IMPORTANT HEATHCLIFF NEWS, EVERYBODY! America’s second-favorite orange comic strip cat who’s kind of a dick is matching arch-rival Garfield by securing a CGI/live-action movie deal, and then one-upping the Monday-hating indoor-only layabout by also snagging a 13-episode animated TV series, both from “family-based production company Waterman Entertainment”. The news is on actual film industry insider blog Deadline Hollywood, so you know it’s true! Where “true” means “a Hollywood shell corporation has acquired the intellectual property rights necessary to create the aforementioned entertainment units, but actual filming is dependent on nailing down funding and will happen sometime between five years from now and never.”
There are definitely narrative difficulties in bringing Heathcliff to the big/small screens, and today’s panel offers a good example. No, not the burp joke; the entire 21st century film industry is built on burp and fart jokes. I refer instead to Heathcliff’s mute nature, which combined with his apparent literacy results in him holding up signs and flying flags inscribed with various messages. How will movie and TV viewers deal with a non-talking protagonists? Heathcliff artist Peter Gallagher earnestly told Deadline, “We want our existing fans to identify with the characters they know while introducing him to an entirely new audience. As a creator I know that [Waterman Entertainment] will be attentive to our lasting vision for the brand and welcome our input, which is very important to me,” which pretty clearly means that they won’t change a facet so central to the strip’s history as Heathcliff’s inability to spehahaha I can’t even finish that sentence because obviously they’ll just get some mid-range actor who needs work to do the voice, like they got poor Owen Wilson to do Marmaduke. Who’s going to voice Heathcliff, do you think? Chevy Chase? Chris Tucker? Owen Wilson again, because why not?
(By the way, all this important Heathcliff knowledge was brought to my attention by amazing Minnesotan comedian Brandi B., whose Twitter consistently breaks important Heathcliff news, like this movie/TV deal thing. She also got beloved The O.C. star Peter Gallagher to go on the record as saying that he is not the Peter Gallagher who draws Heathcliff. And she has a Heathcliff blog, of course!)
Oh, whoops, Mary isn’t freaking out because she drank Lena’s coffee; she’s drinking Lena’s coffee because she was already freaked out. I’d complain about the strip just showing us a bunch of people sitting around talking instead of actually depicting the events being described, but, you know, I’m not sure I’d actually want to see a child almost get hit by a car in the comics, so let’s just let it slide.
Apartment 3-G, 1/16/14
Ha ha, it is very romantic, if by “romantic” you mean “a fairly glaring sign that your supposed beloved’s intentions are not what they seem.” Are Tommie and her mom being taken in by a handsome pair of con artists who will win the ladies’ hearts, gain access to their bank accounts, and then vanish into the ether after having spent the bare minimum of time with them? One can only hope!
Family Circus, 1/14/14
Even though the hairstyle/mustache combo marks this out as a probable rerun from the ’70s, I have a hard time remembering ever seeing a gentleman engaged in educating the Family Circus youth before. It does seem to undermine the Natural Gender Order, which is obviously troubling! Still, today we learn why male teachers (or, as I call them, “malechers”) may actually help reach kids in ways that more typical lady-teachers can’t: Billy feels comfortable telling this guy, man-to-man, that he isn’t really very smart.
Let’s ignore the horror of a clearly sapient creature begging his current owner to not callously sell him to some monstrous stranger and instead ask: since Heathcliff clearly has no problem with being this pirate’s sidekick, what’s the parrot’s problem? Perhaps the pirate’s lack of a peg-leg marks him out as a poseur upon whose shoulder no self-respecting parrot would deign to sit.
Mary Worth, 1/14/14
Ken thinks that if he just arranges enough scenarios in which Mary to falls into peril from which she can only be saved by handsome actor Ken Kensington, she’ll eventually have to submit to his advances! But will she instead come to the conclusion that New York is a dangerous death trap? “Hmm, Jeff’s never saved my life … but then again, Jeff’s never had to save my life!” You’re playing a dangerous game, Kensington!
Mark Trail, 1/10/14
You guys. You guys. This is amazing. Before he was defeated in combat by Mark Trail, Jeff buried the precious Indian artifacts he stole outside the cabin, and is now refusing to tell Mark where they’re hidden. They’ll be lost forever, right? Oh, but wait. Remember this completely delightful panel from last month?
Well, guess what: by dropping that jar of homemade syrup into the artifact-basket, Jared inadvertently made this stolen haul irresistible to bears. This is one of the greatest delayed payoffs in Mark Trail history. Soon the artifacts will be back in their rightful place, in the museum Mr. Dunlap intended to donate them to, and only slightly worse for wear for being covered in rancid syrup and torn to bits by the claws of a hungry bear.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 1/10/14
I have been remiss in pointing out that 2014 has brought a new artist to Rex Morgan, M.D. Graham Nolan, who is getting a nice tribute in cereal form here, has handed duties off to Terry Beatty, who succeeded Nolan on the Sunday Phantom a while ago. Check out Beatty’s blog for more on his process — it’s pretty interesting!
The new artist is using his own style without really changing any of the character designs that much. I’m glad, for instance, that Sarah remains weird little gnome-person. I’m pretty in love with her facial expression in panel three here, as it seems appropriate for someone who really wanted to rat out her baby-sitter but eventually agreed not to in exchange for a cookie bribe, but now her mother’s asking her a direct question and you can’t lie to your mother, can you? So she’ll just have to tell on Kelly, even though she already ate the cookies! It’s like Christmas never ended!
Apartment 3-G, 1/10/14
Three cheers for Apartment 3-G for remembering Lu Ann’s tragic artist/drug addict/drug dealer boyfriend Alan, who got shot and killed, over drugs. You may wish to peruse my archive to catch up on the Alan plotline in all its glory, but at minimum you should Never Forget the following high points: Jones the beatnik drug dealer, “Wow. This dope is super — I feel great!”, “This better work. I just spent most of my paycheck on drugs!”, “And, face it, getting high is all I care about”, and “I’ll calm down when I get some drugs!! Please! I hurt so bad!!”.
Mary Worth, 1/10/14
“Still, Santa Royale is such a stuffy, hidebound place. It’s the sort of town where people frown on you just because you use an area rug as a napkin! New York is so liberating, where I can be exactly who I want to be, with no limits!”
Meanwhile, Heathcliff’s demands to be worshiped as a terrible God-King continue unabated.