by Geo Gately.
“The best of Sunday with Heathcliff.”
“America’s craziest cat!”
Yes, it’s time to review a comic strip collection featuring everyone’s favorite orange cat. No, the other one. This book was originally published in 1981 and collects years worth of Heathcliff’s expanded Sunday adventures. The last panel is always “Kitty Korner” in which readers can send in silly tales about their cats. Most are believable but there are a few that are outlandish. I almost wanted to look up some of these people on Facebook and ask for more details. Then I realized I’m asking about a cat from 40 years ago and, well, there’s no way that conversation doesn’t become sad.
There has been lots of debate through the years over implying characters have sex. Never showing the bedroom. Head to toe pajamas. No sexuality at all. I’m not even saying adult themes, but back to TV showing couples in separate beds and then loosing their minds when someone like the Bradys are shown sharing a bed. Thus, I was shocked to see this revelation. Not only has Heathcliff had relations, he’s also a father. Bit of an absentee father though. However, as I’ve seen with most kittens, they’re adopted and scattered across the county and beyond in their new homes.
Most of Heathcliff’s usual supporting cast is here. His owners, the dog catcher, the fish monger, the girlfriend, the bully, the goofy dog, the neighborhood kids. I could absolutely tell you all of their names but you didn’t know any of them before hand and my list reminded you of how they all looked. For fans of the cartoon series, there are no Cadillac Cats here, but there’s more to tell about the cartoon in a future post.
While silly humor about a cat is timeless, I wonder if this one would work with kids today. A mouse could probably fit inside and dance within a flat screen TV. Depth could be difficult. Also a tube could be removed and the frame left behind. Modern TV’s would most likely be taken away as one piece with nothing left behind to act as a rodent’s dance stage.
Sure, it’s seen as a classic and thus tired strip today. But this was loads of fun. Some goofy adventures. A lot of set up for a groaner of a joke at the end. I found myself reading it like a kid and not putting the adult world on top of it. It’s a series about a non talking (in the strip) highly intelligent somewhat anthropomorphic cat. None of this is pretending to be a tear jerker Oprah book club title and to treat it as such is absurd.
I’m new to the world of pet ownership. My now wife had one and thus I now had a cat too. We’ve had some more over our relationship but I’m still learning a lot about their behavior. Recently one of our cats has become this solid concentrated hundred pounds of fur. My wife refers to him as a “chonk”. Yet when he chases the younger cat or if a bug comes in the house he tears though like an animal Olympian. All of this stored energy ready to pounce at a moment. Heathcliff is always drawn a bit round, which is common for a variety of comic strip characters. But I wouldn’t call him fat. Nor would I call my cat fat. Fluffy, round, something like that for sure. But Heathcliff isn’t beating up Spike, stealing fish, outsmarting garbage men, and so much more with an out of shape body.
It’s a shame Heathcliff doesn’t get the love that Garfield receives. More ingrained into popular culture. More movies and TV shows. An advertising boom in the 1980’s. That goofy smile attached to suction cups. And all of that is a damn shame. Because Heathcliff came first and tomorrow I’ll go more in depth.