Subreddit Surfing: /r/imsorryjon

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eldritch horror drawing of garfield and jon by the reddit user fine-line.
illo by reddit user /Fine-line

Reddit is the internet incarnate. An ocean of content with strange creatures lurking its murky depths and tons of garbage on top. It is both the best and worst of humanity, all available under one domain. As I wade through these treacherous waters, I’ll share the best gems you won’t find in /r/all.

Most of the subreddits I subscribe to have fairly straightforward premises. They are discussion pages for specific interests like herpetology or podcast networks. Plant and random object identification subs are popular too, showcasing the awesome scope of the internet’s knowledge.

/r/imsorryjon is a little more complicated than that. Its history mirrors the natural way that memes go viral, like a snowball growing larger. Reddit posts featuring creepy Garfield art got so popular they finally warranted their own home. The subreddit was created as a gathering place for all the horrific takes on Jim Davis’s signature creation. Less than a year old, it currently boasts over 600,000 members.

The artistic interpretation of a snarky lasagna-loving feline into an otherworldly horror figure is not totally new, but it has recently transcended mere memes into some next level creativity.

The sub is popular enough at this point that its spawned a spin-off (the catch-all for cartoon horror /r/imsorryeveryone) and features non-Garfield Lovecraftian horror on the weekends. The talent and wide range of mediums on display are what initially drew me in. As I keep checking back and saving posts to share with my boyfriend, I wonder what it is about Garfield and horror that sparks so much relative genius.

In 2019, we are certainly a culture that embraces mash-ups. The more unexpected the combination, the wilder the outcomes. Placing existing art in new contexts has given us another level of meta commentary. /r/imsorryjon captures that lightning in a bottle: an inoffensive newspaper comic is the perfect subject to explore in a horror context because it is so normal.

A mildly snarky cat that hates dogs, Mondays and spiders seems like the last character that would secretly house unspeakable horror, which is what makes the work so creepy and fun to explore. Everyone knows Garfield. Touching something familiar and lightly nostalgic with darkness hits the part of the brain where we feel safe and rattles it. Garfield is objectively a Safe comic. We can indulge in this fantasy and leave it completely behind when we’ve had enough.

Even those who aren’t horror fans have to admire the way Creepy Garfield has exploded across Reddit and the internet at large. As pop culture mashes up every possible permutation of media for our consumption, /r/imsorryjon stands out for its ability to spark the imagination and remind us how brilliant art can be.

The otherworldly nature of this creepy trend also lends itself to art that is more than just pen on paper. What started with multi-panel comics has filtered into nearly every artistic medium: cosplaying at cons and IRL, tattoos, 3D renders and animation, lasagna, even TI-84 graphing calculators and computer programs. Don’t get me wrong though, the traditional art on display continues to blow my mind daily.

We may be in the short zenith of the sub, where creativity flourishes and original content is at an all-time high. As it grows there is the possibility (like many subreddits before it) the sub will become overrun with people re-posting old art for karma and not much else. So for now, we should enjoy this gift Reddit has bestowed upon us. Turn off your lights. Garfield requires lasagna. And your soul.

Please enjoy some of my other favorites: