Creator of Cathy Comic Is a 'Paradox'

The Cut profiles Cathy Guisewite, who ponders the meaning of 'AACK!'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2019 6:30 PM CDT
Updated Mar 31, 2019 12:53 PM CDT
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That's Cathy and Irving.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Fans of the Cathy comic strip—and critics of it as well—may want to check out a profile of creator Cathy Guisewite at The Cut. Writer Rachel Syme sees the 69-year-old Guisewite as a "paradox." After all, few women were in the field when Cathy first appeared in 1976, and its huge success turned Guisewite into a "pioneer"—a female creator of a popular comic that was geared toward other women. "And yet Guisewite broke through the glass ceiling by creating a character for whom disempowerment was a way of life," writes Syme. That is, Cathy the character, famous for her cry of "AACK!," often worried about things such as her weight and dating. And when the strip ended in 2010, younger women especially dished out some scorn. Syme suggests it's unfair.

"It would be easy to dismiss Guisewite from across the generational chasm, as simply a by-product of her time, but Cathy’s struggles aren’t quite as far from our own as we’d often like to think," she writes. "Women may have more nuanced language for how they talk about the distance between what they choose to project and how they feel on the inside, but two minutes on Instagram is enough to prove that generating authentic confidence is still a confounding process." Cathy wanted much from life, and Guisewite sees that as her enduring trait. "She kept trying," she says. "I think that’s her relevance today. She was a very resilient character.” As for "AACK!," Guisewite says she can't remember how the catchphrase surfaced and struggles to explain it. "It's just how you feel, isn't it?" Syme helps: For Guisewite, the phrase is all about "the confusion of being a woman." Read the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)

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