September 08, 2005


The Wedding of Cathy and Irving. By Cathy Guisewite. Andrews McMeel. $12.95.

     Blondie and Dagwood got married 75 years ago, and remain in comfortable middle age (40-ish).  So, really, the courtship of Cathy and Irving, which led to marriage in only 28-plus years and which leaves comics readers with yet another comfortably middle-aged couple, is nothing unique.  Except for this: Cathy started as a chronicle and celebration of singleness, and Cathy Guisewite took the strip through all the up-and-down trends of being a single woman in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties before deciding, a few years into the new century, that enough was enough already.

     Whether you find cartoon Cathy’s marriage a joy or a betrayal will depend on what you think of the strip.  It can certainly be argued that the endearing neuroses that sustained Cathy for decades had begun to wear a bit thin recently, with week after week about the latest fad diet, shoe shopping, bathing-suit season, bad hair days, etc.  The strip in recent years had started to seem a bit…well…stale.  Shaking it up with the long-delayed wedding may (or, knowing cartoon Cathy and her creator, may not) be just what the strip needs.

     The Wedding of Cathy and Irving certainly tells you everything you could possibly have wanted to know about the tumultuous year leading up to the ceremony, as well as the wedding itself and its immediate aftermath.  An appendix of sorts traces some elements of the Cathy-Irving relationship back to its origin in 1976.  Through all these pages – 192 of them, more than in the usual Cathy collection – it is worth keeping in mind what Cathy tells Irving in one strip as they shop together despite his constant whining: “I always dreamed how romantic it would be to go Christmas shopping with a fiancé. …I dreamed how romantic it would be before…and I’ll remember how romantic it was after.  The only time it isn’t romantic is while we’re actually doing it.”

     Well, Cathy and Irving are actually doing it – getting married, that is – through all the meet-the-in-laws strips, the mom-as-wedding-planner strips, the fitting-the-wedding-gown strips, the bridesmaid strips, the hair-and-makeup strips, the get-the-dogs-together strips, and eventually the wedding and honeymoon strips.  It’s hard to pick highlights here, because the whole book is a highlight in the development of Guisewite’s strip – unless, of course, you think the whole wedding idea took the strip in the wrong direction, in which case the whole book is a mistake.  But readers might as well let Cathy and Irving settle into married life and watch what comes next.  That’s fodder for speculation: the ages of the two have never been stated, but strips have identified Irving as a baby boomer (so he’s at least 50) and Cathy as being “mature” or even, in her own word, “old” – which must mean 40-ish, like Blondie.  So what’s next?  Parenthood, maybe by adoption?  The dogs have puppies?  (Well, no – both are female.)  Changes in neuroses, or emergence of new marital ones?  Only cartoon and real-world Cathy know for sure.  It should be fun finding out.

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