Jim Davis and School of Art Dean Arne Flaten walk through Paws, Inc., in Albany, Indiana.

“Garfield” creator Jim Davis is bringing his cartooning experience into the classroom this academic year as he begins teaching in the Ball State School of Art.

The 1967 graduate, who created one of the world’s most beloved comic strips, said returning to his alma mater is about more than imparting knowledge.

“I’m working with an analog cat in a digital age. For me, this is an opportunity to share my experiences with Ball State students, but selfishly, to learn from them as well,” said Davis, whose studio, Paws, Inc., is in Albany, a short drive from Muncie.

Arne Flaten, director of the School of Art, is a longtime Davis fan who’s taught a course about the history of comic art through the years. “When I met Jim, things clicked. We had lots to talk about, and he realized I was a serious student of the genre. He’s such a generous and affable person, you’d never suspect he’s among the most famous and successful artists worldwide in the field.”

Davis will teach two master workshops: drawing as a cartoonist, plus storytelling and the sequential narrative. He also will present two public lectures: “The History and Development of Garfield” in the fall and “The Business of Garfield” in the spring. Those dates and times are pending.

Flaten said he expects Davis to have a “real impact on the skills and aspirations of our students.

“I think he loves the idea of playing a role in inspiring and educating the next generation of artists, illustrators, animators and humorists. Maybe somebody in one of his audiences here will be the next Jim Davis. That’s a pretty powerful notion.”

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