We Need To Talk About Heathcliff

We Need To Talk About Heathcliff

By Brian Sweeney

Heathcliff is often thought of as a low-rent Garfield rip-off, even though, as we all know, Heathcliff premiered in 1973, while Garfield didn’t premiere until five years later in 1978. But, there is something going on in Heathcliff comic strips that is not found anywhere else in comic strips. For to look at a Heathcliff comic strip is to stare into the mouth of madness. 

I know that you are saying, “Brian, you are very handsome. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I wish I could hang out with you. You seem super cool and I wish we were best friends. If you want to have sex with me or my wife, please do so. It's all we want. Teach us how to reach the heights of orgasmic ecstasy as only you can. You are everything I wish I was. However, I think you’re overstating it. Heathcliff is just a lame comic strip.” 

OK, then. Join me, won’t you, for a few examples of Heathcliff comics. 

I swear that these are all real Heathcliff comics and I did not alter them in any way.


So, this one isn't too odd. Heathcliff has a lot of helmets. His helmets mostly reflect his wants. In this strip, Grandma Nutmeg is serving Thanksgiving dinner and Iggy is pointing out that Heathcliff has once against put on his gravy helmet. I actually really love that Heathcliff has a bunch of helmets for different occasions.


The Nutmegs have invited a vegetarian couple over for dinner. Heathcliff knows this, and has put on his peas helmet. Imagine how cool it would be to be at dinner, and when the food comes out, you put on the corresponding helmet. You would be a modern day hero.


This is where we start getting off into abstract concepts. I think Heathcliff is ready to steal any ham that is ordered by a customer, so the deli guy is warning the customer to not order it. Heathcliff has his ham helmet, and is just sitting there. It's a very bold mood. Heathcliff is intimidating enough to the deli guy that he won't throw him out of the deli. Instead, he is hurting his business by making sure the customers don't order ham. 

Another explanation could be that they are closing soon and Heathcliff is getting all the ham they don't sell, so the deli guy is making sure no more is sold, because he fears Heathcliff's wrath.

This is where you start to see what makes Heathcliff maddening. Very often, there is more than one interpretation for a Heathcliff comic. It's like a Rorschach test. Your interpretation of a Heathcliff comic tells as much about you as it does the comic itself.

ham sweet ham

Grandpa Nutmeg has returned home and it's a very ham-loving home. They even have a HAM flag.

I'll be honest, I would like a Ham helmet.


Heathcliff comics have a thing where someone comments to someone else about what is happening, but it never is what would be the most important and likely question. For instance, in this comic, Heathcliff, a cat, has a long flowing white beard and is seated next to a giant trophy. Iggy says to the neighbor, “Competitive bearding,” as if the obvious big question here is “What did that bearded cat win the trophy in?” 

With these type of Heathcliff comics, I like to start off by adding "I know what you're thinking..."


I don't know what the hell this is, but Heathcliff looks like Grandma Nutmeg is dropping some serious knowledge on him about bees.

Heath bread

So, this one had me puzzled. I didn't know why Heathcliff's sandwich was flying away. I thought maybe since the other guy says, “whole wheat bread” this is a pun and is “HOLY wheat bread,” and those were angel wings. But, I then thought that if it was supposed to be an angel, it would also have a halo. 

This is also an example of a Heathcliff comic where someone comments on something that isn't the most questionable thing. In this case, Heathcliff, a cat, is at a construction site at lunch time and has his own lunchpail. The fact that a sandwich flies away seems to make as much sense as all of that.

Let it be known dear readers, I was able to solve this flying sandwich mystery, but exactly what I found will have to wait for part two...


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