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Ack!
August 12, 2010 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Ack!

After thirty four years, the comic strip "Cathy" is coming to an end.
posted by mecran01 (126 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now perhaps the healing can begin.
posted by DU at 6:18 AM on August 12, 2010 [37 favorites]


A part of my childhood dies with it. Don't worry, it's one of the parts I didn't like.
posted by Mister_A at 6:21 AM on August 12, 2010 [29 favorites]


...and there was much rejoicing.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:23 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, SOMEbody must have liked the darn thing for it to last 34 years.
posted by JanetLand at 6:24 AM on August 12, 2010


I was really, really hoping this would be about Bill the cat.
posted by Drab_Parts at 6:24 AM on August 12, 2010 [43 favorites]


They're not making new strips but will probably just reprint old ones. So basically you'll never notice.
posted by PenDevil at 6:25 AM on August 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


Well, SOMEbody must have liked the darn thing for it to last 34 years.

The rule of Kim Il-Sung lasted even longer than that.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:28 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


wait, she's been making new ones this whole time?
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:28 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Frame one: Astro Zombie mentions that he has read the Cathy will cease publication.
Frame two: Astro Zombie complains about Cathy's endlessly repetitive structure.
Frame three: Astro Zombie's complaints become frantic.
Frame four: Astro Zombie, now calm, makes a short, pithy, ironic observation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2010 [32 favorites]


I hope Chris Onstad notices.
posted by boo_radley at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


wait, she's been making new ones this whole time?

That was my thought too when I read the article. She mentions the "creativity" of having to meet the deadline and I had to pause to try to imagine what creativity went into churning out the same joke every day. "Let's see, something topical...how about 'I hope the oil leak doesn't make me fat' and then I'll draw her in a swimsuit saying 'Ack!' Genius!"
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cathy... Have my retarded baby.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate! Aack!
posted by ND¢ at 6:35 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frames 1-4: Astro Zombie complains that it is Monday, and he can't believe it. No one notices that the exact same strip runs M-F. On Saturday and Sunday, Astro Zombie worries that he is fat.

I do not want this to happen to Astro Zombie. Cancel Cathy more quickly, please!

Will no one think of the Astro Zombie!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:35 AM on August 12, 2010


From an interview with Zippy the Pinhead's creator Bill Griffith:
GM: What do you think is the worst comic strip of all time?

BG: There's such a huge list to choose from. From what's around now I'd have to say Cathy, for every reason from drawing to pseudo-reverse feminism. There's nothing feminist about it at all. It's just about a woman who's obsessed with dieting and the way she looks.
(at http://sonic.net/~goblin/zhead.html, cf. his strip from 1998 "The Results Are In")
posted by Creosote at 6:35 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Comics for my generation basically sucked. I remember being over my grandparents' house and opening up the "funnies" to read Mother Goose and Grimm and the Wizard of Id, and then being done with the section a whole 20 seconds later. Strips like Cathy and Family Circus made me want to bash my head in with a brick.
posted by fusinski at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The real reason is that the evil ghost that animates it fled into Liz lemon's body years ago.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


33 years and 51 weeks too late.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2010


"You can go bathing suit shopping and come home and ... get back at the swimwear industry," Guisewite said.

DAMN THAT SWIMWEAR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! DAMN THEM TO HELL!!!
posted by cmonkey at 6:39 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Liz Lemon the writers of Jezebel
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:40 AM on August 12, 2010


cACK!
posted by MuffinMan at 6:40 AM on August 12, 2010


    ___  ___  ___  ___  ___.---------------.
  .'\__\'\__\'\__\'\__\'\__,`   .  ____ ___ \
  |\/ __\/ __\/ __\/ __\/ _:\   |`.  \  \___ \
   \\'\__\'\__\'\__\'\__\'\_`.__|""`. \  \___ \
    \\/ __\/ __\/ __\/ __\/ __:                \
     \\'\__\'\__\'\__\ \__\'\_;-----------------`
      \\/   \/   \/   \/   \/ :               hh|
       \|______________________;________________| 
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 6:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yeah...seriously. Who DOES read it?
Someone here has to read it daily...even if it's for "academic" purposes.

I kinda wanna know demographics of a Cathy reader.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:41 AM on August 12, 2010


One down, 'Wizard of ID' and 'BC' to go.

I hardly dare mention the motley collection of also-rans that infest the local comics page: Marmaduke. Born Loser. Soup to Nuts. Drabble. Shoe.
posted by jquinby at 6:44 AM on August 12, 2010


I think what infuriates me about long-standing comics like Cathy is the inferior art that accompanies the writing. Like, maybe I just don't "get" Cathy's "humor", but after 34 years, you'd think it'd get a little better, artistically. In 12 years, Penny Arcade went from this to this. Questionable Content 7 years ago to today. 34 years later, Cathy.

Maybe webcomic readers just are more discerning than newspaper syndicates? That would explain why their industry is dying.*

*The comics page as a bellwether or metaphor for the industry, not that people have stopped reading papers because the comics page sucks.
posted by explosion at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's funny how I (probably most of us) knew exactly what the post would be about, seeing just that one word. Whether we like it or not, the "Ack!" has become iconic.

I have to give Guisewite props, though, for actually having the good sense to END IT, rather than continue to crank out strips well into her own senility and then getting her children or some other cartoonists to carry on the legacy in the papers after she's dead. Hank Ketcham, Dik Browne, Mort Walker, I'm looking in your direction.
posted by Gator at 6:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Marmaduke is inexplicably still going strong.
posted by schmod at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2010


Swimsuit-shopping-with-mom flop sweat will remain a go-to comedic reference in our home forever. Twelve years from now it will be one of many things that will make Little Llama cringe in embarrassment when we LOL it up in front of her friends, along with making puns on the word 'nom' and letting fly with an infinite number of Simpson references.

What losers, and oh, how she's going to hate us.

It's going to be great.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I really have next to no idea how papers decide which comics are being read, since they're all on the page together, other than by reading letters to the editor whenever a change is made. I remember when the San Diego Union-Tribune stopped running Fred Basset-- they got tons of letters from people who complained that the comics page didn't look the same. Several letters said something along the lines of 'It isn't funny, I know, so I see why you would take it out, but it's comforting to see it every day and I am afraid of change.'

So, it's quite possible that literally no one has been reading Cathy for 34 years.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I will plug Kathy.Ack at every available opportunity.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:55 AM on August 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


Several letters said something along the lines of 'It isn't funny, I know, so I see why you would take it out, but it's comforting to see it every day and I am afraid of change.'

This. When I was a kid and my tiny-town Illinois newspaper occasionally rotated in new comics and took out the old ones, complaints about it would be the only thing in the letters to the editor for weeks. So I can see exactly why the art in Cathy would never measurably improve the way it does in webcomics; not ever changing is more important to people who still read the comics in the paper.

Then again, the end of For Better or For Worse looked way better than the reruns Lynn Johnston is having them run now, so maybe I shouldn't be so forgiving.
posted by jackflaps at 7:06 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to really love Cathy right around puberty. Then I started High School and it just wasn't relevant to my life any more.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:08 AM on August 12, 2010


Someone here has to read it daily...

One of my deepest, darkest, most embarassing secrets, revealed here for the first time, is that I read Cathy almost every day. I have no idea why I do it; I get no pleasure from the act. It is not funny, and this middle-aged man certainly doesn't identify with the title character (nor Irving). It remains the shameful mystery at the core of my being.
posted by TedW at 7:08 AM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Maybe webcomic readers just are more discerning than newspaper syndicates? That would explain why their industry is dying.*

Well yes and no. Print cartoons are dying because the print industry is dying, and for all the arguments about webcomics being "better" than print cartoons, quality is really irrelevant in the business part of it. There are widely-considered-awful webcomics that are likewise pulling in six figure incomes for the artist, too.

Quality is subjective; the reason webcomics all look better than print cartoons is because you can pick and choose what webcomics you read, and logically you're only exposed to the good ones. I can't open the comics section to read "Pearls Before Swine" and magically have "Cathy" not be there. Point being, there's just as many shitty webcomics as shitty print comics, perhaps even more. The model for the web has improved quality because the readers have control of the filter, not the editors. It's great for readers but bad for the old model.

Now you can oppose the old model, and many do, and it's a perfectly agreeable side to take, but this is just the business perspective of it, with personal opinions being arbitrary. Readers aren't more of less "discerning." They just have the ability to pick their preferences a la carte, and they don't need to buy a 75-cent newspaper to do it. If this wakes up the old medium and inspires them to be better, I'm all for it. But I'm pretty sure it's far too late.

Now, personally? Yeah, Cathy sucks. That it stank up newspapersfor 34 years while Diesel Sweeties couldn't last a year is abhorrent. And explosion made a great observation about how it's been goddamn static for nearly four decades. After the first ten years, why bother making more? They can keep re-running the same strips over and over and over again. And tragically, they probably will. I imagine many newspapers will continue to keep "Cathy" instead of adding someone new because they get a good deal from the syndicate and they're terrified about the feelings of one of their five remaining readers.

(To answer the other part of explosion's observation, there's actually a reason that the art style of popular comics doesn't change: the syndicates don't want it. Changing the "style" of Cathy, or Garfield, or Peanuts, and so on, means you've changed the style of all the toys, posters, backpacks, and other assorted merchandise. United Media makes a double-digit percentage of their income off Peanuts revenue. A comic that stopped running nearly ten years ago. Why would they want Snoopy redesigned in any way?)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


What's truly sad is that Cathy's "acking" survived Kathy Acker by 13 years. There is no justice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks to a previous job, I had the great fortune of meeting many cartoonists, including Cathy. Say what you will about the strip (I was never a great fan) Cathy herself was a nice, sincere person. It's cool that she's letting it go to spend more time with her family. Well done.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of my deepest, darkest, most embarassing secrets, revealed here for the first time, is that I read Cathy almost every day.

TedW, I have no words. I believed in you.
posted by Kinbote at 7:14 AM on August 12, 2010


Sweat drops. Sweat drops.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:16 AM on August 12, 2010


Someday Annie is going to come out of that Bolivian jungle and burn this whole world down.
posted by Artw at 7:16 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


A lot of the FBofW strips are actually new ones drawn in the style of the old ones. I used to enjoy it, but it just somehow died as her kids left adolescence.

I read Cathy when it was in the papers here, because it was there, next to all the other comics, but by the end I read it in order to complain about it anyhow. There are so many bad comics in daily papers, though, and Cathy is hardly the worst of them.
posted by jeather at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2010


From "Nina's Adventures", Nina Paley's comic that ran in some alternative weeklies a long time ago:

Nina stands with a surly expression, reading from a script.

"I'm so fat.

"I'm so ugly.

"I can't stay on my diet.

"I love to shop. I love useless consumer goods.

"I can't exercise the restraint I need to avoid overspending.

"I fall head over heels in love with men who are assholes such wacky guys.

"I'm totally irrational.

"I guess we women are just like that. Ha-ha."

She puts down the script and glares.

"Can I be nationally syndicated now?"
posted by Zed at 7:23 AM on August 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


After carefully thinking it over, I believe this leaves Luann as the worst (multipanel) shitball to currently stink up the comics page. There are other contenders (Momma, Herb and Jamal, the aforementioned BC and Wizard of Id*), but none of them horrify the eyes and the mind the way Luann does. That fucking strip needs to be purified with fire.


*And, of course, there's the mound of putrescence that is Mallard Fillmore, but I recuse it from consideration because its politics irritate me so much that I can't even pretend to be objective about the ways in which it sucks. And, anyway, it's actually pretty well-drawn.
posted by COBRA! at 7:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Family Circus isn't brilliant but it isn't Cathy.
posted by k8t at 7:28 AM on August 12, 2010


From an interview with Zippy the Pinhead's creator Bill Griffith:
GM: What do you think is the worst comic strip of all time?

BG: There's such a huge list to choose from.


Starting with Zippy the Pinhead.
posted by Faze at 7:31 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Yeah...seriously. Who DOES read it?
Someone here has to read it daily...even if it's for "academic" purposes.

I kinda wanna know demographics of a Cathy reader.
"

See: Jean Teasdale.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Greg Nog - I think I love you for pointing me in Kathy.Ack direction. Or perhaps I hate you. I've never associated the two and now, I fear, I will forever.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:43 AM on August 12, 2010


I was really, really hoping this would be about Bill the cat.

Then it would have been "Ack! Thpppbbt!"
posted by KingEdRa at 7:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


.

34 years too late.
posted by spicynuts at 7:48 AM on August 12, 2010


Oh thank god.
posted by chundo at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2010


This came up on #mefi (yes, there is still a #mefi!) - there's gotta be Cathy slashfic somewhere, right?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:59 AM on August 12, 2010


I think Comics Curmudgeon says it best:
Obviously, a long-running strip like Cathy can’t just go away without a big to-do. But with the strip’s formerly chronically single title character now married off, and the October 3 end date too close for her to finally poop out a baby, we have to ask ourselves what the bang of an ending will be. Since Cathy was a pioneer depiction of a working woman, we suggest that she get with the times: heartless layoff, followed by workplace spree killing, concluding with suicide by cop.
posted by tommasz at 8:04 AM on August 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


So what are the good mainstream comments from a woman's perspective? For Better or For Worse is the only one I can think of.
posted by Nelson at 8:10 AM on August 12, 2010


When I was in my teens and would read the comics every day, I never really did understand Cathy at all. I would get to the end and be like, erm, okay, well, maybe it's a female / adult thing. I'm glad to find that it wasn't me, and that the comic just sucked for a very, very long time.
posted by menschlich at 8:10 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my deepest, darkest, most embarassing secrets, revealed here for the first time, is that I read Cathy almost every day. I have no idea why I do it; I get no pleasure from the act. It is not funny, and this middle-aged man certainly doesn't identify with the title character (nor Irving). It remains the shameful mystery at the core of my being.

You just can't keep your eyes off that trainwreck.
posted by swooz at 8:13 AM on August 12, 2010


there's gotta be Cathy slashfic somewhere, right?

One of the first things I used Google Buzz for was to write Cathy/Jon Arbuckle slashfic on one of my friend's Buzz-entry-things. Sadly, he's since deleted his account, so that particular glory seems to be gone forever.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:13 AM on August 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


I kinda wanna know demographics of a Cathy reader.

Dead inside, age dead inside to dead inside.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:16 AM on August 12, 2010


Cathy is a woman?!
posted by Fizz at 8:24 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look at the facts, the mundane repetitiveness, the boring content that no one pays attention to, the incomprehensibly long run...

Cathy was the comic equivalent of a numbers station and somewhere out there, right now, there is a covert operation being decommissioned.

Picture a man sitting in a park reading a newspaper, he idly flips to the comics. A moment later he makes a call "At the symphony tonight, one of the "artists" is going to need to be "discovered". Look for a blue scarf. Please note, the heart is the client's preferred target."

Seriously; it's the only thing that makes sense.
posted by quin at 8:36 AM on August 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


The article says Guisewite is looking for a new creative project. Maybe she should turn Cathy into a television show. Cathy and her friends could gather in swanky nightspots to discuss their tiresome obsessions with shoes, dieting, and men. And there could be lots and lots of screwing!
posted by steambadger at 8:39 AM on August 12, 2010


At least she's killing it off and not letting some staff writers run it until forever like most of the zombie strips still printed in my hometown paper. Yea she had the same three jokes running for 35 years but Blondie's been running the same three jokes for 80 years now and shows no sign of ever stopping.
posted by octothorpe at 8:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I refuse to read any comic strip which has a character with no nose and her eyes squished together.
posted by digsrus at 8:44 AM on August 12, 2010


Starting with Zippy the Pinhead.

Pistols at dawn.

Kathy.Ack is so good, I think I might cry, and/or print out every post until I have enough to cover my cubicle walls. (That couldn't possibly end badly, right?)
posted by clavicle at 8:50 AM on August 12, 2010


there's gotta be Cathy slashfic somewhere, right?

ack

ack

ack

ack
ack
ack
ack
ACK
ACK
ACKACKACKACKACKACKACK
AAAAACCCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!!
posted by ND¢ at 9:01 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I mainly know about Kathy from that one gag on 30 Rock, but I feel like I pretty much got it.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on August 12, 2010


eh, I didn't mind her. She was completely uncreative, but occasionally I would smile. I'm not going to miss Cathy. But while everyone is talking about webcomics, are there good webcomics out there that don't focus on "nerd" topics? And are written from a woman's perspective?
posted by bluefly at 9:06 AM on August 12, 2010


Just as TedW reads Cathy, I find myself unable to not read Luann, despite how awful it is.

I think, generally speaking, Arlo & Janis is pretty OK.
posted by maxwelton at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2010


"Since Cathy was a pioneer depiction of a working woman, we suggest that she get with the times: heartless layoff, followed by workplace spree killing, concluding with suicide by cop."

- joshreads.com
posted by klausman at 9:13 AM on August 12, 2010


TedW: J'accuse!

It was you!
posted by Weebot at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2010


That wasn't the tag I wanted...
posted by Weebot at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2010


I find myself unable to not read Luann, despite how awful it is.

This is also my deepest, darkest secret.
posted by GuyZero at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like, maybe I just don't "get" Cathy's "humor", but after 34 years, you'd think it'd get a little better, artistically. In 12 years, Penny Arcade went from this to this. Questionable Content 7 years ago to today. 34 years later, Cathy.

Meh. I'd venture that this has more to do with web comics artists largely starting out without a ton of artistic background or experience, though there's quite a bit of evolution is the stylistics of paper comics, too. Take a look at the first Peanuts strip or the first Garfield strip.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article says Guisewite is looking for a new creative project. Maybe she should turn Cathy into a television show.

It's already been done.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:31 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this Lio comic says it best.
posted by Fizz at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2010


Maybe Time can put her on the cover to help prolong the war in Afghanistan.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2010


Oh thank god. I hate "Cathy" and I'm glad I won't have to avoid it any more.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2010


the first Garfield strip

Garfield is not a comic strip. Garfield is a business plan.
posted by Herodios at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Mods (and all), sorry about my double ..... I did a search and a quick look down the homepage and didn't see this.
posted by blucevalo at 9:58 AM on August 12, 2010


Frame one: Astro Zombie mentions that he has read the Cathy will cease publication.
Frame two: Astro Zombie complains about Cathy's endlessly repetitive structure.
Frame three: Astro Zombie's complaints become frantic.
Frame four: Astro Zombie, now calm, makes a short, pithy, ironic observation.
Now quick, somebody draw this up, post it to MetaFilter, and we'll have it on CNN by dinner.
posted by howling fantods at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Zippy can be repetitive and formulaic, like any long-running strip. But it is always beautifully drawn, and I can forgive Griffith a lot for his occasional moment of whimsical genius, like "Moore's Law", a signed print of which adorns my office.
posted by Creosote at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2010


I met a woman whose cubicle was full of Cathy - Calendar? check. Mug? check, Wall plaques? check. Notepads? check. Postit notes? check. etc. The general theme was "I hate being single and female. Please find me a Perfect Man so I can marry and have babies." It was terrifying, and I'm female.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


the first Garfield strip

Did Jon's being a cartoonist ever come up again?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2010


you'd think it'd get a little better, artistically. In 12 years, Penny Arcade went from this to this. Questionable Content 7 years ago to today. 34 years later, Cathy.

For some folks, "more gradients" and "looks even more like lifeless anime" don't equate to "get a little better, artistically".
posted by scrowdid at 10:11 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I find myself unable to not read Luann, despite how awful it is.

The disturbing thing about Luann is that it's written by a guy. I don't know why I find that disconcerting, but I do.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:17 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


But while everyone is talking about webcomics, are there good webcomics out there that don't focus on "nerd" topics? And are written from a woman's perspective?

Girls with slingshots should suit you. I wish she'd get around adding a RSS feed.

I wish this post was about Bloom County coming back, but Cathy retiring is a decent, though inferior, substitute.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:18 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The disturbing thing about Luann is that it's written by a guy. I don't know why I find that disconcerting, but I do.

I also have been participating in this private indulgence and I never realized it was a male who wrote that particular strip. Will have to re-think how I read this particular work, changes so many things about the relationships that are portrayed.
posted by Fizz at 10:19 AM on August 12, 2010


GenjiandProust: "What's truly sad is that Cathy's "acking" survived Kathy Acker by 13 years. There is no justice."

This is poetry. I so wish that I was the one who wrote this...
posted by Splunge at 10:20 AM on August 12, 2010


Tody's Cathy is about Cathy and Irving taking 87 photos of the fern outside their hotel room. Today's "Luann" is about Crystal making a date with Knute.

It's hard to decide which one makes me want more to gouge out my eyes with a fork.
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on August 12, 2010


Fortunately you have two eyes.
posted by Nelson at 10:33 AM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


For some folks, "more gradients" and "looks even more like lifeless anime" don't equate to "get a little better, artistically".

Pish. Mike Krahulik's developed a relatively distinctive style that gets him gigs drawing for things such as Dungeons and Dragons book covers. It's a far cry from his original Penny Arcade strips, and maybe it's too "anime-inspired" for you, but it's a clear improvement.

The same can't be said for Cathy Guisewite's art, nor her writing.
posted by explosion at 10:47 AM on August 12, 2010


There was an article years ago on The Onion which poked fun at Luann's writer Greg Evans (not the one about Luann and terrorism), positing that his motivation in writing Luann was he was a lonely perv who liked teen girls. The article was illustrated with a photo of his drawing board showing the Tiffany character bending over in short-shorts, looking backwards, and saying "Hi Greg" (or something similar). All traces have disappeared, as far as I can google, anyway.

I kinda doubt that's the motivation, seeing as Luann seems destined to never get any. It's also telling that Luann, an attractive girl, can't get a guy except uber-dork Gunther, but her totally unattractive, nerdy older brother lands the hottest chick ever.

Oh, god, this is what it was like for my mother, who compulsively watched As the World Turns, wasn't it?

posted by maxwelton at 11:10 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I forget which cartoonist (R. Crumb, maybe?) said that Cathy looked like black string randomly thrown on a page. I've always wondered if part of the appeal of the strip was that it looked like something that the reader could draw without too much trouble. You know how sometimes junior high kids will doodle little cartoon faces, but they can't really extend that to other types of cartooning, or even make a recognizable caricature of someone , they just learned to copy that face from someone else? Cathy's like that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:14 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fortunately you have two eyes.

How do you know how many eyes I have?
posted by blucevalo at 11:20 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find myself unable to not read Luann, despite how awful it is.

This is also my deepest, darkest secret.
posted by GuyZero


I was going to ask what the fuck is wrong with all of you secret Luann readers, and then it occurred to me that I wouldn't know about how sucky it was if I didn't obsessively read it to verify the suckiness.
posted by COBRA! at 11:24 AM on August 12, 2010


I kinda doubt that's the motivation, seeing as Luann seems destined to never get any. It's also telling that Luann, an attractive girl, can't get a guy except uber-dork Gunther, but her totally unattractive, nerdy older brother lands the hottest chick ever.

I think he's an equal-opportunity perv. He definitely has been lavishing attention on drawing Brad (the older brother) lately, maybe to make it more understandable why he would end up with the spitting image of 1980s Kim Basinger as a girlfriend, maybe because he finds drawing Brad's firefighter muscles kinda semi-arousing.
posted by blucevalo at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2010


Omigod I really need to read some Luann right now.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article was illustrated with a photo of his drawing board showing the Tiffany character bending over in short-shorts, looking backwards, and saying "Hi Greg" (or something similar).

That picture's in the terrorism article, actually.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, Greg Nog. Is Luann to blame for my lack of cognitive skills, or is my lack of cognitive skills to blame for my reading Luann?
posted by maxwelton at 12:13 PM on August 12, 2010


There are widely-considered-awful webcomics that are likewise pulling in six figure incomes for the artist, too.

6 FIGURES? Prove this.
posted by edbles at 12:14 PM on August 12, 2010


Ack! Who will I turn to to commiserate the horribleness of swimsuit shopping, my intense love of chocolate, and bad hair days! Sweat drops! Sweat drops!

Also, you should watch Andy Samberg's Cathy impression. Highly entertaining!
posted by fyrebelley at 12:17 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Next up, Garfield. (I can only hope.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:26 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


6 FIGURES? Prove this.

This. I can think of a handful of webcomics that I read where the creators are doing probably this well (ok, well... Penny Arcade is really the only one I can think of that seems to be doing EXTREMELY well)... But I can't think of any TERRIBLE comics that are popular enough to be earning 6 figures, off the top of my head.
posted by antifuse at 12:30 PM on August 12, 2010


It all depends. Does Slashdot count as a webcomic?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2010


It all depends. Does Slashdot count as a webcomic?

Yes, but only the posts about M$.
posted by edbles at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2010


Check out this synchronicity: After reading this thread, I was chatting with a friend online. She was telling me how excited she was that when she went shopping for dresses recently she was able to fit into a smaller sized dress than ever before. She excused herself to go try one of her new dresses on again, and then came back and said "oh no! this bra makes it impossible to zip all the way up. ack." with zero irony. Luckily she was only jokingly offended when I couldn't help but laugh at her and call her "Cathy". Highlight of my day.
posted by DanielDManiel at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2010


Now I can only look to 9 Chickwood Lane to learn about these mysterious, insufferable fe-male creatures.
posted by Skot at 12:41 PM on August 12, 2010


> After carefully thinking it over, I believe this leaves Luann as the worst (multipanel) shitball to currently stink up the comics page

I take it your paper doesn't carry Rose is Rose.

Like many others, I have the problem of wanting to read Pearls Before Swine and Fraz, then finding myself reading Prickly City, then hating myself. Fortunately my paper just stopped carrying 9 Chickweed Lane; unfortunately my son likes to ask me what various comics mean every morning, which means I end up trying to explain why Chuckle Bros is supposed to be funny.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:47 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chickwood? Chickweed. Oh, well, pick any double vowel you like, it still eats. I'm going to go with Chickwuud from now on and pretend that it involves Elder Gods.
posted by Skot at 12:47 PM on August 12, 2010


The problem is it's not like she's going to go away. They never go away. They'll just rerun old strips until the end of time, just like Shoe and Peanuts and BC (the horror! the eldritch horror!) and all the other zombie comics out there. The only thing I kind of miss about the newspaper since I gave up the habit six years ago is the daily comics. I used to read them all, every day - yes, I confess, I was a follower of Mary Worth for many years - but now when I actually pick up a paper I'm astonished at just how awful and yet how exactly the same they all still are.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:53 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


The best thing I can say about Cathy is that it was one of the only reasons I was able to drag my hungover ass out of bed early on Sunday mornings when I worked at a B&B. The only thing worse than reading Cathy is having it read to you out loud--which was the prerogative of the first person up in the mornings for breakfast service. Well, that and Family Circus and Ziggy.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, the current incarnation of BC is, at the very least, better than it was in any of the last twenty years or so under Johnny Hart's hand. They've even added a character that I highly approve of.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:56 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I take it your paper doesn't carry Rose is Rose.

"Rose Is Rose" is preferable to "Luann." The cute anthropomorphic cat that looks like a rat makes more appearances in that strip than does the cute non-anthropomorphic dog that looks like a small pig in "Luann."
posted by blucevalo at 12:56 PM on August 12, 2010


I was about to speak up in defense of 9 Chickwood Lane, some of whose cat comics I'd liked a lot. Then I googled and realized I've apparently been confusing it with Rose is Rose.
posted by Zed at 1:01 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can read the strip from 1996 onward here.

This one finally broke my spirit and I stopped reading them. I couldn't even handle a month's worth.

My ACK! just turned to ugh...
posted by fyrebelley at 1:05 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The most horrifying moment of my career at Arthur Andersen was not when I was laid off, not when I found out my coworkers had shred incriminating documents, but when at a corporate retreat I was told (in front of a room full of coworkers) that I looked like Cathy.

ack!


This was part of some sort of bs corporate funtimes where everyone knew was told who they looked like. Every Asian woman ws told she looked like Ann Curry so I should have known to not take it personally!
posted by vespabelle at 1:18 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


They'll just rerun old strips until the end of time, just like Shoe and Peanuts

I think it's worse than that with Shoe; I believe they're reusing old art and putting new "jokes" in.

I mean, I wish Peanuts wasn't being rerun, but at least it's being rerun intact.
posted by COBRA! at 1:36 PM on August 12, 2010


The responses in this thread have almost made up for the last 34 years.
posted by mecran01 at 1:56 PM on August 12, 2010


On hate for Zippy the Pinhead: Bite your tongue. It's awesome. The key to enjoying it is to get that Griffy and Zippy are two sides of the same character. Yes, really; Bill Griffith drew some "tutorial" strips some time back that explained the whole premise.

From the article: Lee Salem, president and editor of Universal Uclick, said in a news release that the same day Universal received its first "Cathy" submission, the company sent a contract back to Guisewite.

Guisewite seems like a nice person, and it's great that she found non-soul-killing employment. But now that she's out of the game, Universal seriously needs to call Kate Beaton to take her place.
posted by JHarris at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I love about that old Onion article is that Luann is the only strip whose response to the 9/11 attacks I can recall at all - this is what made Brad become a firefighter. It was dreadfully sincere, if I recall.

Cathy wasn't just static - it was static while somehow believing that it was possibly dynamic. The circumstances of her life could change, but the half-handful of jokes wouldn't, and the characters would never evolve even a little bit. Take this as compared to something like Peanuts or much moreso Calvin & Hobbes, where the characters were doomed to eternally be little kids in the same situations, but the characters could be more and more fully developed over time.

After ten years, Calvin was a brilliantly deep character - lonely as hell but with a single friendship that was stronger and more real than any on the funny pages; he had good parents who didn't always know what to say, nor what to do about him, but were also not above fucking with him for fun some of the time, incorrigible but able to be quickly beaten down by the real world intruding on his ever-expanding fantasy-life., etc.

After 34 years, Cathy is the same flat caricature that she was at the beginning.

Scott Adams once said about Dilbert that one of the perks of his job was that if he only made you laugh at one strip a week he was doing great. As cynical as this sounds (and Adams has certainly followed much the same comic-strip-as-business-empire mode as Jim Davis) if you look at the comics page, he's right. Even Pearls Before Swine and Get Fuzzy are only at their best hitting at anywhere near that level, and those are the best things in mainstream newspapers these days. Still, when Dilbert is funny, it's very, very funny. The characters are just as static, without any attempt at artwork, and the style hasn't really evolved whether in writing or aesthetics. But he cares about the jokes, at least. He hasn't seen the inside of an office in decades, but knows the source of his humor is lunacy passing itself as logical because those further down the totem pole are powerless to object, and uses emails from readers to keep his ideas (relatively) fresh.

Cathy Guisewhite never did this.

As for webcomics, dear god are there a lot of shitty ones out there. But no one reads them because they suck. Some of the successful ones generally act as stand-alone strips (Dinosaur Comics, xkcd, SMBC, toothpaste for dinner & affiliates) but most choose to have long-running story continuity. The thing about the webcomics that do this and are successful, again, is that they have their characters develop over time. Achewood is still the king of this, even if now checking that page every day feels like being a lost-cause addict at a methodone clinic. Onstad has created a slew of great, layered, unique characters with their own voices and styles, with which he can constantly create new situations which reveal new, but entirely natural, things about them. And his writing is the best in the business. Cathy is usually wall-to-wall text with no style or talent.

Even a webcomic with limited artistic style and hit-or-miss humor at best (here I'm thinking of Order of the Stick) can be rewarding, because Rich Burlew knows and loves his characters so much, and has seemingly long-running stories which pay off for each of them. Using the most rudimentary art in webcomics, he managed to make the Battle for Azure City as sweeping and emotional as the Battle for Helm's Deep, because he was wise enough to keep everything focused on what his many, many unique characters were up to the whole time, even if most of it was jokey, the wide-angle-view seems way more dramatic and captivating than it has any right to.

There are, in other words, so, so many ways to connect with an audience through this medium, and a lot of leniency and forgiveness. Cathy lived for 34 damn years, while striking at none of them. If I miss it at all, it will only be due to familiarity.

That said, I loved it when the print version of The Onion was running it in Spanish as some sort of Meta-joke.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:25 PM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also, I've never hated Zippy the Pinhead, but I had to laugh when Dibert did a strip a while back where DOgbert was drawing a comic clearly meant to be Zippy, and stating that the idea was to cram so much art in there that the readers wouldn't care that they couldn't find the joke.

Final panel -

DILBERT: "The joke is on the reader, right?"
DOGBERT: "Damn. Better cram some more art in there."
posted by Navelgazer at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Girls with slingshots should suit you.

I really don't get GwS. I tried to like it, as I've liked a few "twenty somethings with magical sidekick" webcomics in my time, but all the characters were too interchangeable in personality and drawing style so I couldn't remember who was who in the crowd scenes. It's still in my comics bookmarks but, like PvP, I'm pretty sure it's just there out of inertia.

But anyhow. Cathy. And Astrozombie.

o ~(I have read that Cathy will cease publication)
+
^

o ~(Thank goodness. That repetitive structure was threatening to destroy my brain!)
+
^

o ~(...causing a leptonic subcranial explosion endangering the galaxy!!!)
+
^

* ~(Ack!)
+
^
posted by Sparx at 5:59 PM on August 12, 2010


We'll finally discover that Cathy is just Garfield wearing a girl-suit.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:24 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is getting pretty far down on the comments list but I'll weigh in just by saying that Guisewite is, in the end, an artist, whether one likes her art or not.

I read "Cathy" for a while when I was being "stalked" (before today's meaning of the word - was annoying but pretty harmless at the time) by a woman who looked exactly like Cathy, frizzed-out hair and mind, and so on and so forth. I thought I might "understand" my admirer by following Cathy's similar mind-set. Didn't work, and I was no potential hubby anyways, so I skipped over "Cathy" in the paper from then on. The strip hasn't appeared in my daily for over a decade.

There's lots to like or dislike in the daily cartoons, for whatever reason we choose to express as an opinion. Guisewite applied her art, she had keen followers, her art fell out of favour, and she knew when to exit. Could any artist expect more?
posted by drogien at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2010


Tolerators gotta tolerate.
posted by Zed at 11:35 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


she knew when to exit

I would argue that this is in fact not the case.
posted by edbles at 11:36 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to drop back in here and say, as a continuation of the Luann aside, if the reappearance of Dirk (or whatever the name of the sunglasses criminal dude is) means that Luann's going to date him, drop out of high school with his baby, etc., the strip might actually have some life in it. Or if he's come back to win Brad away from Toni, that might be awesome.

Jesus, Evans just is not capable of killing off a character, is he?

posted by maxwelton at 2:45 AM on September 6, 2010



posted by Wolfdog at 5:46 AM on September 9, 2010


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