Cathy Guisewite, Cartoons and the Single Girl
We All Have To Start Somewhere
Cathy Guisewite was born on September 5, 1950, in Dayton, Ohio to William Lee and Anne Guisewite, but she grew up in Midland, Michigan. She was educated at the University of Michigan and was a member of the Delta, Delta, Delta Sorority. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1972. She had a career writing for the Campbell-Ewald Agency, and then she worked in advertising for W.B. Doner & Company, where she rose to the executive ranks, before becoming a hit cartoonist.
Cathy talks about how her mother was always a driving force in her life, although, she credits her father for her sense of humor. Her love-hate relationship with mom is often reflected in her famous cartoon strip “Cathy.” In her fifteenth anniversary cartoon compilation, titled Reflections, Cathy tells about how her mother had always taught her to write things down, when she was experiencing negative emotions, such as jealousy or hurt, instead of expressing her feelings verbally. She says that this didn’t help her relate very well to other people, but she did develop a closeness with paper. One day in 1976, when she was feeling conflicting emotions, she wrote a letter to her mom with an illustration, to show how she was feeling. Her mother now knew her daughter’s true calling and told Cathy that her drawings were the making of a cartoon strip. Mother knows best, and the rest is history.
A Brilliant Career that has Touched the Lives of Many Readers
In November 1976 "Cathy", America’s favorite single gal, made her debut in Newspapers
Guisewite credits Charles Schultz, the creator of “Peanuts” and Mort Walker, the creator of “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi & Lois” for paving the way for her into syndication. Since that time Guisewite has been chronicling Cathy’s love life, career, friends, diets, and personal hang-ups. Cathy invented, what she calls, the four major guilt groups in the lives of most women. These four major guilt groups being mothers, food, love and career, which are major themes throughout her cartoon strip.
Cathy’s cartoons touches on the things that are important to most women. Guisewite has an interesting twist on such things as: trends, men, meeting men, her significant other, Irving, mom, fashion, and diets. Her cartoon regulars consist of: Andrea, Charlene, Zenith (Andrea’s daughter), the shop keeper or waitress (every time Cathy goes shopping, or dines out, she’s there to assist Cathy in her shopping adventures, or food choices), Cathy’s parents, her boss (Mr. Pinkley), the farrago of men she dates, Flo (Cathy’s mother’s friend), Andrea’s husband, Blank, and last but not least, Cathy’s dog Electra. These pretty much make up Cathy’s world.
Cathy’s cartoons center around the trials and tribulations that plague most single women. Trial number one is “bathing suit season.” Bathing suit season is when you have the famous cartoon strips, with Cathy being tortured in the fitting room trying to find the right bathing suit. Like most women, Cathy has her problem areas, or she just hasn’t finished with her diet yet. Here is the dialog from one of her fitting room scenarios:
- Cathy: AAACK
- Shop Keeper: May I help you?
- Cathy: Yes, I would like the phone number of the lunatic, who designed this bathing suit. I want the home address of the person whose idea it was to combine the “cut-out-tummy” look with the “thong-rear-thing” I want past criminal records of the person who thought contemporary women would enjoy a tourniquet waistband on our bikini bottoms. I want you to find one man, who would be willing to wear a bathing suit that expose the equivalent of what 99.9% of all women expose! And last I want compensation pay for the fortunes women will spend on therapy this year when—after waxing, bleaching, electrolysis, tanning bars, and total starvation—we still feel “normal” wearing these #65 rubber bands out in public.
- Shop Keeper: Did you need a different size?
Her next biggest challenge would definitely be her significant other, Irving. Here is the dialog, of one of the many hilarious scenarios between Cathy and Irving:
- Cathy: “Minoxidil” you’re trying to fight thinning hair with “Minoxidil”?
- Irving: Yeah…See, Cathy? Women don’t have all the problems.
- Cathy: Irving I’m dealing with wrinkles, sags, bags, lines circles, flab,…50 billion younger women as my competition…and about fifteen minutes left to decide whether or not I’ll ever be a mother!!! All you have to worry about is going bald.
- Irving: Want to trade places?
- Cathy: No.
If you are looking for humor between the sexes, you need to look no further, than a dialog between Cathy and Irving. Another area I would like to cover is Cathy’s relationship with one of most women’s greatest nemesis, the diet. Here’s a dialog from one of her cartoons:
- Andrea: Earlier today you turned down a 15 cent donut, a 35 cent cookie, and a fifty cent cupcake…And now you’re diving into a $10.00 box of chocolates. Cathy how could you do this to yourself?
- Cathy: I was hoping the more expensive fat would look better on me.
In her cartoon, the character Cathy was originally meant to stay perpetually single. All her cartoon strips reflect on singleness and a single woman's mindset. She is the voice of the female baby boomers, which chose to forgo marriage, to pursue careers and have a little fun, before finally being tied down. Her boyfriend Irving, for most of the cartoon strip, tended to be a tad commitment phobic. Therefore, Cathy lived life to the fullest, being the icon, of all single women. Until a big change took place in Guisewite’s life, she got married!!!
After the Nuptials, How this Changed The Cartoon and the Single Girl
Cartoonist, Cathy Guisewite finally found that special someone to share her life with. The lucky guy is Christopher Wilkinson, who is a screenwriter, producer and director. He wrote Nuts, Ali, Copying Beethoven and co-wrote Nixon. Cathy and Christopher got married in 1997. This step in Guisewite life, changed things for Cathy eight years later. Guisewite’s original intention was to keep her cartoon gal single. Guisewite makes the following statement, when asked about Cathy’s becoming a bride: “I never thought Cathy would get married in the comic strip. And I also thought I would never get married in real life. So both are shocks to me. When I got married, people said, "Oh, now the character's going to get married." And I thought, no, this will really be where our lives separate. She'll go her way, I'll go mine, and that will be that. But the truth is, now that I'm married and actually living with a man 24 hours a day, the wealth of material is too great to pass up.”
Guisewite, who finally found all the joys of married life to outweigh the singleness mystic, decided it was time to make Irving declare his love and let Cathy be swept of her feet. She even made an online wedding registry for her Cartoon heroine, the site was called “thebigday.com” and she raised twenty five thousand dollars for the Pet Orphans of California. She did her fund raising with her adopted daughter, twelve year old daughter, Ivy.
Guisewite felt that there was so much material to be gleaned by the marrying of Cathy, and that many of her readers felt it was time for Cathy and Irving to tie the knot. Guisewite did several cartoon strips focusing on the wedding and all the events surrounding the wedding. After all, every phase of a woman’s life, has lots and lots of details to share. She chose February 5, 2005 for Cathy and Irving’s wedding day, this is Guisewite’s mother’s birthday.
Since the beginning of her career, Guisewite has authored many books with her wonderful cartoon strips. Here is a partial listing of some of her masterpieces:
- The Cathy Chronicles (1978)
- What do You Mean I Still Don’t Have Equal Rights??!! (1980)
- What’s a Nice Single Girl Doing With a Double Bed?
- Cathy’s Valentine Day Survival Book, How To Live Through Another February 14th (1982)
- It Must Be Love My Face is Breaking Out (1982)
- Eat Your Way to a Better Relationship (1983)
- Climb Every Mountain, Bounce Every Check (1983)
- Thin Thighs in Thirty Years (1986)
- Why do the Right Words Always Come Out of the Wrong Mouth (1988)
- $14 In The Bank and A $200.00 Face in My Purse (1990)
- Reflections, Fifteen Anniversary Compilation (1991)
I can go on and on. There are many other books and carton strips, which reflect on the joys of being Cathy. You can even have Cathy on a daily basis, if you decide to purchase the Cathy 2010 Calendar. If you looking for a few good laughs and some wise advice, in the significant areas of life, get some Cathy books, or a calender now.
For more information on Cathy Guisewite and her fantastic cartoon strip, Cathy, here are some links for you convenience.