Cathy

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Cathy
Cathy wedding.jpg
Cathy and Irving after being married. Electra and Vivian, their dogs, are also in the picture.
Author(s) Cathy Guisewite
Current status / schedule Concluded
Launch date November 22, 1976
End date October 3, 2010[1]
Syndicate(s) Universal Press Syndicate
Genre(s) Humor, women, family

Cathy is a comic strip drawn by Cathy Guisewite. It features a woman who struggles through the "four basic guilt groups" of life — food, love, family, and work. The strip gently pokes fun at the lives and foibles of modern women. Cathy's characteristics and issues both made fun of and sometimes fed into negative stereotypes about women. The strip debuted on November 22, 1976, and at its peak appeared in over 1,400 newspapers. The strips have been collected into more than 20 books. Three television specials were also created. Guisewite received the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award in 1992 for the strip.[2]

Initially, the strip was based largely on Guisewite's own life as a single woman. "The syndicate felt it would make the strip more relatable if the character's name and my name were the same," Guisewite said in an interview.[3] "They felt it would make it a more personal strip, and it would help people to know it was a real woman who was going through these things. I hated the idea of calling it 'Cathy.'" However, Guisewite had Cathy's longtime boyfriend Irving propose marriage on Valentine's Day 2004. The two characters married in the February 5, 2005 strip.[4] That same year, Cathy appeared in the 75th anniversary party of Blondie and Dagwood.

On August 11, 2010, Cathy Guisewite announced the decision to end the run of Cathy.[1] On October 3, 2010, the final strip ran, with the revelation that Cathy is pregnant with a girl.[5]

Main characters[edit]

  • Cathy Andrews Hillman — the protagonist of the strip and the only one not shown with a nose (although a small one was occasionally seen in side views). Cathy is also the only character that does not have beady eyes; instead, hers are drawn in an inverted heart-shape.
  • Andrea — initially Cathy's ultra-feminist foil and best friend, Andrea's role was reduced in the later years. Andrea is married to Luke, whom she met during an on-line chat, and has two teens, Zenith and Gus (who grew from infants to uninhibited teens (not seen in the strips), illustrating – especially Zenith – that the characters do age, albeit very slowly). She is seen as being obsessed with motherhood, to the point of eating special diets while pregnant and playing music on headphones into her pregnant womb to ensure her baby was born with a high IQ.
  • Electra — Cathy's dog – rescued from the animal shelter as a puppy.
  • Vivian — Irving's dog – also a rescued dog from the shelter. Both Cathy and Irving said that the dogs rescued them.
  • Anne Andrews — Cathy's mother. Just as likely to provide frustration as inspiration. Refused to throw anything out, even online. Was highly marriage obsessed and was constantly either asking Cathy when she was getting married or trying to fix her up.
  • Bill Andrews — Cathy's father. More often than not, a helpless bystander to Cathy's mom. Cathy went to him when she needed advice about work, something Cathy's mom (even though she had created jobs – M.O.Ms, Mothers on the Move, or Granny Nannies, the daycare center in Flo's house) said she knows little about.
  • Charlene (née) McGuire — one of Cathy's best friends, receptionist at her office. Charlene's role expanded greatly once Andrea got married. Charlene announced her pregnancy on Sunday, May 20, 2007.[6]
  • Simon — Charlene's husband. He and Cathy dated ten times before she decided that he wasn't for her. But (at first) Cathy was adamant that Charlene should have adhered to the "woman's rules" one of which is to never date a woman's old boyfriend.
  • Irving Hillman — former on-again-off-again love interest, golf and electronics addict and her husband as of February 5, 2005. The more complex the machinery, the better he liked it – even if he didn't understand how to set it up.
  • Mr. Earl Pinkley — Cathy's boss, who often managed to make what little control he actually had of his work environment, go a very long way. At one point, he sexually harassed Cathy by coming on to her in her apartment. Cathy solved the problem by telling Charlene what really happened and the gossip about her boss "spending the night" (he forgot to mention it was due to the fact that he was knocked out when Cathy punched him in the nose for trying to come on to her).
  • Mrs Hillman— Irving's mother who treated him like a "king." Did everything in her power to aggravate Cathy, especially regarding the 2007 Hillman family reunion.
  • Mr. Hillman— Irving's father. He seemed content to let his wife do all the talking.
  • Mabel represented multiple people (she was usually seen as the salesperson at any given store). She seemed to work at every single store, bank, travel agency etc. that Cathy went to and always had a pencil in her hair. She was easily aggravated by Cathy and vice versa. She sometimes had a co-worker with her. In at least one strip, the co-worker was referred to as Edith.
  • Emerson was one of the first boyfriends introduced (Irving was first) when the strip debuted. He pursued Cathy who figured she could do better and irritated Irving. He was eventually dropped in favor of Irving, but is often mentioned in Cathy's list of those she dated.
  • Many, many men that Cathy dated briefly

Animated specials[edit]

Three animated specials were made from the strip: Cathy, Cathy's Last Resort and Cathy's Valentine.[7] All aired on CBS, and the former won Guisewite an Emmy Award.[8]

The four basic guilt groups[edit]

Cathy's love of food is featured in an ice cream stand at Islands of Adventure Theme park in Florida

Defined by Cathy Guisewite, the four basic guilt groups are four types of temptation that the character Cathy faces in her daily life.

Food[edit]

Cathy had a love/hate affair with food (especially carbs). She loved it, but hated what it did to her thighs. She was often shown in a department store fitting room trying to stuff herself into a bathing suit. She was constantly on a diet, weighed herself obsessively and many mornings feared to get up, believing that she had ballooned overnight. Cathy was particularly fond of chocolate, pizza, and her mother's cooking.

Love[edit]

Cathy had dated extensively, but was unable to find "Mr. Right". Although a number of love interests had come and gone over the years, none had come back like Irving, who had left her initially due to her dislike of cats. Later in the series, they finally marry.

At the end of the comic series, Irving and Cathy find out that they are expecting a child.

Mom[edit]

Although well-meaning, Mom's advice often frustrated Cathy, whether or not Mom was right. Cathy and her mother were from two different generations, of course. Cathy grew up in the era of feminism, women's rights and the sexual revolution. Mom was from the earlier, more conservative World War II, 1950s era. Although an equal in her marriage to Cathy's Dad, Mom held many old-fashioned ideas. Prior to Cathy's marriage, she seemed to have an obsession with seeing Cathy married, right down to keeping a current copy of Bride magazine in her purse and going as far as trying to send Christmas cards to some of Cathy's ex-boyfriends, one of which was incarcerated for swindling investors, until Cathy stopped her.

Work[edit]

Cathy had to juggle many tasks at Product Testing, Inc. Her boss, Mr. Pinkley, often asked the impossible, and Cathy always seems to pull through in the end and give him and the client exactly what they wanted, albeit with quite a bit of drama. Cathy also worked at Jamba Juice. She was fired for bringing home smoothies for her cats.

Books[edit]

Following are books featuring Cathy, illustrated by Ms. Guisewite. The chronological strips and special collections lists are believed to be complete; the other sections are not.

Note: capitalization appears according to the copyright page of the book.

Chronological strips[edit]

The following books are collections of strips in the order they were published.

Special collections[edit]

The following books include strips already published in earlier books.

Gift books[edit]

The following books are smaller than the works above. They may have a short storyline and are intended as gifts.

Hardback[edit]

Paperback[edit]

Paperback gift books.

  • How to Get Rich, Fall in Love, Lose Weight, and Solve All Your Problems by Saying "No" (1983, ISBN 0-8362-1986-4)
  • Eat Your Way to a Better Relationship (1983, ISBN 0-8362-1987-2)

Other books[edit]

The following books feature Cathy illustrations by Guisewite, but are not authored by her.

  • Dancing Through Life in a Pair of Broken Heels, written by Mickey Guisewite, Cathy Guisewite's sister (April 1994, ISBN 0-553-37377-3)
  • Lifestyles of the Trim & Healthy, written by Matthew Bennett (June 1994, ISBN 0-9629502-9-7)
  • Girl Food written by Barbara Albright & Cathy Guisewite (1997, ISBN 0-8362-3173-2)

Parody[edit]

On the series 30 Rock, Cathy has been referenced more than once. On the episode "Don Geiss, America and Hope", Liz Lemon's boyfriend Wesley compares her obsession with food to being like "a Cathy cartoon that just won't end". In another episode, Liz exclaims "Chocolate, chocolate, Aack!", which had been exclaimed by Cathy herself in an earlier cartoon.

On the comedy series Saturday Night Live, Cathy has been played twice by cast member Andy Samberg. In one sketch, Justin Timberlake played her husband.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]