So, in 1973, a guy by the name of George Gately, created a newspaper comic strip called ‘Heathcliff’ about a fat orange cat, who gets involved in wacky antics with food. It never really caught on, just because it happened to be overshadowed by a comic that came out 3 years later which just so happened to be about a fat orange cat, who gets involved in wacky antics with food. But nonetheless, it still managed to be mildly popular, with two separate cartoons in the 80s with two seasons each, both having the titular character of Heathcliff being voiced by Mel Blanc, alongside multiple illustrated novels, and even a small animated movie.
But why am I telling you all of this? Why do we need to care about an (not knockoff) orange cartoon cat comic which almost nobody’s even heard of nowadays?
Well, that was the ‘Heathcliff’ of old, the watered down ‘Heathcliff’, the version of ‘Heathcliff’ which restricted itself to a comprehensible standard that us mere mortals can understand.
Recently, there’s been an uproar in the internet community, on twitter and other internet boards, talking about how ‘Heathcliff’ lately has been… different. See, in around 2001, the actor Peter Gallagher took over the Heathcliff brand, as he was the nephew of George Gately, and since then, the natural balance of the universe has been upset.
Just for example, take a look at this old Gately era ‘Heathcliff’ from 1993, before Peter Gallagher took over:
Like, looking at it now, this makes sense. Everyone can at least agree that there is a coherent and understandable joke in here. You can look at this and go “OK, this has a setup, a punchline, and a meaning which can be understood by the common person”.
Now, take a look at this comic from after Peter Gallagher took over:
So, lemme break this down for you real quick: so, there’s Heathcliff the cat, playing the bagpipes on the roof of the house, because it is “pizza night”.
What’s that you say? This makes no sense? What do bagpipes have to do with pizza? What’s the joke even?
Well, that’s simple, there is no joke. You could look at this for hours like a magic eye painting, but instead of eventually getting to see a clear image, you just slowly degrade more and more of your sanity.
How about this new classic:
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? WHY’S HE WEARING A HELMET? WHY DOES IT SAY DIRT??
Even the last one you could sorta stretch it and say like “Maybe he’s happy that it’s pizza night, so he plays the bagpipes when he’s happy I guess…?” But there’s legitimately no way you could even pretend to understand what’s going on here.
Gallagher seems to sorta have a thing for helmets, as shown by this next one, where Heathcliff becomes the “life of the party” because he wears a helmet that says “Hey”.
You could maybe explain this by theorizing how on Gallagher’s home planet, helmets give people special abilities depending on what it says, thus giving Heathcliff the confidence to be more talkative at social gatherings.
So, nobody really knows why these are even still being made, people have a couple theories, but there’s no concrete evidence as to if he’s strangely satirizing modern day newspaper comics, forgetting to add punchlines to his jokes, or just messing with people, but one things for sure, it’s fascinating to just try and pretend to understand the meaning of any of these things.
Here’s one with some gripping social commentary:
I could go all day showing off some of the most interesting articles of Heathcliff literature, but I think you get the idea.
Some say Gallagher’s bitter at the fact that another comic about a fat orange cat has had infinitely more success in the industry than his (even though ‘Heathcliff’ was first published about 3 years before the other one), so he’s just taking out his frustrations by dumbfounding the nation with his surreal comic panels.
But ‘Heathcliff’ (at least while under George Gately), had a decent run in its time with all the old merchandise, shows, and movies, but something about the brand under the control of Peter Gallagher, always happens to be sort of…”corrupted”, for lack of a better word.
See, there was going to be a new modern day ‘Heathcliff’ movie, animated fully in 3D back around 2011, but for some reason it was suddenly cancelled. And while we do know that there sadly isn’t that much interest in ‘Heathcliff’ nowadays, and it sorta makes sense that the movie wouldn’t seem worth the budget from a major studio to be fully produced, this movie sorta has a strange post production history behind it.
See, 8 whole years after the promo trailer released (a trailer which is probably one of the most generic animated movie promos of all time), a guy named Michael Dominguez uploaded the only footage of this movie to ever surface outside this promo, probably ever. He posted a video called “Heathcliff Theme [3d] 12 Hours Long” which featured 3 seconds of animation, from said movie, that’s looped for 12 hours straight, while the theme of the original ‘Heathcliff’ cartoon from the 80s plays on repeat for those same 12 hours. Which is… strange to say the least.
Was this the only thing ever finished by the production team? Why is it 12 hours? Why is there a link in the description which leads to what looks like one of the most virus infected websites of all time, with a jpeg of Jesus to the side?
The most (and probably only) consistent thing about modern day ‘Heathcliff’, is the word “Why”. The word which pops up in your head when you look at any modern day piece of Heathcliff media.
Now, has Peter Gallagher just accidentally shifted from another dimension, another dimension in which the entire concept of humor is completely different, and involves a lot of helmets? A dimension in which an animated movie consists of a 3 second loop being played on repeat for 12 hours? Or is this just some strange modern art piece, mocking and satirizing modern society and its regulations of humor?
I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure “The Garbage Ape is what dreams are made of”.