shoegaze, says, “it’s almost too perfect a metaphor for Dilla’s otherworldly ability to flip the utter expletive out of anything he sampled.” This twelve-second beat is by far the prettiest in the album. The album’s last song also fits perfectly into the first song, which makes a perfect transition and helps fit the album’s circular nature. Right after those twelve seconds, the album takes a dark cut with the track Workinonit. Workinonit is a homage to Dillas’ hometown as you hear the sounds of speeding cars going by. The first third of this album signifies Dilla’s early life growing up in Detroit. The fact that the outro is the intro and vice versa also shows that Dilla will die in the same setting as he was born – in a hospital surrounded by family. The album continues in this continual flow, just like a river. The only things that change throughout the album are the samples Dilla uses. These samples were given to Dilla by his friends, who would fill crates full of records weekly and give them to Dilla to listen to. Dilla, being from Detroit, had a close relationship with the soul music of Motown that is often forgotten about with people of this generation.

Through Donuts, Dilla reinvented soul music and packaged it for a modern audience to consume. Young people who listen to music now often fail to recognize that almost all their favorite rap songs are sampled from a soul song. Don’t Cry, Last Donut of the Night, Bye, Time: The Donut of the Heart, involve samples from the Jackson 5, Charles Sherrel, The Moments, Gene Chandler, Stevie Wonder, The Escorts, and The Temptations. The song Don’t Cry is dedicated to his younger brother. Donuts talks a lot about Dilla’s mortality. One For The Ghost could be interpreted as death, but also this song was made for Ghost Face Killa from Wu-Tang. One For The Ghost leads into the song Go.

Go is a message about his passing and how he has come to terms with it. The sample throughout says, “come on, baby, go, it is all right.” U Love is dedicated to fans of Dilla. Throughout the track, the listener is told that we are loved by Dilla through a sample of the Commodores. The following two songs are called Hi., and Bye. Bye. It wasn’t the last beat of the album, but it was the last beat of his illustrious career. Last Donut of the Night then hits the ears with such rhythm and beat it is hard not to dance to. Donuts’ sadder songs acknowledge how tragic and sad the present moment is only to find an optimistic tone.

The album is then wrapped up with the upbeat Welcome to the Show, all about how Dilla has accepted his death. The song he sampled was even called When I Die, where the ending of this song has a beat switch that matches perfectly with the first beat of the album. Donuts is an album all about Dilla confronting death in a way no other album can compare to. Without saying a word, Dilla, through samples and song titles displays a specific mood with each song. Donuts would even inspire new sub-genres of Hip Hop such as Lo-Fi. All the greats had great instruments for making music. Jimmi Hendrix had his guitar. Louie Armstrong had a trumpet. J Dilla had an MPC.

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Johannes Vermeer: Catholic Art and the Dutch Golden Age

In the Netherlands, the 17th Century was one of the all-time highs. Philosophy, art, science – reformations in all levels of society were making a better Netherlands. The economy was flourishing; however, one of the significant changes to Dutch society was the Protestant reformation. The Protestant Reformation, which, by the time of famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, had converted most of his native Netherlands. This also brought the Calvinist sect to the forefront of the country, becoming the state religion of the Dutch Republic. It is known as the Dutch Golden Age. 

Vermeer himself strode against the general direction of Dutch society at the time. Vermeer was suspected to be a Catholic convert. This was a dangerous move; after all, public Catholic worship was illegal. He was baptized as a Protestant, but something must have compelled a middle-class man with so much mobility to willingly put a handicap on himself. This motivation could have just been his wife, but it must have been more through his apparent whole-hearted dedication to the Church.

His dedication to his wife proved exceptional not only by his suspected conversion to the Catholic faith but also by his marriage in a Catholic Church outside of his home city of Delft. The start of this suspicion and conversion was his marriage to a Catholic woman, Catharina Bolnes. However, the public practice of Catholicism put himself at risk.

Johannes Vermeer, Allegory of the Catholic Faith, c. 1671–74 or c. 1670–72

In time, his faith grew more, to where he developed a theology of his own. He, with pushes from his wife and mother-in-law, became strongly related to the faith. To the point that he was even denied opportunities. But he did not compromise. He named his children Catholic names such as Franciscus and Elisabeth. He was deeply involved with his Jesuit sect of Catholicism, naming his youngest known son Ignatius after the sect’s founder. You can even see how much of his faith is reflected directly in his paintings.

The denying of Catholicism in Vermeer’s work is a Protestant lie. To a degree, it can be seen as Christian symbolism, which would have been popular with the whole of the Netherlands at the time. But in many instances, his work is distinctly Catholic. Using symbols and motifs shunned by the Calvinist tyrants. Creating work suspected to have been commissioned by local Catholics and local secret Catholic Churches. 

The most famous of his explicitly spiritual and religious paintings is his “The Allegory of Faith,” sometimes known as “Allegory of the Catholic Faith,” painted in 1670-72. 

This work depicts a woman at a makeshift altar. Around her, there are many symbols of the Catholic faith. The first of which is the stone crushing the snake. Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone of the Catholic Church. The general interpretation of this is Jesus crushing the snake, which is the destruction and triumph of Jesus over Satan and the triumph of the Church as a whole. 

The woman herself represents the Church. Depicting the Church as a woman is not exclusive to this work. Other artists have used a woman to represent the alive entity of the Church. This is because the Church is wholly human. As well as this, using a woman gives maternal symbolism. 

She is surrounded by symbols that represent the entity of the Church and her people and how they relate to sin. First is the apple that lay in front of her. This is the apple, the forbidden fruit, that is to Catholics, symbolic of all human sin and our drive as humans to sin. To balance this, in the background, there is a Crucifixion scene from Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens. This counters the apple; the Crucifixion is our redemption. The human God is suffering for us. From this suffering, the forgiveness of and the ability to go against our sins. 

Every part of this piece has a direct correlation to the Church or the Catholic Faith. 

Another famous female representation of the greater Catholic Faith is “Woman Holding Balance,” which Vermeer painted between 1662 and 1664. 

Johannes Vermeer Woman Holding Balance, c. 1662–63 or c. 1663–64

The Catholic interpretation of this work is that the woman is God herself. She is judging humanity at the end of days. The balance could be her judging humanity as a whole or her judging an individual.

The similarities between this work and The Allegory of Faith continue. Along with the woman representing more significant themes in the Church, there is also the painting in the background. In this case painting of Jesus shows the second coming. This is used to show that the setting of this is not only a woman in a room but that it is the second coming or the judgment day. 

Vermeer’s paintings can be looked at together or just as easily as complete works on their own. However, it is worth looking at how he uses the paintings in the background to set the tone and the theme. He uses paintings of Jesus at different stages to create different meanings and atmospheres. Almost all of Vermeer’s known paintings use either another painting, a mirror, or a tapestry in the background. In the two examples I have gone over, it is to set the tone and symbolic setting, but depending on the painting, he can be using it in any number of different tactics. 

Away from Vermeer’s symbolic representations of the Church and God, he used his painting as a way to represent his faith even more. The next painting to be covered is “Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary,” painted between 1654 and 1656. 

Johannes Vermeer, Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary, c. 1654–55
or c. 1654–56 or c. 1655

Though this painting has less analysis needed to find Catholicism present, there is still something to unpack. This shows Vermeer’s dedication to the Church. His parents and his wife’s parents were upset when they married because of their respective family religions. That is a suspected motivation for the creation of this work. Vermeer may have painted this just to show his dedication to Catholicism. 

Vermeer was an artist dedicated to his faith. The level of devotion Vermeer had as a convert is something most people can learn from today. This devotion played a serious role in his art and life. 

John Lauer is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

The decline of the feline

When you hear the term “newspaper comic strip,” what do you think of? Some people’s minds are drawn to the misadventures of Charlie Brown in Peanuts, while others might think of the imaginative and colorful adventures of a young boy and his tiger in Calvin and Hobbes. Among all the other comic strips, the one with the lazy orange feline is the one that reigns supreme, Garfield.

Garfield is one of the most important and influential comic strips. Over its 43-year run, the comic has provided endless hours of entertainment to millions of fans across the globe. However nowadays, Garfield isn’t as popular as he used to be in the 1980s and the 1990s, and most people want to know “what happened?” Slowly over the years, the comic has been on a slow and steady decline in its quality, with seemingly no end to the strip and its downward spiral. Garfield is a former shadow of itself, failing to deliver the same enjoyment and iconic status that it once held, however all hope is not lost, as there are things that can be done to improve the comic to its legendary status.

After Jim Davis had canceled his earliest comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, he began working on a comic strip simply titled Jon that ran in the Pendleton Times newspaper from 1976 to 1977. Soon, the comic would be renamed to Garfield, and would begin its syndication in newspapers on June 19th, 1978. This comic strip followed the daily adventures of Jon Arbuckle, a freelance cartoonist living with his obese, orange tabby cat, Garfield. Together, the two would experience many exciting mishaps, specifically surrounding Garfield’s laziness and constant bothering of Jon. With its deadpan sense of humor and a feeling of sarcastic, dry wit, the comic instantly became a smash hit, with a Sunday strip being added to the comic’s lineup only a year after release. The comic was becoming one of the most popular strips in newspapers. For a brief time, Garfield seemed unstoppable, and would lay the groundwork for hundreds of many future comic strips through its influence on millions of people. However, Jim Davis didn’t wait very long to cash in on his favorite feline and little did he know that this would lead to the downfall of the very thing he created.

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Most people would say that Garfield peaked between the late 1980s to the early 1990s. This was when the comic was at its all-time height of popularity, and Jim Davis wanted a piece of the orange pie. Two years after the comic’s debut, with the comic strip appearing in over a thousand newspapers at the time, Jim Davis founded Paws Inc., a company that would handle the merchandise distribution for the franchise. With the ever-growing popularity of Garfield exploding into pop culture, merchandise sales for the franchise increased as well. Jim Davis would then spend more of his effort and time as a businessman managing the merchandise sales of his comic strip franchise, rather than spending time on the actual comic strip itself. This is the start of Garfield’s slow decline: a push to focus on merchandise on promotions rather than the center of the content. Many would argue that the shift to marketing for the franchise is what got the comic into the state that it is currently in, but I would argue that the comic is not completely lost.

Even after all that has been previously described about the comic’s critical status, the comic is not completely gone. There is a way that Garfield can return to the iconic and legendary status that he once held. The simple answer is that Jim Davis would just have to return to the comic and continue to contribute more. While Jim Davis wouldn’t have to be the head writer for the comic anymore, if he at least were a more involved creative supervisor over the ghost writers and authors, the comic’s quality would absolutely see a positive growth.  It’s no secret that the Garfield comic is mainly handled under unnamed writers and artists under Jim Davis’ name, but if the comic had a more solid direction from Davis himself, chances are the comic’s quality can be improved for the better.

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Garfield has been running for several decades and doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon. The comic has had a massive influence on millions of people across the world and has inspired future generations of comic artists as well. It’s impossible to deny the huge presence and iconic status that Garfield has held, even if it is a simple comic strip about a fat orange cat and his cartoonist owner living in Muncie, Indiana. Even though the comic might be in a quality rut nowadays, hopefully it won’t stay that way forever. If Jim Davis understands why people love Garfield and company so much, then maybe one day he can return to write for his magnum opus. While the comic is not on the same quality as it used to be, the fact the comic is still running is a testament to the legacy of the strip and the characters that Jim Davis has created, and I’m looking forward to reading Garfield for years to come.

Jackson Reichardt is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class