The fat cat seen in this Jim Davis image is sitting pretty at the Rocky.

The Rocky Mountain News gives Garfield a reprieve. Why? Damn it, why?

In "The Rocky Mountain News Throws Garfield in the Litter Box," an October 2 blog, I took great delight in noting that the Rocky had booted the enormously lame strip "Garfield" from its comics pages. The decision marked quite a turn-around from the late '80s, when the paper paid a then-unprecedented sum to steal the feline away from the Denver Post -- after which it celebrated the feat by erecting a Garfield-centric Christmas display on its roof that Post pranksters promptly vandalized.

Well, consider my vibe officially harshed. Today, the paper announced that it's bringing Garfield back less than a month after his departure -- and the description of why many readers missed the strip is every bit as horrifying as the decision itself.

Here are the key sentences:

More than 2,000 readers wrote, e-mailed and called our comics hot line after the strip was dropped. Many Garfield fans told us that in these troubled times, they counted on the comic relief of their longtime favorite strip.

Consider the implications of this excerpt. For me, the state of the world is not improved by reading approximately the ten-thousandth lasagna-is-yummy joke Garfield creator Jim Davis has told in the three decades since his strip's debut -- but a whopping 2,000 people feel otherwise. Quick -- check outside to see if it's raining frogs... because it sounds like we're on the verge of the apocalypse.

Oh yeah: To make room for "Garfield," the Rocky has decided to disappear "Over the Hedge" by Michael Fry and T. Lewis, which is no work of comics genius, but infinitely better than "Garfield." (For other takes on the comics, read the September 2007 Message column "The Funnies Aren't Anymore.") If "Hedge" heads start protesting now, maybe the paper will get rid of something else instead. "Pickles"? "Pluggers"? "Marmaduke"? -- Michael Roberts

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