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,


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.

39 thoughts on “Which strips are best positioned to replace Cathy? (UPDATED)

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. “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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. “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.

  14. 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.

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