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Which strips are best positioned to replace Cathy? (UPDATED)

With the announcement that Cathy Guisewhite is retiring her comic strip Cathy after 34 years, a ripple of excitement was felt through the syndicated comic strip industry. There are a dozen 1,000+ client comic strips on the market right now. Very few of them will actually retire. So when Cathy exits the funny pages in October, the natural question is: how will this affect syndicated cartoonists?

I think the best response came from Tina’s Groove creator Rina Piccolo who tweeted yesterday after learning of Cathy’s impending retirement,

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS NEWS MEANS TO SYNDICATED CARTOONISTS? I SHOULD GO GET DRUNK NOW!!

Indeed. When that many slots in the newspaper becomes vacant, a large number of cartoonists are going to see an increase in clients. The question is which strips are the most likely candidates to fill the soon-to-be vacant slot?

If we learned anything from Bill Amend’s partial retirement back in 2007 was that just because a comic strip targeting a particular demographic retires, doesn’t automatically mean another like-demographic comic strips are going to take its place. The top selling comic strips that benefitted most from the end of the daily Foxtrot strip were not family strips, they were: Lio, Pearls Before Swine, and Pooch Cafe. Will Tina’s Groove, Between Friends, Pajama Diaries and other female centered strips gain papers? Absolutely. But will they be the big winners? Maybe.

The one variable that I see different now than when Foxtrot ended is the number of strips filling the female demographic. Most newspapers have a plethora of family based strips, so when Foxtrot retired, it wasn’t like a huge population of readers were not going to lose their dose of family centric amusement. There are many strips that target the females, but proportionally they’re not as many. Editors may feel more inclined to seek out another female oriented strip.

A couple of things that we can bet on. Editors are going to use this departure to run a near endless stream of comic trials to find a replacement. They can usually run comics in trial mode for free – so there is incentive to keep a trial going for months. The other thing is the best comics are going to come out on top – even if they hit another demographic. Editors want to an array of comics, but they also want popular strips. Having a strip that has a strong sales record is going to be key to pick up a lion-share of Cathy’s market.

If you feel like that describes your strip then take Rina’s advice and go get drunk. OR perhaps the smartest action right now is to wait until Oct. 2 and see how things settled and then either drink to celebrate or drink to drown unfulfilled expectations.

UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Universal Uclick. Cathy will not be offered as a rerun strip in print, but will for web clients.

Community Comments

#1 Rick Ellis
August/12/2010
@ 7:45 am

Pinkerton by Mike Witmer comes to mind as a replacement. It warm and sensitive and covers the same demographics as Cathy.
(http://talltalefeatures.com/pinkerton/)

#2 Jason Nocera
August/12/2010
@ 8:01 am

I think the best strip positioned to replace Cathy is “Classic Cathy.”

#3 August J. Pollak
August/12/2010
@ 8:09 am

What’s sad, Jason, is that’s probably what will happen in at least half the papers the strip’s currently running in.

#4 Ted Dawson
August/12/2010
@ 8:10 am

Agreed. No need to get excited until the syndicate announces it won’t offer reruns.

#5 Mike Cope
August/12/2010
@ 8:37 am

Like I commented after yesterday’s announcement … There aren’t many female-targeted features, so it’s time for certain sales reps to go on an “AACK!! Attack” :)

What’s interesting about the 3 excellent features that Alan mentions is that they’re all from the same syndicate, King Features, so Universal must have a backup plan if they intend to “keep” these papers.

Didn’t a feature called “Girl” win Comic Strip Superstar???

Hmm …

Nevertheless, I know who I’m rooting for!

#6 Mark_Tatulli
August/12/2010
@ 8:52 am

It is my understanding that CATHY will be going into complete retirement in print, no “Cathy Classics” in newspapers, just on the web.

I think that a lot of newspapers, given the current market, may not replace it with anything.

#7 Ben McCormick
August/12/2010
@ 9:26 am

It would be great if some fresh new talent were to make it into the papers with Cathy’s departure, but sadly I think Mark’s prediction will be the choice of many papers.

I’d like to see another female creator get the spot. With Lynn Johnston in semi-retirement and Guisewite leaving, it would be nice to see someone do like they did in the 70s and continue breaking new ground for women in comics.

Granted, there are a lot more women in comics today, but hearing a fresh voice might be nice.

#8 Stephen Beals
August/12/2010
@ 9:38 am

My first thought was “nothing”, too. But then I thought, “Hey, this is the opportunity Stan Lee’s Stripperella’s been waiting for!”

It would be nice to see Pajama Diaries or Tina’s Groove get some spots.

#9 Stephen Beals
August/12/2010
@ 9:40 am

Oops. Or Between Friends.

#10 Stacy Curtis
August/12/2010
@ 10:37 am

I’m finally going to benefit from having a GIRL’S NAME!

Sending a syndicate submission out today called, “Kathy.”

#11 Lucas Turnbloom
August/12/2010
@ 10:45 am

Cul de Sac

#12 Terri Libenson
August/12/2010
@ 11:49 am

On my way to the liquor store! Too soon?

#13 Joel Bader
August/12/2010
@ 11:57 am

To replace a space left by Cathy–and she should not pull a Charles Schulz or Brett Favre but leave the funny pages for good–I’d suggest one called Dustin. Or how about a new comic strip where all the characters are animals but act human (in the tradition of Pogo and Shoe)?

If it has to be geared towards women–the comment about Between Friends sounds good. Or the syndicators and editors could try some unknowns. The comic pages have been too stagnant. It’s time for change.

#14 Betty Johnson
August/12/2010
@ 11:57 am

I would recommend “The Pajama Diaries”. The strip is awesome. At times I think my husband is supplying Ms Libenson with content right from our house (or bedroom)- she really nails how crazy I can be. The creator not only ricks the art, but her art work is exceptional. She has my vote!

#15 Terri Libenson
August/12/2010
@ 12:06 pm

Thanks, Betty! You made my day. But I think any of the mentioned strips are great.

#16 Steve Skelton
August/12/2010
@ 12:11 pm

Yes, I have the privilege of reading Pajama Diaries in my local paper everyday. It is great. I especially loved the jewelry party one today, Terri.

That said, I have a couple of lady characters in my strip who are going to have a tough time fitting into their swimsuits.

#17 Gerry Mooney
August/12/2010
@ 12:14 pm

Hey Stacy, I was gonna post that joke!

#18 Jan Eliot
August/12/2010
@ 12:24 pm

It’s never too soon to start drinking in cartoon world.

#19 rina piccolo
August/12/2010
@ 12:43 pm

Anyone want to join me for some hair of the dog after tonight’s MoCCA panel?

#20 Ed Power
August/12/2010
@ 12:58 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb here: I say the strip to benefit from ‘Cathy’s retirement hasn’t even come out yet. It will be a ‘period peice’ comedy strip (ala Hagar or Wizard of Id) about life in the Donner Party and will be called ‘What’s for Donner?’

Either that or Stacy Curtis’s ‘Kathy’.

Good luck to both.

#21 David Jones
August/12/2010
@ 1:03 pm

I’d love to see a new, unheard of strip take it’s place. Just not a big chance in that! I do like seeing some of the older strips step down so us newbies can get a shot. At the same time, I hate seeing these classics leave us.

#22 Costa Koutsoutis
August/12/2010
@ 1:21 pm

A strip that papers should pick up to fill the space (if they don’t already run it) is Jan Eliot’s “Stone Soup”, which I have been loving recently.

#23 chris sparks
August/12/2010
@ 2:19 pm

I think the only choice for a female role model is Alice from Cul de Sac!

#24 Megan T.
August/12/2010
@ 2:51 pm

Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott

#25 Charles Brubaker
August/12/2010
@ 3:25 pm

I would pick…

“Dog eat Doug” by Brian Anderson
“Retail” by Norm Feuti
“Cul de Sac” by Richard Thompson

Off the top of my head…

#26 Larry Levine
August/12/2010
@ 3:53 pm

“Chippy & Loopus” by John Sanford
“Lewis & Cluck” by Bill Riling

#27 Andy Y..
August/12/2010
@ 4:01 pm

“Aw Prunes” By Larry Levine and Lynn Welkey
“Take it from Circus” By Bill Bettwy
“Kiskaloo” by Chris Sanders
Reruns of ‘Bloom County” By Berke Breathed

#28 Denise Reukauf
August/13/2010
@ 4:23 am

I am an avid fan of the comic pages…
I would pick:
“The Pajama DIaries” by Terri Libenson
“Tina?s Groove” by Rina Piccolo
?Retail? by Norm Feuti

#29 Milt Priggee
August/13/2010
@ 11:40 am

REPLACE Cathy…?!?!?
Why would a newspaper would want to ‘replace’…and lose this financial gift that just fell into their lap….?
This is one of the few times that a newspaper can rid itself of a feature without any personal responsibility, expensive content they don’t like and don’t want.
Guisewhite’s decision to retire Cathy just made a lot of bean counters very happy.

#30 Steve Skelton
August/13/2010
@ 12:12 pm

“Why would a newspaper would want to ?replace??and lose this financial gift that just fell into their lap?.?”

To publish, along with all the horrid news of the day, a morsel of microentertainment that by its very nature is designed to intrigue the reader into seeing the humor in themselves and the world we live in. To keep people buying subscriptions.

#31 Garey Mckee
August/13/2010
@ 5:49 pm

Toby Robot Satan!

Infact, I predict in the last Cathy strip, in an extreme cross over event, Toby impregnates Cathy with some sort of horrible digital satanic aparatus thereby creating an army of robot dieties bent on spreading chaos. Making it quite a natural transition to Toby replacing the strip in hundreds of newspapers.

#32 JGMoore
August/14/2010
@ 8:03 am

It’s sad that no female cartoonist will get her spot.
Imho, a female cartoonist should get that spot.

#33 patty leidy
August/15/2010
@ 10:01 am

well………..it’s not ME!

:( hahahaha

#34 Andy Y..
August/16/2010
@ 2:41 pm

Pogo Classics by Walt Kelly.

#35 Alex Hallatt
August/16/2010
@ 7:36 pm

Dammit, I’m going to have to change my name to a more feminine one…

#36 David T.
August/31/2010
@ 2:29 pm

Imagine This! By Lucas Turnbloom

#37 Lucas Turnbloom
August/31/2010
@ 3:29 pm

HAHA! Oh, David. You so crazy!
…but thanks for that.

#38 Corey Pandolph
August/31/2010
@ 3:41 pm

Garey McKee: Loyal TOBY minion.

#39 David T.
September/10/2010
@ 10:49 am

Lucas,

I’m not kidding. I LOVE your strip!

David

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