I want it on the record: I defended “Cathy” longer than just about anybody. It was certainly easy to see why people hated the strip, though. Couldn’t Cathy, after 30 years or so, get anything right? Technology flummoxed her. Weight loss was ever-elusive. Her boyfriend problems suggested frontal-lobe damage, or an utter lack of memory. But hey — it’s a comic strip. How many times has Dagwood flattened the mailman? You know.
The strip’s popularity has been skidding for years. Younger women find her contemptible and older women — to whom the strip was originally pitched, back when they were single and out there — have moved on, for crying out loud. My husband the features editor watched it plummet in our readership surveys, and I think my own paper dropped it awhile ago. I defended “Cathy” because I thought her dealing-with-the-saleslady strips approached a certain Zen truth about clothing and shopping, but even those have faltered, and really? I don’t even read the strip anymore. The moral of the story is: We can’t all be Lynn Johnston.
So I, like millions of other former readers, could easily have missed a major turning point for the whole strip, which passed Saturday: Irving proposed marriage, and Cathy accepted.