I'm not sure if there's ever been a newspaper comic as thoroughly deconstructed as Jim Davis' Garfield - it's seen the gloriously dark Garfield Minus Garfield (which saw the comic completely re-positioned as Jon's descent into isolation and madness, with no Garfield to bounce his bizarre personality off of), the perfect melding of comedy and art Lasagna Cat (which was recently resurrected from out of nowhere), and even Dorkly's own Garf (which saw Garfield engaging in a constantly escalating Itchy & Scratchy-esque battle with the personification of his nemesis, Mondays). But now we have a new contender for the darkest Garfield deconstruction - Gramfel, by artist John Cullen (who you can support on Patreon right here!)
Gramfel is as stoic as Garfield is sarcastic - leveling devastating blows of dark, unspoken truths that Jon is incapable of comprehending or dealing with.
...however, Gramfel - like Garfield - has the same appetites, which causes consternation for Jon. However, whereas Jon in the world of Garfield was simply mad his dinner was eaten, Gramfel's Jon sinks into an existential abyss.
Gramfel's Jon also exhibits a painful level of self-awareness - to the degree that he is cognizant of his existence within the constraints of a webcomic.
Gramfel does not cry. For why would he cry about what is inevitable?
The laws of the universe of Gramfel are constantly in flux - nothing is certain, not even existence itself.
Whereas Jim Davis' Garfield bemoans Mondays, Gramfel literally destroys the Earth in a moment of fury when the question of Monday is posed to him.
Gramfel allows Jon no amount of levity to ease his ennui - none at all.
Gramfel is truly Garfield at his bare essence - a cat, a box, and a constant dressing down of his owner. However, the box and the cat are now one, and the dressing down comes in the form of dark existential truths instead of cutting put-downs and insults.
Gramfel is not afraid to turn the tables and reverse the roles - how does Jon fare as the pet and Gramfel as the owner? Well, it is as expected, I guess.
Gramfel questions existence itself - is everything relative? Does all reality depend on perspective? Can anything be objectively viewed when perspective is so essential?
Reminder: THIS IS BASED ON GARFIELD.
I don't know what else is left to say, other than: thank you, Jim Davis. Thank you for creating a comic so incredibly bland yet well-distributed, so that an entire generation would have a deep familiarity with the source material AND a total disdain for its artistic integrity and feel an innate desire to break it down and spoil it forever.
And thank you John Cullen, for the perfectly idiosyncratic darkness of Gramfel (which everyone should be supporting on Patreon, btw)