Cathy, the long-running comic strip, is coming to end in early October, as its creator, Cathy Guisewite wants to spend more time with her family. I’ll admit to often skipping this comic as I read the comic page in the Chicago Tribune – it often seemed too whiny and stereotypically feminine with a lot of talk about food, weight, and swimsuits.
But as I read the story about the close of the comic strip, I was reminded that Cathy is still a relative oddity on the comics page. There are still very few comics about female characters or strips drawn by females. While I would read these two strips, “For Better or For Worse” is retired and “Sally Forth” is not terribly popular (and not carried by the Tribune). Broom-Hilda doesn’t cut it (not really any content here) nor does Brenda Starr (a serialized strip that features an attractive star). ”
Cathy at least has a perspective about women that seems more real:
Critics have called “Cathy” anti-feminist, and while Guisewite didn’t reject that claim, she said certain stereotypes about women are the most fun to write about.
“The subjects like weight and style and look are these microcosms of all the extra expectations that are placed on women,” Guisewite said. “As women have become more powerful and stronger, it has become a lot more complicated for women to feel good about themselves. I like to think that ‘Cathy’ is the voice for women who can’t say, ‘I feel stupid about something silly, but it still really ruined my day.'”
Another commentator added:
Said John Glynn, 42, vice president of rights and acquisitions at Universal Uclick: “Cathy really broke a lot of ground in the ’70s. … She was talking about what a real woman goes through and the real-life concerns of women, and that I think was something very different for the comics section.”
So where are the comic strips by women or about women? A Zits-type strip about a teenage girl would have a lot of material to mine. Another comic strip about an adult woman, married or unmarried, could cover a lot of ground. Or are typical comic readers not interested in female leads?