Sunday, August 15, 2010
The end of an era arrived for me this morning, when I heard, on CBS Sunday Morning, that Cathy Guisewite has announced the end of her comic strip, Cathy. The final strip will run on Oct. 3, after almost 34 years.
I was in high school when Cathy began running in the newspapers in the late 1970s. By the time I got to university, I was hooked. I had Cathy posters on my dorm room walls, a Cathy wall calendar & agenda book, & Cathy mugs (which I still have). My mother & I would trade Cathy clippings, especially those involving Cathy & her mother, whose relationship sometimes eerily mirrored our own.
I spent one summer living with one of my girlfriends, who was juggling several boyfriends at once. In one storyline that summer, Cathy had every man she ever dated show up in her living room at the same time. I would clip the cartoons & leave them on the table for my girlfriend to read, between dates. I remember both of us giggling over a classic Cathy line -- after listening to an unwanted suitor proclaim his undying love, Cathy mourned, "Why do the right words always come out of the wrong mouth??"
Not everyone shares my love of "Cathy." Most guys I knew didn't like it ("Feminist stuff," sniffed a former (male) head of my department, upon seeing my Cathy calendar in my cubicle) & some women don't either, saying Cathy's constant battles with food, bathing suits, etc., were demeaning to women. At the same time, it's undeniable that the strip was groundbreaking for its time, & reflected the tension most women of Guisewite's (& my) generation felt between the feminist ideal & the reality of being female. Which, like it or not, often included (and still includes) struggles with weight, body image, relationships, parents...
One headline I found online read "Cathy Comic Strip Ends - Readers Reminded It Still Existed." Once carried in some 1,400 newspapers, it's now in just 700 or so. (I've actually been having it e-mailed to me every morning for the past several years, & have several printed out & thumbtacked to the walls of my cubicle.)
I can't blame Guisewite for deciding to throw in the towel -- after 34 years, it must be difficult to find something fresh to write & draw about the annual swimsuit shopping expedition (although I still find she manages to come up with some really great observations, & I still find myself sending strips to people -- most recently to my husband, when Cathy & Irving's very different approaches to packing for vacation had me cracking up over the obvious parallels). The strip probably "jumped the shark" when Cathy finally married her longtime on-again-off-again boyfriend, Irving, five years ago.
So how should the strip end? According to some Wall Street Journal readers, with a baby, of course (see the comments section). Apparently Guisewite, who adopted a baby 18 years ago, has said she has wavered over the years on the question of whether Cathy & Irving should have children.
Well, if marrying Irving was seen as a betrayal by some readers who looked to Cathy as an icon of single femaledom, you can imagine how THIS married but childless reader would feel about an ending like THAT. Cathy Guisewite, if you're reading this, please, I beg you -- DON'T DO IT.
But I'll miss you, Cathy, just the same. Thanks for the laughs & the memories, & may all your chocolate be calorie-free.