Goodbye, Cathy, and Good Riddance (for Some)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cathy Guisewite announced on Wednesday that she’ll be ending her “Cathy” comic strip on October 3. The creator described her decision to kill off Cathy (the character), who is often pictured pulling her auburn hair out or counting the number of calories in food on her plate, as an “excruciating” one.

What was excruciating for some readers, however, was the perpetuation of a stereotype in the Cathy comic strip that all women could be reduced to their battles against singledom and weight gain. What some hail as the end of a 34-year era might also be considered a victory for womankind.

Guisewite's comic strip, syndicated by Universal UClick, first launched in 1976 with this three-panel strip. At its height, “Cathy” was printed in 1,400 newspapers. (It now appears in about 700.)

The long-running success of “Cathy” does show that women across the country relate to the lead character’s addiction to chocolate and fear of swimsuit season. That the comic strip is a semi-autobiographical account of Guisewite’s own life — the author and the character share the same name and hairstyle — may suggest that the foundation of the comic's humor is rooted in truth. The creator’s decision to end the strip was spurred in part by her desire to spend more time with her 18-year-old daughter.

The themes in Cathy are admittedly timeless, and Jezebel has a slideshow of five strips that “predicted the downfall of human civilization” back in 1996. “Cathy” also received the pop culture stamp of approval by Saturday Night Live, with Andy Samberg’s awkwardly hilarious Cathy impression. Even Justin Timberlake got in on the action in the sketch by playing Cathy’s husband, Irving.

So, after more than three decades, it’s time to take down the “Cathy” clips pinned to the bulletin board by a well-meaning coworker. Here's a recommendation for the resulting empty space: Tape up a politically savvy, totally work-inappropriate "Boondocks" strip instead.


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Comments [4]


Well, I liked Cathy and only have good wishes for for its creator. Just because all women don't identify with it all the time, doesn't make it a bad strip. Because most women can identify with it some of the time, it was a successful strip. By exaggerating things that are in the back of our minds, Cathy made a connection. That's something that comic creators always hope to accomplish. Thank you and good luck to Cathy Guisewite!

Boondocks is not a comic that connects to me at all. I can't identify with it and I find the characters abrasive. I hope that one ends soon.

Aug. 14 2010 01:34 PM
Pitt Cairn from NY

I read almost all the comics, and I never read Cathy for the same reason I never read Garfield - waaayyy too predictable. But then, they both have run for more than 30 years, so somebody must like them.

Aug. 14 2010 09:30 AM
lala from orlando

they should put the boondocks back it was funny and teaches you something also but no america is afraid to know the truth about so called great country

Aug. 13 2010 11:10 PM
Tim B from Omaha

Good bye you hack! Or, should I say "hAACK!" Your comic has never been funny.

Aug. 13 2010 06:11 PM

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