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Mary Worth’s staying power gets analyzed in Post Gazette

Mary Worth’s continued success despite often coming low in the popularity polls is not lost on Barry Alfonso, a journalist, who wrote an indepth analysis/tribute to the remarkable staying power of Mary Worth.

The slightly doughy but innately elegant Mary embodies a civility that is fading out of real life. Moreover, the very pace of the strip conveys something profound: that time is a variable concept, regulated by perception. In this sense, the comic strip “Mary Worth” is more interactive and transformative than the most cutting-edge IT entertainment. Stories take months or entire seasons to unfold; a single afternoon inside Mary’s condo complex can translate to a week’s worth of strips. The reader must slow down — almost on a metabolic level — to get in sync with the proceedings.

I suspect that Mary’s selflessly giving nature is directly related to the pacing of her strip. In her world, there is time for long pauses between thoughts and actions, to carefully consider the needs of others before offering the right words of advice or solace. There is time to linger at your front door if a neighbor is in trouble — who cares if the conversation drags on for a week or two?

All this goes against the grain of our age, of course. But I would suggest that reading “Mary Worth” can be a wake-up call as well as an act of daily meditation. We dismiss her at our peril.

Hat tip to Mike Lynch.

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