Beginning with Garfield #33, shipping in January, BOOM! is launching a four-issue Garfield event! “Garfield: His 9 Lives”, is a tribute to creator Jim Davis’ same-named event from 30 years ago.
In “His 9 Lives,” Garfield is profiled in short stories that depict each of his previous eight lives in different eras. This event will be written by Scott Nickel and feature off-model depictions of Garfield by illustrators like David DeGrand, Kari Smith, Frazer Irving, Roger Langridge and Brittney Williams. The first issue will feature the stories “Cave Cat” (prehistoric era) and “King Cat” (ancient Egypt).
And check out the art Garfield #33 (Cover A is by Andy Hirsch, Cover B is by Kari Smith), plus a King Cat sketch by Kari Smith (King Cat appears in #33), Roger Langridge’s sketch of Pirate Cat (#34), Yehudi Mercado’s sketch of Cowboy Cat for #34, Brittney Williams’ cast of characters for Super Cat (#35), Andy Hirsch’s sketch of Sam Spayed (#35), and Genevieve FT’s sketch of Space Cat from #36.
Also we are showing you EXCLUSIVE first-look pages of Scott’s Nermal story from this week’s Garfield #32!
Josh Green for Comics Bulletin: Before we talk about your Nermal story from this week’s Garfield #32, you are taking the reins of Garfield for the next four issues with your interpretation of “Garfield: His 9 Lives”. How daunting was it to take an assignment based on such a legendary storyline that was based on both a comic strip series and TV special?
Scott Nickel: Following in Jim Davis’ footsteps was definitely a challenge. Jim’s original “Nine Lives” is a classic and offered really inventive interpretations of the fat cat. Luckily Jim seems pleased with the new versions. (Always good to keep the boss happy.)
CB: How much are you going to stay true to what Jim Davis did in the original versions? Will your story have any shocking deviations, considering the artistic talent that will be working on each particular tale?
Nickel: We’ve kept several of the original Nine Lives: Cave Cat, King Cat, Sam Spayed (a favorite!), Lab Cat, and Space Cat. We’ve added new lives that seem to work well in the comic-book format: Pirate Cat, Cowboy Cat, and Super-Cat. Working with this talented roster of artists has really been the best part. Their creative contributions really helped the stories come alive. As for deviations, I did tweak “Space Cat” a little, giving the story a fun “Star Wars” meets “Guardians of the Galaxy” feel.
CB: You’ve got quite the group of artistic talent such as Roger Langridge and Frazer Irving. You have any stage fright working with these legends?
Nickel: It’s been a genuine pleasure working with these titanic talents—and a big thrill. I’ve teamed up with several of the artists before, and they always bring their “A” game to Garfield. Everyone’s done an exemplary job on this series. I hope they had as much fun as I did. Luckily, I was working so fast getting the scripts ready that I didn’t have time to worry about stage fright.
CB: Talk about the general story of “Garfield: His 9 Lives” for readers who may not be familiar with it?
Nickel: “Garfield’s Nine Lives” looks at each of the fat cat’s incarnations and takes him from the Stone Age to the stars. David DeGrand draws Garfield’s first life, “Cave Cat” and Kari Smith takes on Ancient Egyptian Garfield in “King Cat.” Roger Langridge illustrates “Pirate Cat,” with Yehudi Mercado on “Cowboy Cat.” Brittney Williams handles art chores on the Golden Age “Super-Cat,” and Andy Hirsch offers up a film noir-inspired take on “Sam Spayed” (an eye-popping change from his usual classic Garfield style). Frazier Irving works his magic on “Lab Cat,” and Genevieve FT finishes the arc in style with “Space Cat.” Garfield’s eighth life is his current incarnation, and he introduces each story with a special one-page bumper.
CB: Are there any other classic Garfield stories that you want to take on?
Nickel: I’d love to see “Garfield the Barbarian”!
CB: Now, let’s discuss your story from this week’s Garfield #32! Your story focuses on Nermal. How do you find the character unique compared to Garfield?
Nickel: Nermal is a great counterpart to Garfield. He’s the cute and positive yang to Garfield lazy and grouchy yin.
CB: Nermal’s certainly got a lot of attitude. He even chastises the narrator! But even though you wrote the story, there is a surprise guest narrator? Isn’t there?
Nickel: Yes, there’s a fun twist at the end which fans of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons should enjoy. Someone is definitely messing with Nermal.
CB: Nermal doesn’t seem to be too pleased with the story that’s being told. Is there anything that can placate that darn cat?
Nickel: Nermal takes a lot of abuse from Garfield (the fat cat routinely mails him to Abu Dhabi), but Nermal (who not-so-humbly calls himself the World’s Cutest Kitten) always seems to bounce back. He can take what Garfield dishes out and dish back.
CB: What’s the story that ends up being told, despite Nermal’s objects?
Nickel: We do a fun variation of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” with Nermal as the title character. Along the way, Nermal meets not only bears, but robots, toxic-waste bunnies, ninjas and the big bad wolf!
CB: Whadaya say? A Nermal ongoing series? Would you be up for it?
Nickel: I’m up for it, but I’m not sure if a certain orange tabby would like it. He doesn’t like to share the spotlight—or his lasagna!