Garfield Non Troppo

August 5th, 2006
Garfield Non Troppo

Today David at Boingboing pointed out this series of Garfield comic strips from 1989. It’s remarkable for a Garfield story because it’s dark and depressing, and it’s not trying to be funny.

Here’s why this strip blew me away: Jim Davis clearly took the idea from one of my favorite cartoons, a magnificent Italian short from 1977 called “Valse Triste.” There are just way too many strong similarities. (It’s just 7 minutes long and I highly recommend viewing it: see the YouTube box at the bottom of this post.)

In the cartoon a cat awakens to find himself abandoned in his vacant, dilapidated ruin of a house. The starving feline sees visions of the people he loved offering him food, but the hallucinations disappear whenever he approaches them. That’s precisely what happens to Garfield, and Davis uses the same visual past/present layering technique used in the 1977 cartoon. (“Feline Fantasies” appears in Bruno Bozzetto’s film “Allegro Non Troppo“, a decidedly un-Disney homage to Disney’s “Fantasia.”)

This is not the darkest Garfield story. When I was little I found what are still two of the most disturbing comic strips I’ve ever read. They appear in the 1984 book “Garfield: His 9 Lives” which tells stories of Garfield’s past and future. In “Primal Self,” Garfield appears to viciously murder a doddering old lady. The other is a photorealistic strip entitled “Lab Animal.” (I wish I still had this book! If you know where I can find these strips online please point me to them.)

“Valse Triste” by Bruno Bozzetto, 7 minutes:

30 Responses to “Garfield Non Troppo”

  1. comment number 1 by: Robotech_Master

    You know, that 9 lives thing was made into a TV special, which featured at least some of those past and future stories you mention. Wonder if it’s ever been sold on DVD.

  2. comment number 2 by: Jobriga

    I have the “9 lives” book – some surprisingly great stories in there. More info can be found at (no strips online, though).

  3. comment number 3 by: Faith

    Wow, that was the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen — very cool though, thanks.

  4. comment number 4 by: Thalli

    I had all of the old Garfield books growing up– and it’s likely that their still in my home attic. I’ll give it a look next time I am around there.

  5. comment number 5 by: Kitty

    *Nine Lives* – oh god, yes! I read it once in the store when I was about nine and it’s haunted me for years ever since.

  6. […] taco links The store down the street, which is a sort of superpowered sleazy convenience store, has a big sign advertising the foods it sells, and one of the foods is “taco links”. WTF taco links? Anyway, I have linky goodness for you today. If you care to view The Whoreshoes website, you will see that we have our tour dates posted for our tour in Belgium and Holland. Or The Netherlands. It’s hard to say. If you’re going to be in that neck of the woods you should come see us. Also, keep watching this space (or that one) because I reckon there will soon be some new mp3’s for your listening pleasure! But that’s boring. What’s really interesting is this post on Boing Boing about an angst-filled week of Garfield from back in the day. I read the blurb and then I clicked the link and read the comics and thought to myself “what a weird and excellent hoax they are perpetrating!” I love a good hoax. And the addition to the Garfield entry on Wikipedia was the topper. But, apparently it’s true – these strips are available on the Garfield site. Weird. And it’s based on an obscure short film from 1977. And I can’t stop thinking about it. So now neither can you. Lastly, I don’t know if you remember the Best Video Ever, but that same band, OK Go, has gone and done it again, and made the New Best Video Ever. Sun, Aug 06 2006 spend your money: buy my things buy me things buy my band’s cd quick links: Yarn-A-Go-Go jooyeaplace The Whoreshoes The Slacker Stalker sweat flavored gummi scamper RSS Feed […]

  7. comment number 7 by: bob

    er is that little end bit of the weeping ladies part of the piece, or something that was tacked on later?

    /time to get my cat stuffed so he’ll never wever weber die

  8. comment number 8 by: sean

    re: weeping ladies at end — well, yes and no… The cartoon was from a feature-length movie that consisted of a cartoonist drawing the cartoons live as an orchestra played. So there were live-action sequences that transitioned into each cartoon story, like in Fantasia. So if you consider “the piece” the whole movie, the weeping ladies were part of it. But not part of the cat story.

  9. comment number 9 by: Brendan

    I found this fascinating reading – I’d never known Garfield to be anything other than a gimmick comic. When looking at the Wikipedia article on “Garfield: His Nine Lives” I noticed that in the story “The Vikings” “Garfield The Orange” loots and pillages St Paul, Minnesota. It clicked in my mind that this is the hometown of Peanuts creator Charles Shulz. I wonder if that is just coincidence?

  10. comment number 10 by: Derek

    the way I view it, he’s just a stray who wishes he had a family, not a cat who formerly had a family. Unless the French intro states this, it seems that it’s reading things into it to assume he’s been abandoned or lost his owners.

  11. comment number 11 by: Jesse

    I remember seeing the Garfield: Nine Lives movie as a child. It was on VHS. I remember watching it twice. I don’t remember any of the 9 lives except for Lab Animal. That gave me nightmares and I could never quite forget it.

  12. comment number 12 by: tony

    wow. fascinating. i too was a huge garfield fan growing up, and when i was 10 i got a copy of nine lives for christmas. some of those illustrations and bizarre storylines truly terrified me, particularly lab animal. i need to dig that up. thank you for this, it truly brings back some great childhood memories.

  13. […] Según este interensantísimo post del blog cheesebikini?, la tira comparte muchos puntos en común con un corto de animación italiano llamado "Feline Fantasies", el cual aparecía en la película de Bruno Bozzetto "Allegro Non Troppo", según lo que se puede leer en cheesebikini?, un homenaje a Fantasía, pero con un estilo distinto al de Disney. El corto, el cual podéis ver en el post mencionado antes, es precioso. En el mismo post me he enterado de que esta no es la primera vez que Garfield ha dejado de ser gracioso: en la novela gráfica "Garfield: His 9 Lives", publicada en 1984, y convertida en 1988 en un especial de televisión, se narran 9 historias relativamente relacionadas con Garfield, más adultas de lo normal, parece ser. Más información en la Wikipedia. […]

  14. comment number 14 by: Pfeutzeneutre

    You can find the book used for as low as $0.01 at

  15. comment number 15 by: sama

    the music playing is Jean Sibelius, Swan of Tuanela. It’s about Finniah mythology of the entrance to the underworld, which is at the lake Tuanela, where a black swan dances a waltz on the surface.

    More on that here:

  16. […] Até agora não encontrei nada sobre esta tirinha além deste post no Cheesebikini?. […]

  17. […] Garfield Non Troppo […]

  18. comment number 18 by: Chuck

    I have never read “Garfield: His 9 Lives,” nor have I seen the movie “Allegro Non Troppo,” but I have recently read about both. According to “The Firebird” segment from “Allegro Non Troppo” wonders what the world would be like if temptation would have been avoided in the garden of Eden. This sounds similar to “The Garden” from the 9 lives book. This is based on my limited knowledge of both subjects, but the movie may have influenced more than one of Jon Davis’s stories.

  19. comment number 19 by: mario rossi

    No lives, only pain. All-consuming. Touching.

  20. […] Update: This guy points out that this Garfield strip is likely based on this old Italian cartoon […]

  21. comment number 21 by: lexis

    hey i have that book i am like in love withg garfield!!! i could scan it to u! email me @

  22. comment number 22 by: Mandy

    Thank God for you guys. I’ve been searching for a copy of this movie. I remember it so clearly from my childhood, but every time I mention it to someone, they look at me like I have two heads. I’ve tried to order it at places like HMV and from movie catalogues but it seemed that no out there ever saw it or heard of it. If ANYONE knows where I can order a copy, please let me know.

  23. comment number 23 by: Aaron

    Can anyone repost the Feline Fantasies video or send it to me at ? It was removed from YouTube unfortunately.

  24. comment number 24 by: Required Name

    The Feline Fantasies video was removed from YouTube, despite the fact they don’t have permission from ME to remove anything that I want to see.

  25. comment number 25 by: Mike

    I haven’t come across the “Garfield Non-Troppo” but the Feline Fantasies video is on YouTube It is a pretty depressing video but it’s delivered very well. If anyone comes across the Garfield version please let us know where we can view it.

  26. comment number 26 by: maxeythecat

    Bruno Bozzetto’s “Feline Fantansies” is probably one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking pieces of animation ever created. It’s a segment from an Italian film “Allegro Non Troppo” that was released in 1977. Though touted as a send up of Disney’s Fantasia, the only real similarity to that movie is the fact that the animation is set to classical music…from that point the two movies are about as different as you can get. From randy satyrs to arse stinging bees, the humor is a bit raunchier, the live action comedy between segments decidedly more amusing and entire look of the film infinitely more specialized than anything ever produced by the House of Mouse. The “Fantasies” segment was based on Bossetto’s memories of World War ll, depicting the grief,anguish, and utter hopelessness that refugees felt when they returned home at war’s end to find nothing left of their former lives but ashes and the memories of what once was. It’s a masterpiece and though I’ve never seen Davis’ version of it, he does honor to what to me is one of the most exquisitely rendered works of art created by man.

  27. comment number 27 by: Justin liu

    I bought a ton of the classic garfield comics for about a buck each. I also have the book 9 lives. Lucky me! 😀

  28. […] UpdateThis site has a lot of the information about the strips as well as a really cool animation that is very similar to the actual strip and its story […]

  29. comment number 29 by: ryti


  30. […] Yes, I’m talking about the infamous “Garfield Dies” comic that rocked the Internets a couple years back. In these strips, which Davis has said were written to be purposely unfunny (instead of the regular ol’ incidentally unfunny, Garfield wakes up to find himself completely alone in an abandoned house. Jon and Odie are gone and Garfield finds himself in an existential crisis, which he seemingly escapes in the final strip through willpower and denial. (click here 1 2 3 4 5 6 to read the entire six-strip series on the hideous website) […]