Cathy Ends and the Villagers Rejoice

It’s a sad day for the comic world.  Cathy, the most famous woman’s comic in the world, is about to end.  Just look at a terrific example of this classic comic strip:


I believe, and have always believed, that there is a certain double standard when it comes to women, men, and comics.  I’m not talking about the stupid “how come men get more distinguished with age and women just look old” thing; I’m talking about something that sounds super-sexist and yet true: “It’s not that bad, for a girl.”

Cathy is not a funny strip.  At all.  As a matter of fact, it’s almost universally known to be one of the stupidest comic strips published.  Here’s a bunch of snubs from her peers:

And one from her better:

So, if it’s so bad, how did Cathy ever get published?  Because “It’s not that bad, for a girl.”  If Dilbert was so unfunny or even Garfield, is there any way those respective strips would’ve found there way into papers?

If you find me one funny Cathy cartoon, I'll take it all back.

Basically, Cathy filled a demographic that was needed at the time.  It’s not a labor of love, it’s not some sort of a “slice of life that really cuts to the very fiber of Americana.”  It just happened to be what they were looking for at the time.  To me, this is the very essence of what’s wrong with entertainment.  People who don’t know what people want, are telling people what they want and then giving it to them.  Radio, TV, movies… no one says, “You know what you’re doing.  Here’s some money, go do more of it.”

I just hope someday someone will say, “You know what we need?  A long-running, multi-facetted tale about a stick-figure.”  And I’ll be there to get their loot.

4 Responses

  1. I haven’t said anything in a good while. Just letting you know we’re still alive here.

    When I was very young, like between six and eight years old, I figured out that all Cathy comics could be effectively summarized by reading the first panel and the last panel. I’m sure that if someone really surveyed Cathy comics for an exception, they’d find it, but I’ve yet to find a comic in which any of the panels in the middle served any additional role in setting up the punchline.

    Look at the comic above.

    Panel 1: Cathy complains of price of swimsuit.
    Panel 2: Cathy complains of price and size of swimsuit.
    Panel 3: Cathy complains with a vague threat.
    Panel 4: Cathy indicates to confidant that an even higher price would have been acceptable if the suit had fit; i.e. Cathy was angry because her ass was too big for the suit, not because of the price.

    The joke actually works better if you leave out the two middle panels, because in panel 2, Cathy explicitly derides the size of the swimsuit. The point of panel 4 is that she reveals her concerns to be about her size rather than the price of the suit, but it’s hardly a “reveal” if she admits as much in panel 2. Granted, there’s an ambiguity, because panel 2 seems to be referring to the skimpiness of the suit, while panel 4 seems to be referring to the clothing size. But, in any case, panel 2 doesn’t strengthen the joke.

    That said, I don’t think Cathy is exceptionally bad. Almost all newspaper comics are unreadably bad.

  2. Isn’t it weird how almost every comic is bad? I realize it’s difficult to make something funny everyday, but there are very few comics that are funny even sporadically.

    I read once that Scott Adams said he thought Dilbert would be the last “meteoric” comic because of the rise of technology killing the newspaper. I disagree; I think it’ll be the last because no one can write a consistently funny strip.

    Seriously, besides Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side, Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, and Outland, how many comics are even funny on a “sometimes” basis?

  3. Calvin & Hobbes was probably the best comic strip of all time in terms of humor and consistency. I know there are comics that were much longer running, more influential, or aesthetically designed for something other than humor, but for the usual case of the newspaper “funnies,” Calvin & Hobbes was as good as it got.

    It ended fifteen years ago, and I’m still waiting for a reason to read funnies again.

    Dilbert’s not bad, and has a lot of very funny strips. Scott Adams’s books that intersperse comics and prose are even better. But I can’t say Dilbert has ever had the draw of Calvin & Hobbes. And Dilbert’s probably the best thing since.

  4. I think the thing Watterson got right with C&H was that it was fun and cute and funny all at the same time (and also had some pretty nice watercolors for the trades). Anyone could enjoy it. Dilbert is more for the I.T./hate everything crowd.

    You should try Get Fuzzy. It’s in the 90th percentile of funny comics (I did research).

    Although, I guess, since practically every comic strip is AWFUL, that’s not saying much.

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