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U.S. Acres

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U.S.Acres

U.S. Acres (known as Orson's Farm outside the United States, and Orson's Place in Canada) was a comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1989 created by Jim Davis. It acted as a sister series to his more popular creation, Garfield. When the strip was launched, Jim Davis expected it to become a fast success, but unpopularity and criticism forced it to end after 4 years in 1989. The comic was launched on 3 March 1986 in a then-unprecedented 505 newspapers by United Feature Syndicate. At the peak of the comic's popularity, there were children's books, plush animals (particularly of the characters Booker, Sheldon, and Orson), and posters of the main characters. It was even included as a backup segment in the animated TV show Garfield and Friends (which, interestingly, ran longer than the strip itself and is even referenced in one of the final strips).

Plot

The strip was centered on a group of barnyard animals, with the main character being Orson, a small pig (the runt of the litter) who had been taken from his mother shortly after being born. The early days of the strip showed Orson's life on his old farm with his loving mother and mean older brothers. Eventually, due to Orson being a runt, the farm's owner wanted to dispose of him, so he put him in the back of his pick-up truck and drove off. However, due to a bumpy road, Orson fell off the truck and ended up in the woods where he was found by a young farm girl. She convinced her father to let him stay at their farm and Orson found himself living in "the funniest farm in the world," as some merchandise says. As he got settled, he met the rest of the farm's inhabitants and the series went on from there.

According to the book Garfield's Christmas Tales, U.S. Acres is right next door to the Arbuckle family farm.

Characters

Orson Pig = A bibliophile whose work ethic makes him the functional leader. In 1986, Orson had long eyelashes(because he was a piglet) until they disappeared on January 2, 1988, and was usually addressed as "Mom" by Booker and Sheldon. He tends to avoid conflicts. Orson sometimes becomes a costumed superhero named Power Pig, which more often than not causes his friends or adversaries to fall down laughing at him. Orson loves books, but is very influenced by them, by sometimes doing what's in the book. Sometimes when Orson reads a book, particularly a scary one, the stuff he reads about usually appears behind him and scares the others away.

Roy Rooster = A loud, greedy rooster who endlessly enjoys practical jokes. Except for a few instances, he is tolerated because his job (waking up everyone and 'tending' to chickens) is important, although he does his best to avoid labor whenever possible. He has a special delight in tormenting the easy target of Wade and Orson.

Booker = A chick named by Orson for the pig's love of books (being glad Orson didn't like kumquats). Booker and Sheldon were still eggs when Orson found them abandoned and decided to hatch them. Booker is extremely adventurous, outspoken, and (over) confident despite his size. He often chases worms, but can never seem to catch them. In the comic, he often called Orson "Mom."

Sheldon = Booker's twin brother, who decides not to hatch. Unlike Booker, he is quiet, thoughtful, and introverted. He sometimes sits upon a mound of dirt/grassy knoll (his "Sanctum Sanctorum"), and muses upon life. He is bothered by his height, and tries desperately to appear taller. A recurring gag is the portrayal of his shell as the perfect living space within, without ever showing it. In one episode of the show, the shell finally hatched, only to reveal another shell underneath.

Wade Duck = The "cowardly craven duck" of the farm. His good nature is sometimes shadowed by his overwhelming hypochondria pantophobia. Wade is always seen wearing a kiddie pool flotation inner tube, which (as part of a continuous running gag) shares the same facial expressions - even down to the direction Wade is looking in.

Lanolin Sheep = Usually shown as a hard worker, but with a personality the polar opposite of her brother, Bo: loud and disagreeable. Her name is that of the grease produced by wool-bearing animals, such as sheep. She was much more abrasive in the comic strip than in the television series. She revealed that she has wider arms and fingers than Roy during a fight, and was the only one who could put Roy in his place.

Bo Sheep = Lanolin's brother. In the comics, he was depicted as being highly unintelligent. However, in the TV series, he was portrayed as a stereotypical surfer and shown as not particularly bright, but always cool, collected, and dependable.

Cody = A dog who took pleasure in chasing the barnyard's animals and trying to maul them. He was eventually removed from the strip towards its end without any explanation and never made an appearance in Garfield and Friends. His final appearance was on September 13, 1988.

Blue = A blue cat who was friends with Cody and kept him in line. Like Cody, she disappeared from the strip without explanation and she never appeared or mentioned in Garfield and Friends. Her final appearance was March 28, 1988.

Style

Its style of humor tended to be based in slapstick and sight gags as well as dialogue based humor, and seemed to take inspiration from creations such as Looney Tunes. It also utilized self-aware humor and fourth-wall breaking, though this was more prevalent in its Garfield and Friends incarnation. Before that, the segments focused on teaching kids social lessons and morals.

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