'ALF' first aired in the States from the fall of 1986, quickly followed in the UK from April 1987. Concerning the arrival on Earth, or more accurately the suburban garage roof of the Tanner family, of a short hairy alien called Gordon Schumway, 'ALF' (which stood for 'Alien Life Form') was one of the hit comedies of its time, running to four seasons.
'ALF' himself appeared like a muppet, operated and voiced by his creator and co-producer Paul Fusco (assisted by puppeteers Lisa Buckley and Bob Fappiano), although all publicity at the time insisted the character was a REAL alien, so all interviews were done as 'himself'. At times when ALF needed to be seen walking or running in the show, a full body suit was worn by dwarf actor Michu Meszaros.
The Tanner family consisted of father Willie (Max Wright), whose amateur radio ham signal ALF had followed to Earth, wife Kate (Anne Schedeen), teen daughter Lynn (Andrea Elson) and young son Brian (Benji Gregory). Rounding out the household was cat Lucky, who ALF often had an eye on to making into lunch, or dinner, or breakfast, or just any convenient meal. The Tanners had neighbours in the Ochmoneks, Trevor (John LaMotta) and nosy Raquel (Liz Sheridan), suspicious at something hidden by the family but never having proof. One suspects that the likenesses of the Ochmoneks - frequently name-checked in the strip but never seen - were not available, as one story has the similar (but rights skirting) Mrs Bronski playing the part of nosy neighbour instead.
By the time the strip version of 'ALF' appeared in 'Look-In', the series had nearly concluded its second season in the US, and had been on British TV for a year. A poll published in 'Look-In' as the strip started marked 'ALF' as the favourite TV star, over Michael J. Fox and Cannon & Ball, so it has to be considered the series was possibly headhunted, which might explain its surprising brevity if heavy costs were involved in obtaining the rights.
Unusually, despite being a very short run of 13 self-contained instalments, it was split in two, with British alien 'Gilbert' from kids’ show 'Get Fresh' filling the gap between issues 16 and 30. Also unusual for a comedy strip, 'ALF' was colour, with pop sensation '5 Star' and Saturday morning show '73' (or '7T3' as it became) having the prime strip places, with even the long running 'The A-Team' relegated to black and white by now. As main writer Angus Allan had now withdrawn from 'Look-In', the scriptwriter remains unknown but artist Harry North drew 'ALF' in a less detailed and more sketchy way from his previous strips, in what would appear to be his last major work for the title.
(Article by Shaqui Le Vesconte)