Guess what, everyone? Chinese film studio Legendary now has the rights to make movies and TV shows out of the comic strip character Heathcliff, an orange cat first introduced by George Gately in 1973 and continued today by his nephew Peter Gallagher. Gallagher will work with producer Steve Waterman on developing feature and TV projects around the cat.
The premise of Heathcliff, at least as originally conceived, was that he’s a giant jerk (yet a lovable giant jerk). He stole fish from the store, played pranks on people, and beat up other animals in large dust clouds of mayhem. The neighborhood “tough” dog, Spike, lived in fear of him. He was the closest thing Americans had to the British Dennis the Menace.
Heathcliff has starred in two TV shows produced by DIC…the first, where he was paired with Marmaduke, was largely ignored, but the second, 1984’s Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, was beloved by a generation. On the show, Heathcliff was voiced by Mel Blanc and shared screentime with Riff Raff, a character who lived in a junkyard and did not exist in the comics.
You might be saying “does anybody care about Heathcliff anymore?” and you’d be wrong. I would argue Heathcliff is more popular NOW than he has been in a long time, and it’s all due to the Dada turn his strip has taken under Gallagher. The jokes about beating up dogs have been replaced by the words “MEAT” and “GUM” appearing in random places, Heathcliff palling around with aliens and giants, Heathcliff frozen in midpounce from his backside, and appearances from the Garbage Ape, a gargantuan primate everybody cheers for who’s apparently the city’s sole sanitation worker.
It may not work on a newspaper page, but the Internet eats this meme-like stuff up. Random Heathcliff comics keep showing up on my feed, and the more bizarre they are, the greater exposure they get.
Assuming Legendary makes anything from the Heathcliff license, I doubt it will be as bizarre as the strip is today, but I would bet good money the Garbage Ape will be worked in there. Rumor has it Chris Pratt is gunning for the role.
06 Sep 2021 pic.twitter.com/RcuPjVGB2A
— actual heathcliff comics (@RealHeathcliffs) September 6, 2021