Since 2016, the strip has been in the hands of the younger Saunders’ replacement as writer, Karen Moy, and artist June Brigman.
Mary Worth is therefore a prime example of what has been termed a legacy strip: a comic strip that has outlived (often literally) its original creators, and been passed along to new hands while maintaining continuity in syndication.
Some continuity strips have broken from past constraints.
Mary Worth is populated with people you love to hate.
“I do find that readers seems to enjoy the… wackier stories more?” [Mary Worth writer Karen] Moy told me. “I think Wilbur is a character that readers both love and hate. He’s kind of like George Costanza in Seinfeld, where readers are fascinated by him, but they can’t stand him. Some readers said that they would like to see him killed off three times a year. What fascinates people about this particular story is just Wilbur himself.”
Mark Trail took a 90 degree turn with both characterization and art.
In brisk tones, she had no hesitation about skewering some of the strip’s most durable characters. On Mark’s longtime love interest Cherry, [new Mark Trail writer/artist Jules Rivera] remarked: “Of all the characters, Cherry had the least personality other than ‘girl.’” On kid sidekick-cum-ward Rusty: “Rusty had always been treated as some weird pet child instead of a human boy.” On Mark Trail’s sex appeal: “Mark has always been a very sexy man. He’s just never been drawn by someone who knows what a sexy man looks like, or cares very much about sexy men. And I have certainly made plenty of friends with many, many sexy men.”
Even humor strips like Nancy have been revamped for the 21st Century.
Nevertheless, [current Nancy cartoonist Olivia] Jaimes’ editor, Shena Wolf, offered a sentiment that had, by now, become a familiar refrain in these interviews: Jaimes’ Nancy is “absolutely a sincere take on it,” she told me. “I think there will always be a segment of the audience that is laughing at characters, and this is going to be true for any property. I think that the majority of the readers who have found Nancy over the course of the Olivia Jaimes run have genuine affection for them. Olivia Jaimes is taking characters who are not designed to change (comic strip characters are eternal in their way) and tweaking them ever so slightly.
Mary Worth and Mark Trail © KFS; Nancy © UFS