'Garfield's Pet Force' #1 (Boom! Studios, 2013).

Gary Barker is a U.S. comic artist and illustrator, best known for his longtime association with 'Garfield' creator Jim Davis. He has also worked on comic books for Dark Horse and Marvel Comics. He should not be confused with British political cartoonist Gary Barker.

Early life and career
Barker was born in 1957. From a young age, he enjoyed reading and drawing comics. His favorite series was 'Superman', and he ranks Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Milton Caniff, Jim Davis, Charles M. Schulz, Tom Gill, Irwin Hasen and Will Eisner among his graphic influences. In 1977, while at college, Barker found a job at Serigraphics as designer/illustrator of concert and promotional poster art. Until 1983 he was active as an instructor at the Arts and Crafts Center at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Marion County, Indiana. In 1982 Barker began appearing as a caricaturist at local events in Indianapolis. To make himself more noticed he dressed up in a superhero costume and nicknamed himself 'Captain Cartoon'. His eccentric appearance caught the attention of the local press.


'Garfield: In The Rough', illustrated by Gary Barker.

Garfield
Through his media appearances, Barker met Tom Huge, the voice of Jon Arbuckle in the animated TV specials based on Jim Davis' comic 'Garfield. Huge and his wife arranged an interview with Davis for him, and the two men struck a professional friendship. In 1983 Barker became Davis' assistant on the daily 'Garfield' strip, as well as the official merchandising art. He works out the pencil sketches by Davis and Brett Koth. A few decades later Dan Davis became second penciller.

Barker also drew the comic book based on the animated TV special 'Garfield in the Rough' (Random House, 1984), and he participated in the production of the special 'Garfield: His 9 Lives' (Ballantine Books, 1984). Barker is also the co-developer as the characters from 'Garfield's Pet Force' (Scholastic, 1998-1999), a children's book series featuring the comic's main animal characters as comic book superheroes on the planet Polyester. Between 2012 and 2015 Gary Barker and the writers Mark Evanier and Scott Nickel created 'Garfield' and 'Pet Force' stories on a monthly basis for comic books by Boom! Studios. In 2007 Barker, Jim Davis and Dan Davis teamed up with writer Ryan North to create some special 'Galactus' gags for Marvel's 'Unbeatable Squirrel Girl' #26 (8 November 2007).


'Gateway to Hell' (Dark Horse Presents #23).

Comic books
In the late 1980s Barker also began to contribute to other comic books, at first at Dark Horse Comics. He and writer John Arcudi had a short story called 'Gateway to Hell' published in 'Dark Horse Presents' #23 (October 1988). He then drew the fifth issue in Dark Horse's sci-fi series 'The Mark' (1988), as well as the two-issue comic book series based by Robert E. Howard's 'Kings of the Night' novel, written by Roy Thomas and inked by John Nyberg in 1989. Barker also designed covers for Marvel, and did some interiors for 'The Incredible Hulk' (issue #389 and the 1992 annual). He additionally drew a short story for Aaron Warren's 'Adventures of Aaron' #100 at Image Comics (1997), and later collaborated on small press mini-comics like 'Fascists and Dead Heroes' (2002) and 'Hero Bijou'.

Later years
In 2003 Barker began working for Jim Davis on a freelance base. He moved to Florida where he became a teacher in the Illustration department of the Ringling College of Art and Design the next year.


The Incredible Hulk #389.

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