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U.S. Acres logo featuring the strip's main character Orson the pig
|Current status / schedule||Currently in reruns as a webcomic|
|Launch date||March 3, 1986|
|End date||Original print run ended April 14, 1989. Reruns began appearing on Garfield.com on October 1, 2010.|
|Alternate name(s)||Orson's Place (Canada)
Orson's Farm (other countries)
|Syndicate(s)||United Features Syndicate|
|Preceded by||Garfield (1978–present)|
U.S. Acres (known as Orson's Farm outside the United States and as Orson's Place in Canada) is a comic strip that originally ran from 1986 to 1989, created by Jim Davis, author of the popular comic strip Garfield.
U.S. Acres was launched on March 3, 1986 in a then-unprecedented 505 newspapers by United Feature Syndicate. For most of the last year of the strip's existence, Brett Koth, who had been assisting Davis on Garfield at that time, was given co-creator's credit in the strip, and signed his name to the strips along with Davis. The strip was centered on a group of barnyard animals, with the main character being Orson, a small pig who had been taken from his mother shortly after being born.
At the peak of the comic's popularity, there were children's books, plush animals (particularly of the characters Roy, Booker, Sheldon, and Orson), and posters of the main characters. Its animated adaptation was included in the TV show Garfield and Friends, and continued to be so for several years after the strip ended.
While popular, it was not well received in the industry, with many cartoonists openly criticizing it as "plotless". The final daily strip was printed on April 15, 1989, while the final Sunday appeared on May 7, 1989. Most papers only ran the Sunday strip, usually in the same page as Garfield.
The strip was relaunched as an online webcomic on October 1, 2010 the date going back to March 3, 2010. The relaunch was announced the day before in a question and answer column in USA Today. Later, in celebration of U.S. Acres's twenty-fourth anniversary, the strips prior to August 1, 1986 were released on Garfield.com.
The comic strip can be viewed at GoComics as of March 3, 2012, which is the 26th anniversary of its original debut. On August 7, 2016, a Garfield comic strip showed the US Acres gang (except for Bo) in its logo box, featuring Garfield eating a bag of feed.
Comic strip collections
Five comic strip collections were published, by Topper Books of New York City.
- Davis, Jim (1987). U.S. Acres Goes Half Hog!. Topper Books. ISBN 0-345-34392-1. (1986-03-03 through 1986-10-04)
- Davis, Jim (1987). U.S. Acres Counts its Chickens. Topper Books. ISBN 0-345-34881-8. (1986-10-05 through (1987-05-09)
- Davis, Jim (1988). U.S. Acres Rules the Roost. Topper Books. ISBN 0-88687-341-X. (1987-05-10 through 1987-12-13)
- Davis, Jim (1989). U.S. Acres Runs Amuck. Topper Books. ISBN 0-88687-437-8. (1987-12-14 through 1988-07-17)
- Davis, Jim (1989). U.S. Acres Hams it Up. Topper Books. ISBN 0-88687-469-6. (1988-07-18 through 1989-02-18)
Also, at least six comic strip collections were published by Berkley Books of New York City. However, some of these books are missing months of the strip and / or have strips out of order.
- Davis, Jim (1989). U.S. Acres: I Wasn't Hatched Yesterday. Berkley Books.
- Davis, Jim (1989). U.S. Acres: It's a Pig's Life. Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-11833-9. (1986-05-24 through 1987-08-16)
- Davis, Jim (1989). U.S. Acres: Hold that Duck!. Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-11877-0. (1986-08-18 through 1986-11-03)
- Davis, Jim (1990). U.S. Acres: Rise and Shine!. Berkley Books.
- Davis, Jim (1990). U.S. Acres: Try Counting Sheep. Berkley Books.
- Davis, Jim (1990). U.S. Acres: Take This Rooster, Please!. Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-12007-4. (1987-04-14 through 1987-05-09, 1987-12-14 through 1988-02-08)
The final two months of U.S. Acres were not published as part of an American collection. The last U.S. Acres collection was published in England as a mass-market paperback, titled Orson's Farm Cuts the Corn. The collection, which has since gone out of print along with the rest of the U.S. Acres books, contains fifty-nine of the final sixty strips (one Sunday strip was not printed) and is the rarest of any U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm collection.
- Davis, Jim. Story written by Jim Kraft, illustrated by Paws, Inc. (1988). U.S. Acres: The Great Christmas Contest. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-05807-X.
- Kraft, Jim. Illustrated by Paws, Inc. (1989). U.S. Acres: Let's Play Ball. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34627-X.
- Kraft, Jim. Designed and Illustrated by Brett Koth, Betsy Brackett, Thomas Howard, Dwight Ferris, and Dan Hasket (1989). U.S. Acres: Sir Orson to the Rescue. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34765-9.
- Kraft, Jim. Designed and Illustrated by Brett Koth, Betsy Brackett, Thomas Howard, Dwight Ferris, and Dan Hasket (1989). U.S. Acres: Beware! Rooster at Work. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34766-7.
- Kraft, Jim, designed and illustrated by Betsy Brackett, Larry Fentz, Dwight Ferris, Dan Haskett and Brett Koth. (1989). U.S. Acres: The Big Camp-Out. Bantam Books.
- Wade Dives In
- Kraft, Jim, illustrated by Paws, Inc. (1989). A Most Special Easter Egg. Bantam Books.
- Kraft, Jim. Designed by Brett Koth. Illustrated by Brett Koth, Dwight Ferris, and Thomas Howard. (1990). U.S. Acres: Booker Meets the Easter Bunny. ISBN 0-553-34831-0.
- Wade's Haunted Halloween (from 1990)
- Happy Birthday, Sheldon
The primary traits of the cartoon's main characters were established during the run of the comic strip, even down to such visual gags as the head on Wade's inner tube having the same facial expression as Wade.
Orson Pig (voiced by Gregg Berger): A bossy naive pig whose work ethic makes him the functional leader. His good humor being tested is one of the common gags in the cartoons. In 1986, Orson had long eyelashes (to represent him as a young piglet) until they disappeared on January 3, 1988 , and Booker and Sheldon called him Mom (though it was inconsistent because at other times they just call him Orson). Being the runt of his litter, Orson's original owner intended to get rid of him. Orson fell from the pick-up taking him away from his birthplace and moved to the farm known as U.S. Acres. and was later found by a farm girl who persuaded Orson to follow her to her father's farm.
Orson's alter-ego is 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 (voiced by Thom Huge): The strip's main antagonist, although he is more of an irritant than an actual bully or true antagonist. Roy is a loud, greedy rooster who endlessly enjoys practical jokes. With few exceptions he is tolerated because his job of waking up everyone and 'tending' to the chickens is important, but he does his best to avoid labor whenever possible. In the cartoon, he is more well-liked by the others and is often the one to defeat the series antagonists such as Orson's brothers. In spite of his lazy nature, Roy has proven to be a very capable protector of the chickens, coolly outsmarting and defeating the predators, such as the Weasel and the Fox, that try to kidnap them with a series of practical jokes and gags. He has a special delight in tormenting Wade as an easy target. He's allergic to flowers, a fact that was first established in a strip published on July 2, 1986.
Wade Duck (voiced by Howard Morris): Wade is the "cowardly craven duck" of the farm. His good nature is sometimes shadowed by his overwhelming hypochondria and 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.
Booker (voiced by Frank Welker): A chick named by Orson for the pig's love of books. Booker and Sheldon were still eggs when Orson found them abandoned and decided to hatch them. Booker is extremely adventurous 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 (voiced by Frank Welker): Booker's twin brother, who decides not to hatch. He became very philosophical and introspective over the course of the strip, and began musing on his "Sanctum Sanctorum" (a small mound of grass). A recurring gag is to portray his shell as the perfect living space within, without ever showing it. In one episode, the shell finally hatched, only to reveal another shell underneath.
Bo Sheep (also voiced by Frank Welker): Lanolin's brother. In the comics, he was depicted as being unintelligent and perky. However, in the TV series, he was a surfer and shown as not particularly bright, but always cool, collected, dependable, and a great cook.
Lanolin Sheep (voiced by Julie Payne): Usually shown as a hard worker, but with a personality the polar opposite of her brother: loud and disagreeable. Her name is that of the grease produced by wool-bearing animals, such as sheep. In the comic strip, she was much more abrasive 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.
- Filbert (voiced by Howard Morris): A worm Booker often chases, but with no success. He lives in a hole with his wife Estelle and their son Willy. He appeared in the animated series, but his name was never revealed on the show.
- 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.
- Mort, Gort, & Wart (voiced by Frank Welker, Thom Huge, and Howard Morris, respectively): Orson's three larger, meaner brothers who played a much bigger role in the cartoon than they ever did in the comic strip, where they were unnamed. They stopped appearing in the strip after Orson was taken away from his mother, but began appearing as tormentors to Orson as well as frequent burglars of the farm's crops in the animated series.
- Max the Skateboarding Bird: An eccentric, flightless bird that first appeared as a mysterious creature in a wall that Wade spoke to on October 13, 1986. Jim Davis solicited ideas from readers (specifically children) as to what they thought the creature might be. On March 3, 1987, Davis revealed his pick in the strip. Max did not appear again following the week.
- Weasel (voiced by Gregg Berger): A television-exclusive character who often tries to kidnap the chickens so that he can eat them, but is usually stopped by Roy. The only other regularly recurring antagonist (even though he never appeared in the strip), he occasionally attempts to catch and eat Sheldon as well.
- The Bull: A mean bull that lives in the barnyard.
- Worms: Random worms that Booker chases.
- Aloysius: Orson's pushy cousin.
- 'Garfield' creator Jim Davis answers your questions!
- Davis, Jim. "How It All Began". Jim Davis. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
- "August 12, 1988 U.S. Acres strip". Retrieved August 12, 2014.
- "September 30, 1988 U.S. Acres strip". Retrieved September 30, 2014.