What was the deal with Wade's innertube? Conjoined twin?
June 12, 2007 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Jim Davis' other strip was U.S. Acres, with Orson the Pig, Roy the Rooster, chick and egg Booker and Sheldon, sheep Bo and Lanolyn, and... a dog named Cody and a cat named Blue? Everyone who grew up from that time remembers the long-running Saturday morning show, but no one remembers the strip, which ended a couple of years before the cartoon did and evolved on a different track. Platypus Comix brings us highlights from the strip's surprisingly good, yet neglected, newspaper run.
posted by JHarris (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, I took a had a look at the links and had a sudden 80's cartoon flashback. They were animated for "Garfield and Friends". Wow. Blast from the past.
posted by Mister Cheese at 7:34 PM on June 12, 2007

Argh. Lou Costello is doing pratfalls in his grave.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:39 PM on June 12, 2007

Hunh. Interesting!

And some of these strips aren't too shabby, either.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:39 PM on June 12, 2007

I had one of those books as a kid (I can't remember whether I had in English or Icelandic) and I thought it was pretty funny. For years I couldn't remember the name, and didn't run into anyone else that had read it. Eventually it got overwritten in my memory by Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side. Nice to come across it again. It's pretty good stuff. Hey, remember when Garfield was funny? No? Well... it was... no really... seriously... stop laughing and pointing at me!
posted by Kattullus at 8:13 PM on June 12, 2007

For Jim Davis, "assistant" for the last twenty or so years has meant "the guy who actually draws the strip." Especially since he became so involved with the cartoon series, you can immediately tell when Koth's much more dynamic character designs came into play.

I loved Garfield as a kid but U.S. Acres never really amused me at all. The jokes were even lamer, and we're comparing to Garfield here. At least Garfield has its very, very rare moments of brilliant absurdity ("This isn't a hat! It's a beehive!")

U.S. Acres is noteworthy for only two things: The insanely funny (to me at least) detail of Wade's inner tube, and the use of the cartoon for Garfield and Friends, which remains one of the best-done children's cartoon shows of my generation.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:17 PM on June 12, 2007

Thanks for this, I only knew these characters as being the "and Friends" part of the "Garfield and Friends" animated series.
posted by piratebowling at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2007

Garfieldana post! Huzzah!
posted by cortex at 8:38 PM on June 12, 2007

Wow. I had totally forgotten about this, completely. But this jiggled it back into mind.

posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:41 PM on June 12, 2007

XQUZYPHYR, my opinion of U.S. Acres was the same as yours, until I saw the later strips on the pages I linked. I maintain there are some nice jokes in there.

The same site offers an assortment of lost Bloom County strips, and an excellent page of lost Calvin & Hobbes art. Scroll down on that one for Bill Watterson's illustrated take on the comic strip business....
posted by JHarris at 9:15 PM on June 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Haven't we done all this before, recently? I know both the US Acres stuff and the Bloom County stuff have been linked here not too long ago.
posted by yhbc at 9:23 PM on June 12, 2007

Or maybe it's just my deja vu kicking in again. In that case, any minute now someone will link to that page where Garfield is funnier when Garfield doesn't say anything, and someone else will mention the "explaining Marmaduke" page and link to it as well.

Damn deja vu.
posted by yhbc at 9:26 PM on June 12, 2007

Ah yhbc, I linked to one of the U.S. Acres pages late in one of those prior threads, I had assumed I had gotten there so late that no one had seen it, so I tried a FPP with it.
posted by JHarris at 9:33 PM on June 12, 2007

We see all. We remember all. We are not the cabal, however. There is no cabal.

Carry on. I really just wanted to be sure that I wasn't misremembering seeing these before, recently. US Acres probably does deserve a thread of its own.
posted by yhbc at 9:38 PM on June 12, 2007

I'm pretty sure Berke Breathed will sue you if you mention him in the same thread as Jim D*vis.
posted by RavinDave at 12:08 AM on June 13, 2007

Wade you're afraid of everything made
      of the dark
  of a shark
of a mugger in the park
    Wade you're afraaaaaid


I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from. What I probably meant to say was that Jim Davis deserves to die of rectal cancer.

Carry on then.
posted by dgaicun at 1:08 AM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Known as "Orson's Farm" where I live.

Everybody's down on Jim Davis because he got into the cartoonist business in a fairly cynical way (it's said he studied existing cartoons and noticed the pet+guy formula). The fact he used to work in advertising didn't help his public image.

But to my mind he's one of the few consistently funny cartoonists around. OK, he's passed his peak, and flogged the Garfield franchise for all its worth, but the strips from around 1980-1995 are excellent. You really can't get better. The jokes are good and the drawing is good. The two work together supremely well. A sideways glance from John or Garfield adds to the joke.

Peanuts had hubris. Calvin and Hobbes had sheer creativity. Doonesbury has political satire. Garfield had humor, pure and simple.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:55 AM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

humblepigeon, when I look back over old Garfields I find they do hold up to my childhood memory. There are a lot of great gags. A particular favorite is one Monday strip that was just Garfield sleeping in -all three panels-. The next strip has him asleep, then waking up, then thinking "You know it's Monday when you wake up and it's Tuesday."

But looking back to your summation... Peanuts? Hubris, i.e., arrogant, god-challenging pride? That's like the opposite of Peanuts, how on earth did you come to that conclusion?
posted by JHarris at 3:24 AM on June 13, 2007

Peanuts? Hubris, i.e., arrogant, god-challenging pride?

Heh. Temporary word dyslexia. Replace 'hubris' with 'pathos'. Sometimes words of a similar origin get jumbled up in my head.

My favorite Garfield cartoon was probably the one where they all got rolled-up in a blind. But almost any from the 80s are good. The ones with Irma the waitress were good. The coffee jokes. Monday. Spiders. Fat jokes. Dieting. Nermal.

Davis knew how to create a good character and/or situation, and then use it to spin-out jokes. Like I've said, he's definitely a cynical guy, who the product is good. If you want your cartoons sketched on the back of cereal boxes by a guy in an attic, you should look elsewhere.
posted by humblepigeon at 3:58 AM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

...but the strips from around 1980-1995 are excellent. You really can't get better. The jokes are good and the drawing is good.
You just described the period during which Davis ceased to both write and draw the strip.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:20 AM on June 13, 2007

You just described the period during which Davis ceased to both write and draw the strip.

Well, he created the strip in 1978, so if you're right, he stopped drawing and writing pretty soon after its creation. I don't think you are right. I suspect that the transition happened in the nineties at some point. It will have been inspired if/when his Paws, Inc business got bigger and demanded more of his day-to-day attention.

Wikipedia's entry on Garfield is heavy with [citation needed], but it says the following: "Jim Davis still writes and makes rough sketches for the strip and assistants complete the artwork and brushing."

I should think he's still heavily involved, even if he now has writers and artists onboard. But I think this is fine, to be honest. Like I said, it's absurd to only accept comics if they're written by penniless artists. Davis has done well. Good for him.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:31 AM on June 13, 2007

Wow, that slate piece sure paints him as an ass.

Anyhoo, I had no idea I remembered 'Acres, until Roy the Chicken showed up. Then a flood of childhood cartoon memories flooded up from my subconcious, and I said "Ohhhhh."

That and that wacky innertube. Thanks for the post!
posted by cavalier at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2007

A flood flooded up. Wow. I wish I could delete my own comment! Time for coffee!
posted by cavalier at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2007

Garfield is funnier when Garfield doesn't say anything.

Garfield is the Patrick Ewing of comic characters.

I loved both the strip and the cartoon for U.S. Acres, probably more than I liked Garfield at the time. It was just so lovably bizarre.
posted by drezdn at 6:36 AM on June 13, 2007

I never knew how surreal U.S. Acres got towards the end of its run. Seriously, the sign gags? Brilliantly weird stuff.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:13 AM on June 13, 2007

Interestingly, Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) also tried a new strip that didn't get anywhere. I remember reading that this was based on the same cynical analysis of successful cartoons as employed by Jim Davis.
posted by humblepigeon at 8:59 AM on June 13, 2007

Here is Jim Davis talking to the National Press Club in 2004

IIRC, he comes across pretty well.
posted by mikepop at 11:35 AM on June 13, 2007

Yeah, he sounds like a nice guy. He's a businessman, clearly, but he obviously has an altruistic side. Like I said earlier, I think people find him offensive because they like their cartoonists to be hunched over a drawing board, chewing through a pencil and trying to think up a good joke one minute before deadline. This just isn't the case, at least not with successful cartoonists like Davis or Scott Adams.
posted by humblepigeon at 2:06 PM on June 13, 2007

The bunny rabbits is coming!!!
posted by whatzit at 11:08 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

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