Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goodbye, Cathy comic

There was a point in my life when Sundays weren't spent stressing over work or nursing the side effects of a poorly mixed margarita.

And on those Sundays, I read the "funnies" with my mom.

Perhaps our term for the comics wasn't entirely accurate. We spent most of the time scratching our heads and trying to figure out if we'd missed some hidden punchline. Usually, the answer was no.

But the Cathy comic -- which ends its run today -- usually bucked the trend.

I won't lie: I didn't always "get" it. But the weekly installments were brief and to the point. Plus, whether you loved her or hated her, creator Cathy Guisewite was consistent.

The title character Cathy fretted over things like body image and dating. Progressive? Not exactly, and part of me agrees with the feminists who are glad to see Cathy go.

But Cathy's overall approach -- navigating life through self-deprecation -- is worth remembering.

A Washington Post health blogger discusses the concept here, noting "perhaps there's something about a little humorous self-deprecation that carries us through the roughest patches, when we feel so disappointed in ourselves for not being in better control of our weight."

True, there's a fine line between gentle self-deprecation and overdosing on self-hate through humor.

But unfortunately, most of us entirely avoid the life approach much too often.

Which makes it difficult a new joke in your favorite comic strip's absence.

(Click here for my colleague Dawn Minty's thoughts on Cathy.)