A long-running Newspaper Comic begun in 1973 by George Gately. He helmed it until his 2001 death, when his nephew, Peter Gallagher (not to be confused with the actor with the same name) took over. The strip's title character is a fat orange cat owned by the Nutmeg family — an elderly woman, her husband, and their grandson Iggy. Not unlike Garfield, Heathcliff is a wisecracking, fat, orange cat who gets into all sorts of mischief.
At least... that's how it started.
In recent years the comic has become so unabashedly bizarre that people often refer to it as one of the weirdest comics on the internet - a label that Gallagher himself considers "high praise". Riddled with Anti-Humor, Dada, and pure surrealist oddity, explaining Heathcliff has become almost impossible. Understanding Heathcliff is like grasping the eternal Tao. There is a "Garbage Ape" that the local cats revere. His existence is never explained. Heathcliff often wears helmets with words on them that underscore a present desire (eg, "Ham", "Gravy", "Meat", "Omega-3's"). This is never explained. The last week in January, 2021, alternated between two punchlines over five days. The deeper you delve into the comic, the odder it gets, and rarely if ever does the reader get an explanation.
The strip is also notable in that it had two cartoons based on it. The first, in 1980, was produced by Ruby-Spears and (in the second season) was paired up with an animated adaptation of Marmaduke. The second and more familiar one, produced by DIC Entertainment, came in 1984, paired with the Catillac Cats. Heathcliff became renowned as one of iconic voice actor Mel Blanc's final original roles, voicing him in both cartoons.
A film adaptation was planned for 2011 but never got off the ground.
For more information on the second cartoon, see Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats.
Tropes present in the strip:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Crazy Shirley is this to Heathcliff.
- Animated Adaptation: Twice.
- The Anticipator: Played for Laughs where a mouse is able to sneak past a sleeping Heathcliff with ease, before getting hit with a rolling pin by his wife who then tells him, "Sneak by Heathcliff, but you won't sneak by me!"
- Berserk Button: In recent comics, Heathcliff becomes upset if he's mistaken for Garfield.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: He beats up dogs for fun to give to the dog catcher.
- Bully Bulldog: Spike. Averted in that he's no match for Heathcliff, in terms of strength and wits.
- Canon Immigrant: The Catillac Cats have made two◊ appearances.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: 1985 to 1991 through Marvel Comics, beating Garfield by 27 years.
- Flat Character: How Heathcliff is portrayed in the comics. The animated adaptations give him a voice and personality.
- Humanlike Animal Aging: Seems to have this, if the second comic linked in the Canon Immigrant entry is anything to go by. The comic in question was posted in 2018 and had Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats reminiscing over "stories about The '80s". However, any cat born that long ago would be long dead by now.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Averted.
- Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Garbage Ape shows up to Heathcliff's delight and knocks over the neighborhood trash cans. He makes regular appearances, with no more explanation than that — in one strip in 2016, he somehow became an AT-AT Walker for no apparent reason. Oh, and he has a sidekick: Trash Chimp.
- Print Long-Runners: 1973 and counting.
- Raised by Grandparents: Iggy Nutmeg lives with his grandparents. We don't know anything of his parents.
- Running Gag: Heathcliff loved to torment the milkman, the garbage man and the owner of the fish market in particular.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: Grandpa Nutmeg is this to Heathcliff. Spike also counts as one.
- The Speechless: This is how the casual reader can tell the difference between Heathcliff and the other guy. Heathcliff understands language but never actually says anything. Notable in that there are talking animals in the strip, e.g. birds and mice. Curiously both cartoons avert this by making Heathcliff even more of a mouthy wise guy than the latter (quips provided by none other than Mel Blanc).
- Sphere Eyes
- Stock Animal Diet: Heathcliff loves eating fish and drinking milk as he does regularly steal both from the fish market and milkman. Zig-Zagged with his fixation on ham.
- Those Two Guys: An awful lot of the comics (which, during weekdays and Saturdays, is a single gag panelnote ) seem to follow the same formula of Heathcliff doing something strange, and two random people (or, in the case of the Garbage Ape strips, birds) in the background explaining what he's doing.
- Troublesome Pet: Heathcliff frequently knocks over trash cans, terrorizes the neighbors, and hogs the family's snacks.
- Unnamed Parents: Or in this case, unnamed grandparents. Iggy's are only known as "Grandma" and "Grandpa".