Franz has a nervous breakdown. Reinhold, Konrad, the Reaper Death.
January 1st, Click any of the smaller images to zoom in on them. A casual reader of the statement may come away with the impression that Cathy was the first syndicated comic strip by a female cartoonist.
In fact, that honor goes to Dale Messick, for Brenda Starr, beginning in But being the first at something is a powerful branding tool, and with enough qualifiers, anyone can be the first at something. Cathy is widely regarded as the first comic strip that spoke to a generation of working, struggling women in a voice that resonated as one of their own.
In the mids, Guisewite was a successful advertising copywriter with typical insecurites about her love life, her relationship with food and her weight, and the hassles and stresses of work.
She doodled little characters expressing her angst on letters to her mother, who pushed her to submit to syndicates. As she puts it: The character of Cathy was a young, single, independent woman with the same fears, uncertainties, and challenges as an entire generation.
Mom driving you nuts? Sincethe role of women in society has changed dramatically. She wages seasonal battles with the latest trends in swimwear, formal dress, and shoe fashions; she also fights herself internally, rarely motivating herself to exercise but often guiltily binging on snacks. Her endemic weakness for food, apparel, and tchotchkes makes her unremarkable at best and pathetic at worst.
And yet this sad figure is held up as a beacon of commiserative hope for women? Irving likes golf, gadgets, and against all odds, Cathy herself, despite the fact that she is a shrill, bitter harpy. Her one redeeming personality trait is her silence on how abjectly dull her husband is.
The preceding two comics were published three days apart, and yet they are diametrically opposed in terms of worldview. Can Cathy have it both ways?
Guisewite appears to remain on the fence about which female stereotypes she wants to indignantly shatter and which she wants to giddily indulge in. Can we diet away from our cake, but still eat it too?
You see, everyone alive today has problems. Some of us figure out how to get past them and not let them take over our lives. I am going to break form here and abstain from my usual habit of re-writing a specific comic strip.
I have no interest in making Cathy funny. I will, however, comment on a rather peculiar thing I found in my mailbox recently: Postal Service, as a way of educating postal customers about the many services available at your local post office. Seriously, a money order?
Modern Woman, take heed. Go on, insecure women of America; stuff your freaking face. Divorced by time and progress from whatever socially progressive message it may once have had, Cathy lives on as a cutesy, tape-it-to-your-cubicle strip that gives voice to the myriad ever-present annoyances that seem so very important but are really no more than the normal bumps on the road of every day.
What was once a novel voice of understanding to a generation finding its way is now a shrill whine that grates on the ears of a new generation.
Do you smell that, Cathy? I have been taken to task for shirking my Hippocratic oath and refusing to treat this patient. My initial opinion of the above comic was that it made no freaking sense.(Click any of the smaller images to zoom in on them.) A Universal Press Syndicate interview with cartoonist Cathy Guisewite calls Cathy “the first widely syndicated humor strip by a female cartoonist.” The transparent qualifiers “widely syndicated” and “humor” are not mere press-release puffery; they are, in fact, quite deliberate, for without those qualifiers, the statement is.
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Carly Hallman is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric (summa cum laude) from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She has worked as a curriculum developer, English teacher, and study abroad coordinator in Beijing, China, where she moved in In college, she was a Gilman Scholar and worked as a staff editor for her university's academic journal.
Outline of Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Page references are to Eugene Jolas's circa English translation of the novel, initially published as Alexanderplatz, Berlin; the edition used here is from Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.,New York (sixth printing, ).
Re possible reasons for passivism: my personal one is that I had tried activism a few times over the years, and it backfired in various traumatic and unexpected ways, even though my words and actions were indistinguishable (to me) from those taken by other, much more successful activists.