Cathy and co-workers face their most challenging foe. Artist: Cathy Guisewite.

CATHY

Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
First Appeared: 1976
Creator: Cathy Guisewite
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The eponymous protagonist of Cathy Guisewite's award-winning comic strip, Cathy, frets constantly about her weight, her significant other, her overly demanding boss, the fact that she's incompetent …

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… to do ordinary things like balance a checkbook, and all the other things that are of vital importance to a liberated woman like herself.

Cathy started as a haphazard pile of self-satirizing cartoons Guisewite did for her own amusement and that of her family. At her mother's suggestion, she submitted some of them to publishers. It turned out Universal Press Syndicate had been looking for a feature that would address the concerns of working women, so the daily strip began on Nov. 22, 1976. It's now been going for over a quarter of a century, has been been reprinted in dozens of paperback collections, and, in 1992, made Guisewite the second woman (after Lynn Johnston, author of For Better or for Worse) to win the National Cartoonists' Society's prestigious Reuben Award.

And that's not Guisewite's only major award. In 1987, she received an Emmy in the animation category, for the first half-hour prime-time special based on the strip, titled, simply enough, Cathy. It aired on May 15, 1987. Two more have followed — Cathy's Last Resort and Cathy's Valentine. All three aired initially on CBS.

Guisewite makes no secret of the fact that the strip is semi-autobiographical — the problems of Cathy the character are similar to those of Cathy the cartoonist. Apparently, her problems are shared by working women the world over, because the strip now appears in over 1,400 newspapers and is translated into more than a dozen languages. Becoming a married woman (as of Feb. 5, 2005) doesn't seem to have affected her appeal.

Guisewite's art style is not the most polished in the world, nor would anyone call it particularly representational. As Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy the Pinhead, once put it, "It looks like she drops string on the floor and xeroxes it." But evidently, it strikes a responsive chord with readers.

— DDM

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Text ©2000-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Cathy Guisewite.