James Robert Davis was born July 28, 1945 at the Marion General Hospital, Marion, Indiana, to James William and Anna (Betty) Carter Davis. He was raised on a 120-acre farm near Fairmount, Indiana, with 25 cats.
He graduated from Fairmount High School in 1963 and Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, in 1967 as an Art and Business Major.
He married Carolyn Altekruse from Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1969. He worked at Groves and Associates Advertising 1968-1969. He then became an assistant to Tom K. Ryan, creator of "Tumbleweeds" cartoon, before launching his own successful strip, "Gnorm Gnat." After five years of drawing this cartoon for an Indianapolis newspaper he dropped "Gnorm Gnat" and developed "Garfield."
"Garfield" ran in the Pendleton Times (edited by Jerry Brewer, Fairmount native) from 1977-1978.
"Garfield", the cat, first syndicated in 1978 and became an international success. "Garfield", the fat cat cartoon, now appears in 2,600 newspapers worldwide and on some 3,500 licensed products.
The Jim Davis Company is named PAWS, INC., located in rural, heavily wooded, 36-acre parcel of land near Muncie, Indiana with an Albany address. He has 20 artists that work under his direct supervision to draw "Garfield", and any products bearing the fat cat's likeness or name; no matter small, it is at some point personally inspected by Davis.
PAWS, originally housed in a small ranch style house located where the office building now stands, was born in 1981. Jim started working out of the living room, then he added staff, and they moved to the kitchen, guest room and garage. It was obvious after running out of space with his 45 employees, that a new building was needed.
In 1990 "Garfield", the fat cartoon cat, had a new $3.9 million high-tech home to prowl around in with his fictional buddies Odie and Nermal. In October of 1990, Davis and his staff at PAWS, Inc. escorted visitors through the 36,200 square-foot headquarters of the feline's empire, which includes the licensing of all products and services that use the orange cat. His staff includes 20 artists, 28 animators, audio-video producers and support staff including 59 employees in 1999.
Jim was named Cartoonist of the Year at the 1990 National Cartoonist Society awards dinner. After six years as a nominee, Davis won the Ruben(the cartoon world's equivalent of the Oscar) for the cynical "Garield", famous for television specials and a host of novelty items as well as newspaper cartoons. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree during graduation exercises on May 4, 1991 at Ball State University. He received the key to his hometown of Fairmount, Indiana in 1982 during the town's annual Museum Days festival, in which Davis is recognized each year by sponsoring a "Garfield" Cat Photo and Art Contest. During Museum Day s in 1980, Jim autographed one of his new "Garfield" comic books for his admiring friends at a booth located at 113 1/2 S Main Street. He also autographed books in the Museum. In 1980 the "Garfield" cartoon was shown on the comic pages of less than 300 newspapers. Jim Davis' appearance in his hometown of Fairmount and the first time that Associated Press and U.P.I. spread him and his cartoon nationwide, was the big beginning for "Garfield" the fat cat whose image rapidly appeared in many major newspapers across the country and continues to do so.
Mothers of Fairmount's three famous sons were given special recognition during Museum Days in 1985. They were Betty Davis, Jim's mother; Charlene Jones, mother of Phil Jones, CBS National Correspondent with "48 Hours"; and Ortense Winslow, the aunt that raised James Dean, Movie Star. Jim's father, James Davis; Phil Jones, son of Charlene Jones; and Joan Peacock, daughter of Ortense Winslow, were present for the honored recognition. Robert C. Sheets, anohter of Fairmount's famous sons had not reached his peak as Director of the National Hurricane Center, for his mother Miriam, to be honored at the time.
Jim is also a member of the National Cartoonists Society and Newspaper Comics Council.
At age 20, "Garfield" is as lazy as ever. "The lazier he gets, the busier I get," says Jim Davis of Americas - make that the world's - favorite cat.
Jim and his wife are the parents of one son, James Alexander Davis born June 3, 1979. The family home is on the property where PAWS, Inc. is located.
Something new for "Garfield" - a 535-acre theme park, just west of Indianapolis, will be based on the popular cartoon cat "Garfield", developer said Wednesday, February 8, 1996.
The $120 milion park will be located in rural Hendricks County and will employ about 1,400 people. Attractions will include thrill rides, water activities and a golf course. "Garfield" would say, "It's about time" a park was named after him.
Fairmount's native, Jim Davis, The Museum staff says - "Long live 'Garfield' the fat cat!"