U.S. Acres was a short-lived comic strip created by Jim Davis, far better known for his role as the creator of Garfield, and assisted by Brett Koth. The strip focused on a cast of talking animals who lived together on an unnamed farm:
- Orson, a pig with an overactive imagination and fondness for books
- Roy, a prankster rooster
- Booker, a yellow chick
- Sheldon, a partially-hatched chick
- Wade, a paranoid duck who is afraid of everything
- Lanolin, a really mean sheep
- Bo, her really kind (but not too smart) brother
- Cody and Blue, a puppy and kitten, respectively
The strip, begun in March 1986, was not a success (especially compared to Garfield), and it came to an end just three years and one month later in April 1989. As a result, U.S. Acres and its cast are much better-known in animated form, due to appearing in Garfield and Friends. There, it existed for seven years as the "B" in that series's A-B-A format that's right, the animated version lasted more than twice as long as the strip did!
They also have their own Facebook page.
The characters also appeared in the Android and iOS Garfield's Defense' games to help said title character against food aliens and zombies.
Known as Orson's Farm outside the US and on the Garfield and Friends DVD set, since the versions used are international instead of domestic. The strip is also referenced as such on the "Professor Garfield" children's educational website.
Paws, Inc. has reposted all strips on Garfield's website, here.
The rights to the franchise were sold to Viacom, along with Garfield, in August 2019. Whether or not there are plans to do anything with the U.S. Acres franchise remains to be seen.
Tropes present in the strip:
- 555: This strip contains one.
- Accordion Man: This worm's never been so humiliated.
- ACME Products: The worm family owns products by ACME.
- Adults Are Useless: ...and so are all other humans. The only humans who appear in the strip are a farmer and his daughter, who picks up a young Orson. They are only seen from the waist down, and never appear again afterward.
- All Part of the Show: A worm named Marty invited friends named Waler and Orville to watch a shadow show. when Booker started stomping on Marty, his guests thought it was part of the show.
- ...And 99¢: Roy tricked some of his friends into falling into a waller. When the mud dried rendering them immobile, he tried to sell them as "lawn ornaments" and charged $4.99 for each.
- Androcles' Lion: Parodied. A tree lets Sheldon have its apples because he "once pulled a thorn from its trunk".
- Anti-Sneeze Finger: In this comic, Roy does this to Orson, resulting in himself finishing the sneeze Orson started.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Hog Noon" from the cartoon series, Deputy Wade mentions that Hammerhead Hog is wanted for robbery, rustling, and using the accounts and descriptions of a game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.
- Art Evolution: The art goes from round and cutesy to very loose and frenetic, a radical departure from Garfield either way.
- The U.S. Acres cast remain in their 87-88 designs throughout Garfield and Friends.
- Ascended Extra: Jim Davis's assistant Brett Koth gained a co-writer's credit in the strip's last couple years, even though he did no more work on the strip than he had as assistant on Garfield at that point.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: In one strip, Orson sneezes and later receives a phone call from China. The caller says "Bress you".
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption:Roy: Boy, there's nothing better than a good cup of... HOT chocolate.Orson: (reading from a book) And the big, ugly monster crept up on its unsuspecting prey and said...Roy: Hi thereOrson: Arrrgh!
- Bait-and-Switch Comment:
Orson: Ha! Ha! Booker, you are so naive. See? It says "No deposit, no refund".Booker: Oh, yes...
- During his first day at the barn, Orson comments that, "if this place had a few curtains and a fresh coat of paint... it would still be a dump".
- Orson's reaction when Booker suggests they could take their corncobs to the store and get a refund.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
Bo: Bye, Roy!
- Roy wanted his eyes to be bigger. Too bad for him it was Lanolin who granted that wish.
- Roy encounters Bo while carrying a heavy sack. He then tells Bo to step aside so he get walk by. Bo obliges... except Bo happens to be standing in front of a cliff, and the strip ends with Roy about to walk right off it.
- Booker and Sheldon ask Orson to read them a story, with Booker asking Orson to "make it scary". The problem is that Orson is Mr. Imagination, causing the scary scenes to come to life, prompting Booker (alongside Bo and Wade, who join in for the storytelling session) to shout for Orson to get them out of the scary story. Luckily for them, Orson manages to fulfill their request with "and they all lived happily ever after".
- Bee Afraid: Wade and Roy run away in fear from a Big Stinger Bee.
- Bland-Name Product: Orson is driven off in a "Furd" truck.
- Box-and-Stick Trap: One arc includes Booker's several attempts to catch worms with that kind of trap. One of the strips features a worm using Booker's trap as a bait to capture Booker and Sheldon with a bigger version of the trap.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done in a quickie from the animated series where Orson tries to explain what a quickie is; Booker comes in and thinks that it's about being short, with Roy and Bo joking about doing long or short jokes, with time running out before Orson can finish his explanation:Orson: A quickie is a joke that's only 45 seconds—
Sheldon: Time's up!
[The camera fades out]
Wade: Shucks, I never found out what a quickie was.
- Butt-Monkey: Everyone gets their fair share of being this, but it's Wade and Roy who have it worst and most frequently. You're supposed to feel sorry for Wade getting tortured while you're supposed to laugh at the expense of Roy.
- Camera Obscurer: Wade forgot the lens cover on when he tried to take a picture of the Through Ness Monster.
- Cape Snag: Power Pig's cape is stuck at the phone booth's door.Power Pig: This looks like a job for... (phone booth falls on him) the paramedics.
- Catch-22 Dilemma: This strip shows why Wade will always have claustrophobia.
- Catching Some Z's: Yes, they look like they do in Garfield, and yes, they also play with them sometimes.
- Comically Missing the Point: Orson told Booker and Sheldon the story of the boy who cried wolf and Booker learned the boy... needed a big club to hit the wolf with.
- Also, A worm trying to sell gloves to another worm. When his potential customer got inside home without even speaking to him, he thought she went inside to pick up her handbag.
- Orson believes goalies must be ready to spring at any moment to avoid being hit with the ball.
- What a waste of a perfectly good bucket and water.
- Continuity Snarl: In some strips, Booker is known to enjoy ice cream and chocolate chip cookies but when Sheldon suggested leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, Booker was disgusted.
- Debut Queue: The entire cast was introduced one at a time, starting with Orson, followed by Roy, then Booker and Sheldon, then Wade, then Bo and Lanolin, and finally Cody and Blue.
- Delayed Reaction: Sheldon asked for a lick of Booker's ice cream. It took a few seconds for Booker to realize Sheldon couldn't lick through his shell.
- Also, when a worm impersonated a chopstick to trick Booker, the worm talked to Booker, who called him "Mr. Chopstick" and only later realized how odd it was for a chopstick to talk.
- Denied Food as Punishment: A worm boy named Willy is denied dessert for refusing to eat his dinner. He doesn't consider it too much of a punishment because his parents were having dirt for dinner and a mud pie for dessert.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Lanolin Sheep almost always responds to Roy's pranks with extreme violence.
- Downer Ending: In the final weekday strip Orson looks at the newspaper only to realize their strip wasn't there and he disappears. The Sunday strip offered a more heartwarming farewell.
- Down on the Farm: Played straight. Jim Davis is from just outside of Muncie, Indiana.
- Duck!: Occurs in this strip.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Bo and Lanolin appear to offer a one-liner in a Sunday comic long before their "official" introduction.note
- Eek, a Mouse!!: A worm had this reaction after entering a mouse hole to hide from Booker.
- Exact Words: Booker dared a worm to show his face. The worm then showed a portrait.
- During the ugly face contest arc, Roy told Lanolin she couldn't "make a reeeally ugly face". He forgot to specify whose face was supposed to be made ugly.
- Orson was trying to take Bo's photography and asked him to show his teeth. Bo removed them from his mouth.
- Roy declares that "Water that touches pig lips will never touch" his. Aside from the fact that he doesn't have any lips, he drinks Orson's water through a straw so any lips he could have wouldn't be touched.
- Expressive Accessory: The duck head on Wade's innertube, which looks exactly like his actual face and often mirrors the expression on his actual face.
- False Reassurance: The worm dressed as a chicken to trick Booker and Sheldon told them he knew what he was doing.
- When Lanolin knitted Orson a scarf, Bo was worried Lanolin was pulling a trick on him (Orson). She said she wasn't and then it's revealed the scarf was made of Bo's wool.
- Football Hooligans: Some strips had Association Football as a theme. In this one, Lanolin showed the area where the parking lot would be. She explained that's where that'd hold "the fight after the game". Her face held an expression she was looking forward that monent.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the 1987 Christmas strip, Bo gives one of his trademark circulation-cutting hugs to the entire main cast at once while shouting "Merry Christmas". Orson directs him toward "them out there", and in the final panel, Bo is charging through the fourth wall to give the reader a circulation-cutting hug.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: When Orson read the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears and asked if any of the listeners knew what she did after trying the too hot and the too cold bowls of porridge, Lanolin suggested she sued the bears.
- Fur Is Clothing: One strip has Lanolin remove her fur so she can cool off in a pond on a hot day. Roy attempts stealing it, before she grabs him and drags him into the water. Next panel, Lanolin is wearing Roy's feathers, and he's chasing after her to get them back while wearing her wool.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In one Sunday strip, Orson, Roy and the chicks wanted to teach Wade to swim, and so the cute little farm animals went to Wade and said they'll be with him the whole time, and carry him to the pond and-WHA-uh-doo-Watch where your hands are, Roy!!
- This strip has Roy referring to Orson, Wade, Booker, and Sheldon as "the barnyard boobs".
- Gone Horribly Right: In several early U.S. Acre strips, Orson uses hypnotism on Wade in order to make him not fear anything. It works, and Wade goes from being a Lovable Coward to shortly being a fearless and reckless Jerkass who fears absolutely nothing.
- Grand Finale: Two, actually - one for the dailies and one for the Sundays (there were still four more Sunday strips to go when the last daily strip was published). In the daily finale, Orson looks in the funny pages, sees that U.S. Acres isn't in it, and disappears. In the Sunday finale, Orson, Booker, and Sheldon watch their own cartoon show.
- Gratuitous German: Booker tried to trap a worm by sitting on its hole. The worm used a spiked helmet like those from German soldiers and said "Ach du lieber! A flyink chicken!"
- Hartman Hips: Parodied here when a female worm who only has eyelashes eats a peanut and gains the appearance of having broad shoulders and hips.
- Head Desk: Booker's reaction here when he realises he'd been tricked by a worm.
- Henpecked Husband: A certain worm seems to have this problem. The below are just a couple of examples of his feeling dominated by his wife:
- Here We Go Again!: This strip starts with Booker and Sheldon arguing, with Orson trying to break up the fight by asking what they were arguing about. Booker fails to provide an answer, leading Sheldon to claim that Booker forgot. Booker denies it... and the strip ends with Booker and Sheldon arguing about THAT.
- His Name Is...: Orson is reading a book for Booker and Sheldon. When it's about time to say the murderer's name, he falls asleep.
- Hold the Unsolicited Ingredient: After Booker doesn't believe that worms eat dirt, the readers are shown a worm going to Dirt Burger and ordering "medium rare, hold the gravel".
- Hollywood Voodoo: Booker comes along with a balloon which looks like Roy. When Roy wants to know what this is about, Booker claims it was a voodoo balloon. Roy isn't impressed, so Booker stabs it with a pin, result: Roy's head asplode.
- Hypno Fool: Wade gets hypnotized to calm his fears and Hilarity Ensues when the hypnotism ends up performing a total 180° on his personality.
- Hypocritical Humor: In this strip, Roy tells Booker that the rooster is the king of the barnyard that all other animals respect and fear -- all while they're hidden in a wooden crate.Booker: Is that why we're hiding from Lanolin?Roy: I don't know what you're talking about.
- I Can See My House from Here:
- Idea Bulb:
- I Know You Know I Know:Wade: Who's in there?
Max: You don't know me.
Wade: Are you sure I don't know you?
Max: I don't know.
Wade: You don't know what?
Max: I don't know that you don't know that you know me.
Wade: But how do I know that?!?
- Imagine Spot: Two concerning Sheldon's future.
- I Meant to Do That:
Sheldon: What's Orson doing?Booker: I'd say he's trying to pole vault over the fence but his pole is too flimsy and it will probably break (snap!) and he will crash into the fence (crash!) then he will try to play it down.Orson: I meant to do that!
- Roy hits Sheldon with a snowball and celebrates by banging on the wall, making the roof's snow fall on him. He claims he "meant to do that".
- Orson's attempt to pole vault over a fence.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Instant Cosplay Surprise: Done on Roy here.
- Insult Backfire: Roy Rooster decided it was time for Booker to start rooster training.Roy: Okay, Booker. It's time you started rooster training.
Roy: Because you need to practice if you want to be like me.
Booker: I'd rather drink pond scum!
Roy: Good! You've got the Obnoxious part down!
- I Will Show You X: "I'll good morning you!!"
- Jerkass: Roy and Lanolin, both of whom often tried to one-up the other.
- "Kick Me" Prank:
- Last Request: ''Booker asks if a worm has "any last requests" and the worm suggests "Melancholy Baby".
- Lets See You Do Better:
- Booker showed Sheldon a hand trick and Sheldon said it's an old one. Booker then dared Sheldon to do it and somehow, Booker did see Sheldon doing it despite Sheldon living inside a shell.
- Roy says he can swim better than Orson can. When asked to show it, he says he doesn't want to get his feathers wet so Lanolin takes them away so he can swim without getting them wet.
- Macguffin: The top secret, highly experimental, thermonuclear, exploding Grelbin device which Roy (as Pinfeather in another of Orson's Walter Mitty-esque daydreams) stole in "Double-Oh Orson" from the animated verison, where Orson imagines himself as a secret agent like James Bond.
- Market-Based Title: The strip was known as Orson's Farm outside the U.S.
- Meaningful Name: Orson gave Booker that name because he (Orson) likes to read, making Booker glad Orson didn't like kumquats. Lanolin is named for a type of wax secreted by sheep.
- And Sheldon is called Sheldon because he's just an egg shell with legs.
- Medium Awareness: Orson told Sheldon their days were "not only numbered, but signed and dated" and he lived each moment as if it was his last panel.
- Morton's Fork: Orson asked Booker and Sheldon if they wanted him to read a book or if they wanted to watch TV. They both eagerly replied "Television!" so Orson then got inside a TV and started reading a book inside it.
- Never Say "Die": These worms said "go".
- No Fourth Wall:
- After passing a sign reading "The end is near," Orson smacks into the end of the (truncated) last panel.
- The whole last week and final Sunday comic were about the strip ending in one way or another. This strip◊ addresses the strip's end quite literally.
- Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: A worm dared Booker (a literal chicken, mind you) to cross a line and vanished inside his hole before Booker responded. After Booker crossed the line, the same worm (or another one) showed up from another hole and acted like Booker had yet to decide if he'd accept the challenge or not. Booker was confused.
- Not Hyperbole:
- Because of his allergy to flowers, Roy doesn't like it when Booker brings any to the chicken coop. One time, he said "Don't bring those flowers in here! You want me to sneeze my feathers off?!" Enraged, Booker picks a giant flower and brings it to Roy in retaliation. The sneeze was so strong that both Roy and Booker lost their feathers.
- In one strip, Lanolin threatens to slap Roy's beak to the moon. She literally does that later.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In the strips final week, Wade finally conquers his fear of everything, which causes Orson, Roy, and Booker to run off screaming.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: This worm's chicken disguise.
- Parental Abandonment: While Booker and Sheldon were still unhatched eggs, their mother, having decided she was tired of sitting on eggs, literally just got up and walked away. The eggs remained unguarded in their nest until Orson found them the following week.
- Pay Phone: Orson is inside a phone booth when the phone rings. It's for Bo, who just takes the phone away, dragging the booth and Orson with him.
- Phone Booth:
Orson: All right! Who waxed the phone booth?!Power Pig: This looks like a job for... (phone booth falls on him) the paramedics.
- A chicken opens a phone booth and is horrified to find Orson a.k.a. Power Pig in the middle of putting on his superhero uniform. Orson believes "it was bound to happen someday".
- Once again, Orson tries to change into Power Pig inside a phone booth. This time, he DONKs into the other side of it.
- Wade sees a newspaper ad about a way to cure claustrophobia. Unfortunately, he decides to call from a phone booth.
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: Orson does this while impersonating the Trope Namer doing That's All, Folks! at the last strip.
- Portable Hole: Booker ripped one from the ground so the worm he was chasing would be stuck underground.
- Power-Up Food: Parodied by Orson as Power Pig. He claims to eat "power corn for energy".
- Puff of Logic: In the final daily strip from 15 April 1989, Orson is reading the newspaper and discovers that U.S. Acres is no longer on the comics page. He has just enough time to shout "HEY! WHERE'S-" before he vanishes in a puff of logic.
- Punny Name: U.S. Acres was supposed to be a pun on "U.S.A."
- Pushover Parents: A kid offers to take Orson in and tells him not to worry about the kid's Dad because he's a pushover.Orson: Thank you, pushover fathers everywhere.
Orson: The hours I spent as a homeless waif taught me to live by my wits.
- When it's finally time to convince the girl's father to let Orson live with them, Orson does the trick by crying.
- Rake Take: Wade believed that, if he were fast enough, he could race right by danger before it could do anything to him. A rake proved him wrong.
- Running Gag: The series pretty much runs on them. Sign gags, face gags, scaring Wade, slop jokes, imagination jokes, etc.
- Sarcasm Mode: The Echo Canyon in this strip.Orson: Yodel-lay-hee-hooo.Echo Canyon: Oh, reeeal original, pig.
- The Scream: Wade sees a fake spider and screams so loud, it circles the world.
- The Animated Adaptation is directly addressed in the pentultimate daily strip.
- Binky the Clown makes a cameo in a thought balloon in one strip. Also, Booker had a duck call whistle that sounded "Hey, Duck!"
- "Power Pig! Fast as a speeding bullet! Strong as a locomotive!"
- Sheldon was wondering what an old tree would say if it could talk. A worm pranked him by making it seem it sang "Shooby Dooby Doo".
- Once he realizes his imagination took him to pre-history, Orson says "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore".
- In retaliation for Roy intruding on Orson's "swimming pool", Orson dives on Roy, prompting the intruder to say "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"
- This strip has Orson looking for a book to help himself relax. He remarks that one of the books is too small, and another one is too big, and the third one is just right.
- Shown Their Work: Orson is abandoned at the beginning of the strip's life because he's the runt, just like pigs do in real life.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Booker and Sheldon watch in astonishment as Wade sleeps with his eyes open. Booker asks how he's able to do it, and Sheldon explains that it's easy for Wade because he's afraid of the dark.
- Sneeze of Doom: Occurs here◊.
- Sphere Eyes
- Spit Take: March 22, 1989◊, and again on April 2◊.
- Spy Speak: Bo takes it literally.
- Stock "Yuck!": A worm tries to eat spinach but doesn't like the flavor. The remaining spinach moans over the fact "Nobody likes spinach".
- Stop Drowning and Stand Up: Wade in this comic.
- Talking Animal: Unlike in Garfield, the cast of U.S. Acres actually talks. (This might also be the reason for why Cody and Blue weren't in the cartoon.)
- Tempting Fate:
- Orson said even Lanolin couldn't ruin that day. She shouted "I just washed my car!" and it rained.
- Booker blows on a dandelion seed head, causing the seeds to disperse and fly away. The flower next to it laughs at the seed head, only to be plucked by Orson immediately afterwards.
- Booker asks Orson to make a story scary. Orson being Mr. Imagination, it doesn't take long for Booker to change his mind.
- That's All, Folks!: The last strip◊.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Bo. For example:
- Wade is this as well. He falls off cliffs, when he can just fly to avoid injury. He goes ahead and just sits under a place where a boulder above him could easily fall and squish him. He even places his bed right on the cliff, where he ends up falling from, once he got out of bed.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Booker's is worms, Orson's is pig slop, Roy's is corn and the worms' is dirt. Though Orson and Roy have expressed they'd rather have pizza one time.
- You and What Army?: Orson once used hypnosis to make Wade no longer afraid of anything. The first sign it was working was when Wade responded to a command by asking "You and what army, waller breath"?
- You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses?:
- A worm invoked the trope to avoid a beating from Booker. Booker was initially proud to have shown "chickens do have hearts" but later banged his head on a tree out of frustration once he remembered "worms don't have eyes".
- A worm wondered if a fish would eat a worm with glasses.
- Your Costume Needs Work: Roy once dared Orson to dress like a bear. When a real bear showed up, Roy said it was the worst bear suit he'd ever seen.
- Your Head Asplode: June 9, 1987.
- Your Mom:
- One strip featured Booker plugging a hole and then yelling that the worm's mother was a garden hose. When the worm tried to return to the surface, it hit its head on the cork.
- A later strip had a worm telling Booker his mother swam after garbage scows. Guess what Booker's "Mom", Orson, was ready to do at the end of the strip?
- Feeling bored, Wade told Cody his mother had fleas so Cody would chase him away.
- Orson wondered why Roy considered himself qualified to be the judge of an "ugly face contest". When Roy said he knew ugly when he saw it, Lanolin jokingly mentioned "he should". Roy then asked "what was that about my (Roy's) mother?"
- Roy, over a frozen lake, teasing a fish. "Hey, fish! Your mother wears waders!" Then a strong fish breaks through the ice and drags Roy's face into water. Roy ends the strip with a broken and frozen face.