Cathy Guisewite is one of the most famous female cartoonists, and she is best known as the creator of the comic strip Cathy. This comic strip was the center of her career for 34 years, but after a break from her career, Cathy Guisewite has made a comeback with an exciting new venture. Although she studied English at the University of Michigan, Cathy Guisewite did not initially intend to enter a career in a creative field. In fact, her career began in advertising, following in her father’s footsteps. She worked for several companies before joining W.B. Doner & Co., where she was promoted to president in 1976.
Drawing cartoons was only a hobby for Guisewite at that time. She would draw funny pictures to help her cope emotionally. Although it was only a hobby, she showed talent and her mother persuaded her to send her comic strips to a publisher. She agreed only to stop her mother from going on about it as she did not intend that this would become her career. Therefore, it was something of a surprise when she was sent a contract to produce a comic strip. This led to ‘Cathy’ being syndicated to 66 newspapers. However, she did not immediately give up her career in advertising as she continued to work in the day and did her comic strip in the evenings.
The turning point came in 1980, by which time she was earning $50,000 annually as the comic strip was now published in 150 daily newspapers and other publications. She decided to quit advertising and moved to Santa Barbara, California. ‘Cathy’ was at its peak during the 1990s when it was published in over 1,400 newspapers. The comic strip was about the life of Cathy and the four main guilt groups in life; work, food, love, and family. Although it was a popular comic strip among women, there were times when it caused some backlash and controversy.
According to TV Tropes, fans were disgruntled when it was rumored that Cathy might marry her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Fans of the strip wanted her to remain a single woman as they felt they could relate to this character better as she was. Cathy did eventually marry Irving in 2005. The series only ran for another five years and the end of ‘Cathy’ was announced in 2010. In the last comic strip, on October 3, 2010, Cathy announced that she was pregnant with a girl.
Guisewite told The Washington Post about her decision to quit writing her comic strip. She explained that it wasn’t necessarily a decision to quit the comic world, it was more about needing to focus on her personal life. At the time, her daughter, Ivy, was in her final year of high school and both her parents were about to enter their 90s. She decided that it was time to concentrate on being a mother and a daughter. However, this gave her time to write, which was something she had wanted to do for some time. She concentrated her writing on the experiences of flitting between California and Florida to fulfill her family commitments. This was the beginnings of the book which would become the next chapter of Guisewite’s life.
In an interview with NPR, Guisewite talks about how people always assume that Cathy is her and that this is true in some respects. She explains that Cathy was her heart and other characters, such as Andrea, were her brain. The interview also discusses different attitudes and reactions to her comic strip. A lot of women could identify with Cathy/s insecurity and self-deprecating humor, but other people thought that the comic strip only served to highlight negative stereotypes of women. These negative responses were part of the inspiration behind Cathy Guisewite deciding to publish a book of essays called ‘Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years’. This is her comeback into the comic world, but she has taken the approach of writing a book rather than bringing back her comic strip.
The book contains 50 short essays, some of which respond to her critics and others that simply focus on her personal experiences as a writer, daughter, mother, and woman. Guisewite argues that it isn’t her fault that we still live in a world that prevents people from talking openly about the things that hold women back, although her critics disagree. On her website, Cathy Guisewite describes her career and the journey to where she is in her life now as miraculous, most of which has involved her using her comic strip to dump her aggravations for 34 years. Now, enjoys the freedom that has allowed her to fulfill her lifelong dream to write a book, which has given her the opportunity to put into words all the things she could not fit into her comic book.
Guisewite has received several honors and awards for her work in the comic industry. The first of these was an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. This was awarded to her in 1987 for the TV special of her comic strip that aired on CBS. In 1993, Guisewite was awarded the Rueben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year for her work the previous year. This was awarded to her by the National Cartoonist Society, of which she is a member. Further to these awards, Guisewite has also been granted three honorary degrees. These were from Eastern Michigan University, Rhode Island Collee, and Russell Sage College. In her personal life, Guisewhite has one daughter, Ivy, who she adopted in 1992 while she was still single. In 1997, she married Christopher Wilkinson, a screenwriter. Sadly, the couple divorced in 2010, the same year that Guisewite decided to end her comic strip.