Jim Davis, creator of 'Garfield' comic strip, to teach at Ball State in fall

<p>Jim Davis, cartoonist of Garfield, will be an adjunct professor for the art department starting the Fall 2016 semester. Davis is a 1967 alumnus of Ball State.&nbsp;<em>DN FILE PHOTO CURTIS SILVEY</em></p>

Jim Davis, cartoonist of Garfield, will be an adjunct professor for the art department starting the Fall 2016 semester. Davis is a 1967 alumnus of Ball State. DN FILE PHOTO CURTIS SILVEY

Jim Davis, cartoonist of the popular comic strip "Garfield," will be coming to teach at Ball State starting the Fall 2016 semester.

Davis will be an adjunct professor in the art department for the "foreseeable future," said Arne Flaten, director of the School of Art.

"I get sort of giddy thinking about this because there are so many ways in which this relationship really could have an enormous impact on our students and on our program," Flaten said.

Davis won't start off teaching a specific class, Flaten said. It will be more of a series of workshops, lectures, hands-on demonstrations, focus groups and master classes — some of which will be open to the public, some only available to drawing or animation students.

"It’s really exciting and it’s something that allows us to play to [Davis'] strengths and his very, very busy schedule," Flaten said.

When Flaten started at the university in July, he had known ahead of time that Davis was an alumnus of Ball State and lived in Marion, Ind., a short commute from campus.

Because he is a fan of Davis and had taught courses for a long time on the history of comic art, he drove out with the dean of the art department to go meet him. They hit it off, and started emailing each other fairly regularly.

And then it just made sense to bring him onto the staff as an adjunct faculty member.

"If you're having this conversation about illustration, and the university is having a larger conversation about entrepreneurship and you’ve got this amazing resource 15 minutes away, it’s like, why hasn’t anybody already been talking to you about teaching here as an adjunct?" Flaten said.

Along with bringing valuable experience and knowledge to students, Flaten said Davis also brings some star power to the faculty for the school of art.

"Here’s this person who, regardless of his own personal financial success, he also just has traveled the world and influenced so many people with this character he created," Flaten said. "It’s like having Elvis 10 minutes away. There’s this cult following to 'Garfield' stuff worldwide. He’s such an absolutely cool, down-to-earth, welcoming, gracious person. I can’t imagine anybody better to work with."

Jim Davis was not available to speak with the Daily News due to family issues.

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