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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday Morning Funnies - U.S. Acres

Okay, you all must think that I have lost my marbles by making this rather unusual choice.

Matthew, you say.  Today is Sunday!  This is the day that you are supposed to feature a character from a comic strip, or a comic strip itself, or a comic book.

Yes.  Yes, today is Sunday.  And, yes, I am featuring a comic strip in this edition.

But Matthew, I hear you call out.  U.S. Acres is a cartoon that aired on Saturday mornings!  We forgave you for talking about Saved By The Bell on Saturday, but where is the logic behind featuring U.S. Acres as the featured Sunday blog entry? 

Yes.  I'll admit it.  All of that is entirely true.

It's true that U.S. Acres (or Orson's Farm as it was known outside of the United States) did air as a cartoon.  It was a part of the successful Saturday morning cartoon series "Garfield And Friends", which ran from 1988 to 1995.  In fact, U.S. Acres was sandwiched in between two Garfield cartoons, like the white sugary cream found in the middle of an Oreo cookie.

But (and this is where it will all make sense), did you also know that U.S. Acres started off as a comic strip back in the mid-1980's?

Here's the proof.

Mind you, the characters in this comic strip were slightly more crudely drawn than they were in the Garfield and Friends cartoon series.  It was still a comic strip.

Jim Davis had created Garfield back in 1978, and had a lot of success with it.  Hoping that lightning would strike twice, he created the serial "U.S. Acres" in the spring of 1986.  It took place on a farm, and had a whole bunch of different farm animals as guests.  In fact, just because some of you might not remember U.S. Acres at all, here's a little introductory clip from the Garfield and Friends show.

Hopefully that clip might have jogged your memory a little bit.  Then again, it might not.  Either way, there is a method to my madness.

The bottom line is that U.S. Acres trudged along, and was successful enough to have comic book collections and plush animals associated with the comic.  Unfortunately, it didn't prove to have the same winning formula that the Garfield strip had, and the comic was pulled in May of 1989.  The cartoon series still ran though, and as recently as 2010, some websites have begun re-posting the old U.S. Acres comic strips so that a new generation of people can enjoy them.

That's your history lesson for today.

Now that I have the confusion cleared up and proved to all of you that U.S. Acres was a Sunday comic strip, I suppose the next question you have for me is 'Matthew, why did you choose to base your blog on a comic strip that was cancelled 22 years ago that hardly anyone even remembers?'

That's one reason right off the bat.  I want people to remember it.  A lot of kids who watched Garfield and Friends only watched the Garfield cartoons and skipped the U.S. Acres ones, but not me.  I liked it. 

And do you want to know why I liked it so much?

Because I can find a quality in each of the characters that I possess.

U.S. Acres is basically all of my character traits split up into several different farm animals. 

Let's start off with Sheldon, for instance.

Sheldon is supposed to be a newly-hatched chick.  As you can see, he didn't quite make it all the way.  But does that bother him at all?  Not in the slightest.  See, Sheldon was perfectly content to stay in his shell.  He liked it in there.  Astonishingly enough, the comic strip made it out that Sheldon's shell was almost the equivalent of a spacious New York City penthouse, where he could put anything he wanted inside there, which physically speaking was an impossibility.  Nevertheless, Sheldon was in no rush to hatch.  The one occurance in which he did hatch, it was revealled that there was another shell underneath the outer shell!

Still, Sheldon's shell never really got in the way of him living his life.  He got along well with his brother, Booker, and the other animals on the farm.  He was comfortable in his own shell, and he wanted to be the one to make his own mind up as to when he wanted to come out of it.

I'll admit it.  It took me a really long time for me to come out of my shell, so to speak.  Like Sheldon, it took me a while to break out of it.  But in the end, only I was the one who could make that decision.  Of course, unlike Sheldon, I didn't have a back-up shell!

 Or, how about Sheldon's brother, Booker?  Booker was pretty much the opposite of Sheldon.  Whereas Sheldon preferred to hang back in his cozy shell, Booker was more than ready to bust out into the world.  Booker was more of an adventurous type, and his impulsiveness often lead him into trouble.  He'd be so excited about catching worms that he'd accidentally set off his own trap!

I'll admit it.  When I was really young, I was a bit adventurous as well.  I still remember the one time that I was exploring the garden at my grandmother's house and I wasn't really being careful where I was walking because I was so determined to scope out every leaf and flower in that garden.  Ended up kicking over a beehive and nearly getting stung by a whole bunch of bees.  That was definitely a Booker-type mistake.

Roy the rooster was probably the character that I liked the least.  He was incredibly self-centered and got off playing practical jokes on the other animals.  If there were people in this world that I don't really get along with, it would be people like Roy.  I'm not saying that I don't like practical jokes.  I just don't like the mean-spiritedness Roy seems to exhibit.

I do have to admit that the one character trait I exhibit from Roy is his boisterous loud voice.  As a rooster, he has to wake up all the other animals on the farm, so being loud is a quality that would definitely be an asset.  I have been told by lots of people that my voice can be loud and that it carries well.  If ever I decide to take on a career as a motivational speaker, I'd be perfect!

  Then there's Wade, one of Roy's favourite targets.  Wade was a duck that hated water (hence the little floatie he's wearing which eerily has the same facial expression as he does).  He honestly hated everything.  He was afraid of almost everything out there in the world.  His irrational fears often caused a lot of havoc on the farm, and naturally, Roy used Wade's fears to cruelly taunt him.

I'll admit this right here.  Like Wade, I suffered from irrational fears as well.  One of them happened to be loud noises.  I couldn't stand fireworks, firecrackers, even a balloon popping freaked me out.  And, naturally, the meaner kids in my school brought balloons to school to terrorize me during recess.

(Yeah, I went to a school that was FILLED with Roy Roosters.)

For the record, I'm a lot better at dealing with this irrational fear.  I can watch fireworks displays, but I can't bring myself to pop a balloon.  It's about 50/50 in that regard.

Perhaps if I had someone like Lanolin by my side, I would have fared better.  Lanolin was the type of gal who was incredibly outspoken.  She was so loud that she could even take Roy Rooster down a peg or two.  She was also an incredibly hard-worker.

It wasn't really until I hit adulthood that I became to access my inner-Lanolin.  No, I never put a bright blue bow in my hair.  I do have some rather strong opinions that I am not afraid to defend though.  Like Lanolin, I take work very seriously.

Lanolin's twin brother Bo is the polar opposite.  Whereas Lanolin is a hard-worker, Bo is somewhat on the nonchalant side.  Where Lanolin can come across as a shrieking ewe, Bo is as cool as a cucumber.  Lanolin is often the brains of the operation in some aspects, whereas Bo...isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

However, Bo's one trait that I can say that I am as well is the fact that he has shown himself to be a dependable person.  People would rather talk to Bo about their problems than Lanolin because Bo will actually listen.  He may not have the best solution for how to fix it, but at least he would listen.

I may not know how to fix a problem myself, but I will promise to at least listen.

It's now that we finally come to the main character of this crew.

Orson the pig is more of the bookish type.  He likes to read a lot, and this trait has made him the de facto leader in U.S. Acres.  I learned how to read at an early age and would walk to the public library and check out lots of books every week.  It's actually a practice that I should take up again, as I now realize that it has been nine years since I last used my library card.

He's also the type of personality that hates conflict.  I'm the type of personality who hates conflict.

Orson was the runt of the litter in his family.  I'll admit that sometimes in my family, I feel as though my opinions are not heard.  Of course, the plus is that my family never abandoned me, so that's a plus.

How about that?  I managed to take seven distinct personalities and managed to find something about them all that match up with me.  In six of the seven, I even managed to find positive qualities about myself.  The only one that I struggled with in that regard was with Wade, and that's only because I have a hard time breaking out of my comfort zone at times because of my fear.

Kind of like Sheldon!

Wow...I'm better at this than I thought.  :D

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