Fact Check

Was Andrew Garfield's Grandfather the Creator of Garfield Comics?

And was it based on Andrew’s childhood cat named Lasagna?

Published Jun 24, 2023

 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Nostalgivault/Garfield/Archive.org)
Image Via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Nostalgivault/Garfield/Archive.org
Claim:
Andrew Garfield’s grandfather created Garfield comics, and Andrew’s childhood cat "Lasagna" was the inspiration for the cartoon's main character.

Andrew Garfield the actor, and Garfield the cat are often connected to one another through online jokes and rumor mongers. One particular tweet went viral on June 19, 2023, claiming the actor's grandfather was the creator of the cartoon.

"I was today years old when I found out Andrew Garfield's grandfather is the man who created the Garfield comic and it was based on Andrew's childhood cat named Lasagna," wrote @MediumSizeMeech.

This claim was false. Garfield the cat was created by cartoonist Jim Davis in 1978. According to a 2018 Guardian profile of Davis, he named the cat after James Garfield Davis, his grandfather, and the fictional character was a composite of many stray cats he encountered on his childhood farm.

Neither Andrew Garfield nor a so-called cat named "Lasagna" had anything to do with the creation of the Garfield comics. Furthermore, there's no evidence of the actor having a cat with that name.

Before creating Garfield, Davis was an assistant cartoonist working on an unsuccessful comic strip about a bug, Gnorm Gnat. "Newspaper syndicates were getting tens of thousands of submissions from hopeful cartoonists a year and taking one or two. The odds were heavily against me," Davis told The Guardian. An editor told him, "Your gags are great, but bugs – nobody can relate to bugs."

Davis then rethought his approach: "I took a long hard look at the comics. I saw dogs doing well. But no cats. I thought, 'Huh!'"

While a so-called cat named "Lasagna" wasn't the inspiration for Garfield's love for the pasta dish, the characteristic's true backstory is this: According to the official Nickelodeon Twitter account for the character, Garfield was born in an Italian restaurant. Davis also based the fictional cat's lasagna love off of his own, saying in a 2014 interview with HuffPost: "Yeah, I love lasagne. I thought it would be funny to have a cat who likes lasagne but as it turns out, I hear from people all the time that their cats love lasagne."

On June 19, 2022, the same Twitter account for the Garfield character shared several facts about the cartoon, including the inspiration for his name: "Garfield was named after creator Jim Davis's grandfather, James A. Garfield Davis, who was named after President Garfield."

Was Davis connected to Andrew Garfield in any way? No evidence showed a familial relationship between the two. The actor's last name came from his paternal grandfather, Samuel Garfinkel, who was Polish Jewish, according to a number of interviews with the actor in The Guardian and The Irish Times. 

Furthermore, the claim doesn't align with an accurate recount of events — that is, when Garfield the cartoon was created and the actor was born. Andrew Garfield was born in 1983, according to his IMDb page and a GQ interview, while the comic was introduced five years earlier.

The actor has fielded questions about the cat. In a 2021 interview, as part of Wired's video series in which celebrities answer "the web's most searched questions" about themselves, he was asked, "Does Andrew Garfield like lasagna?" 

He joked, "I get the reference. And I don't appreciate it. No, I love Garfield. I used to love reading Garfield comics. And I do love lasagna. But it's not related to the cat."

The question came up at the 4:07 mark in this video:

The Twitter account that authored the viral tweet about the two Garfields, @MediumSizeMeech, appeared to be joking about the whole thing, writing of the comic's creator, "People are saying 'it was Jim Davis' as if relatives can't have different last names???? His wife's maiden name was Garfield, duh."

However, considering the timeline of both Garfields' births, Davis' retelling of how he developed the cartoon in a 2018 article by The Guardian, the facts shared by Garfield's official Twitter account, and the actor's lack of acknowledging his alleged familial connection to the cartoon (if it had existed) in an answer to a question about the cat, we rated this claim "False." 

Though Andrew Garfield the actor has no familial relation to Garfield the cat, the actor confirmed they do have this in common: a love for lasagna. 

Sources

"Andrew Garfield." IMDb, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1940449/bio/. Accessed 22 June 2023.

"Andrew Garfield Answers the Web's Most Searched Questions." WIRED. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zwNZJbM-Gw. Accessed 22 June 2023.

"Andrew Garfield: 'I Am a Mongrel. I Feel English and I Don't.'" The Irish Times, https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/andrew-garfield-i-am-a-mongrel-i-feel-english-and-i-don-t-1.3267004. Accessed 22 June 2023.

"Andrew Garfield: 'I Got to Treat No Way Home like a Short Film about Spider-Man with My Buddies.'" British GQ, 15 Nov. 2022, https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/men-of-the-year/article/andrew-garfield-interview-2022. Accessed 22 June 2023.

Flood, Alison. "Garfield's Creator, 40 Years on: 'I'm Still Trying to Get It Right.'" The Guardian, 19 June 2018. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/19/garfield-jim-davis-40-years. Accessed 22 June 2023.

"Jim Davis Explains Why Garfield Loves Lasagna and Hates Mondays and Why People Love Garfield." HuffPost, 3 Nov. 2014, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jim-davis-explains-why-ga_b_6094892. Accessed 22 June 2023.

Rafanelli, Stephanie. "Andrew Garfield: 'I Never Compromised Who I Was.'" The Guardian, 30 Dec. 2016. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/30/andrew-garfield-never-compromised-who-was-spider-man. Accessed 22 June 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.