'Heathcliff' Animated Feature (And More) In The Works

HeathcliffEven though George Gately's "Heathcliff" comic strip beat Jim Davis' "Garfield" to the comics page by nearly five years, the scoundrel never caught on quite as well as that other fat orange cat. However, if rights holders FitzRoy Media and partners Magic Lantern Entertainment have their way, Heathcliff could soon catch up on his appearances in animation and live-action film.

FitzRoy and Magic Lantern have partnered to produce all kinds of Heathcliff material, but their mission seems focused on reintroducing the property through animation before releasing a live-action followup film starring computer generated characters in the vein of "Garfield: The Movie."

"He's not your typical cuddly kitty cat. He's a really cynical, wisecracking character who has a contemporary perspective we could do a lot with," Magic Lantern president Jeff Segal told Variety regarding Heathcliff's multimedia potential.

A potential animated feature would mark the first time "Heathcliff" has seen screens in more than two decades. The "Heathcliff" comic strip, which is currently drawn by Gately's nephew Peter Gallagher, debuted in 1973 and inspired two animated series in the early '80s, both of which featured the voice talents of Mel Blanc. An animated feature entitled "Heathcliff: The Movie" followed in 1985, but consisted of seven reused stories from the second cartoon series rather than original content.

It hasn't been revealed yet whether or not Heathcliff will retain his comic strip silence or adapt his animated Blanc mannerisms in future film projects, but based on Hollywood trends, it's probably safe to assume Heathcliff will have plenty to say come release time.

How about it Heathcliff fans? Ready for a new film starring the pointy-toothed prankster? Share your Heathcliff and company memories in the comments.