Archive for the ‘Cathy’ Category

Cathy and Sylvia (8/12/10)

August 12, 2010

It was only yesterday that cartoonist Cathy Guisewite announced plans to retire her comic strip, but I’m already yearning for its replacement. Like many readers, I never much cared for Cathy. More often than not, I found it to be exhausting, which is quite an achievement for a comic strip.

It’s not just that I’m a man or that I couldn’t care less about swimwear. It’s that the aesthetics of Cathy truly irk me. Most strips go something like this: a joke is telegraphed in panel one. Panels two and three overwhelm us with details, few of which are funny. Panel four offers a quaint summation.

And the visuals are uninspiring, to say the least. Crudely drawn characters spewing loads of neurotic text? No, thank you. But that’s not to say Cathy is without its virtues. The strip did last 34 years, no doubt thanks to the tenacity of its creator. And it appealed to a lot of women who weren’t previously represented on the comics page.

It’s also possible that Cathy paved the way for strips like Dilbert and Pearls Before Swine. I’m not much for the writing in Cathy, but the strip’s preference for language over artwork is remarkable and may very well have opened the door for talented writers (who could draw passably) to get into comics.

So how can newspapers replace Cathy? I’d love to see the empty spots go to up-and-coming cartoonists, but newspapers will probably want to cater to those legions of readers who revel in their daily “aack!” If that’s the case, I have a modest proposal. Come fall, replace Cathy with Sylvia.

At first glance, these strips seem to have a lot in common. They’re both written by women, they’ve both been syndicated for decades, they’re both drawn in a jittery style, and they both employ ungodly amounts of text. But Sylvia is no Cathy. It’s main character is confident, unapologetic, playful, and political. She also smokes cigarettes and eats donuts.

I’m sure this strip would rub most Cathy fans the wrong way, but I’d also like to think there are “aack” addicts out there who would enjoy Sylvia. Here’s hoping they’ll get a chance to discover it this fall.

Cathy (4/26/10)

April 26, 2010

My wife and I have been married for a little more than a month and, to date, our mothers have not pressured us to have children. A lot of other people have asked us when we plan to start a family (a reasonable question), but our mothers have managed to stay out of those conversations. That might be because we warned them not to expect grandchildren until we were both in our thirties. And what happens if we miss that deadline? There may be some subtle hints or guilt trips to be had, but I prefer to think that any complaints will be laid out in unmistakable terms, along the lines of today’s Cathy. At least that way, we can confront the issue head-on.

Cathy (10/2/09)

October 2, 2009

10-02-09 (Cathy)

When it comes to visuals, Cathy is usually nothing to write home about. In fact, the strip’s plain drawing style and dense, chatty text can make it a chore to read. That’s why I was so impressed with today’s installment, which features a monstrously mutated Cathy to match her grating and neurotic personality. My discovery that Cathy had not grown tentacles, but was instead standing inside a pair of giant high-heeled boots, did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. It only made me hope for more visual flair in the future. After all, once you draw something like this, it’s hard to go back to the banality of a woman’s hair standing on end.

Cathy (9/30/08)

September 30, 2008

As someone who reads, but never really gets, Cathy, I have to hand it to today’s strip for its many virtues, all of which are atypical. For starters, Cathy’s common sense outweighs her insecurities in the final panel, something that almost never happens. And while the text is plentiful in this strip, it doesn’t overpower the drawing like it usually does. In fact, the image of Cathy bundled in her new scarf is downright expressive, and more comical for its poker-faced silliness than any of the hyper, harried panels that typically dominate the strip. Finally, the punchline is clever and understated, a precious rarity in the “ack”-saturated world of Cathy.