In the 1960s many magazine cartoonists had hopes of becoming the next Mort Walker, Hank Ketcham, or Johnny Hart. Possibly reaching Charles M. Schulz status? George Gately (né George Gately Gallagher) was one such hopeful, though his first effort to rule the newspaper funny pages didn’t hit the heights.
But then he created Heathcliff.
above: the first (September 3, 1973) and second (September 4, 1973) Heathcliff panels
The self-assured, always-in-control orange tabby made his debut on September 3, 1973 and Gately had his hit.
Heathcliff was THE comic pages cat in hundreds of newspapers (before a Garfield-come-lately deposed him): a Sunday strip was added in 1975 (December 28, 1975?), his panel was published in dozens of mass market paperbacks and other books, he starred on television, and in his own comic book series.
By the 1990s Gately’s cartoonist brother John Gallagher is helping draw the feature.
Then in 1998, after some training, the aging and ailing brothers turn Heathcliff over to their nephew Peter Gallagher (who began signing the panel “Gallagher” in 2004).