Archive for the ‘Sylvia’ 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.


Sylvia (12/23/09)

December 23, 2009

I’m no fan of the Zodiac, believing as I do that no one’s personality is dictated by something as arbitrary as the day they were born. In my experience, factors like family and community have a bigger influence on people than the month and date they happened to emerge from the womb. But my skepticism hasn’t stopped me from appreciating the personality descriptions that accompany each astrological sign. The profile of the Capricorn Cat in today’s Sylvia, for example, is pretty vivid. And while I’m sure it doesn’t describe everyone born during the early days of winter, it does bring to light a distinct and recognizable personality type.

Sylvia (11/10/09)

November 10, 2009

11-10-09 (Sylvia)

I’ve only been stuck on a tarmac once in my life, although I haven’t flown enough to claim that as any kind of significant feat. The flight in question was a late afternoon jaunt from Las Vegas to Chicago, and my cabin-mates and I were stuck for two hours waiting for crew members to complete some type of repair work. To make matters worse, the in-flight movie was Cheaper by the Dozen 2, which I remember vividly for its sheer awfulness. I would have been better off reading a copy of the book Fear, which the woman in this strip is clutching intently as she huddles in the first row.

Sylvia (9/9/08)

September 9, 2008

At the risk of jinxing my good fortune, I’ve never had a bad experience with airport security. I know it’s fashionable to complain about long lines, but I’ve always found the wait to be relatively tame, even at Chicago’s Midway airport. Still, I have to admire the thoroughness of the fantasy description in today’s Sylvia. It’s obviously a product of the type of frequent, negative airport experieinces that I can only be happy I haven’t endured myself.