KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The comic strip "Cathy," which has chronicled the life, frustrations and swimsuit season meltdowns of its namesake for more than 30 years, is coming to an end.
Cathy Guisewite, the strip's creator, said Wednesday that deciding to end the comic strip was "excruciating." The comic has won several awards, including a 1992 National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 1987, and at its height appeared in 1,400 papers.
"It's just been really unbelievably agonizing to make the decision," Guisewite said in a telephone interview from her home in the Los Angeles area. "The strip has not only been the most astonishing form of therapy for 34 years, but doing a daily comic strip for the newspaper set a certain rhythm for my life."
The final "Cathy" strip, will run in newspapers on Sunday, Oct. 3.
Guisewite, 59, said she chose to end the largely autobiographical comic strip because she wanted more time with her 18-year-old daughter and her parents and because "other personal deadlines started becoming more pressing for me than the newspaper ones."
She said her "creative biological clock" was also urging her to try something else, although she isn't sure what that will be.
The best part about writing the comic, "besides the personal therapy," she said, was how she was able to connect with women.
"It was just such a privilege to be able to be that voice for women," she said.
The comic strip also provided her with a great vehicle to vent, she said.
"You can go bathing suit shopping and come home and ... get back at the swimwear industry," Guisewite said.
Guisewite, who started writing comic strips at the urging of her mother, was first published in 1976 by Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate, now Universal Uclick.
Lee Salem, president and editor of Universal Uclick, said in a news release that the same day Universal received its first "Cathy" submission, the company sent a contract back to Guisewite.
"Seven months later, the strip began in newspapers," Salem said. While "Cathy" wasn't an immediate hit, it gained popularity. It's currently carried in about 700 newspapers, according to Universal Uclick.
But Guisewite said it did hurt each time a newspaper dropped "Cathy."
"But I know that my strip has had just an astonishing run," she said. "I have worked really hard to try to earn my space because I know that it's extremely special to be able to own that little chunk of the newspaper."