LOS ANGELES (CAP) - In what some fans are calling an ill-advised collaboration, the popular Cathy comic strip will come to an end after 34 years with the funny page's most popular neurotic singleton being eaten alive by prehistoric piranhas.
The plotline is a tie-in with the Dimension Films movie Piranha 3D, which is slated to be released on DVD to coincide with the last Cathy strip this October.
"Cathy finally finds a bathing suit that she doesn't think makes her look fat, and the first time she wears it in public she's eaten by piranhas," explained Jon Garson, managing editor of the Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Cathy. "Get it? It's ironic."
Although the syndicate and Cathy creator Cathy Guisewite are rumored to be pocketing more than $1 million each from Dimension Films in exchange for the Piranha tie-in, many fans of the strip are crying foul.
"It's completely unrealistic," said Sharon Fensworth, president of the Official Cathy Fan Club since 1998. "Cathy would never find a bathing suit she doesn't think makes her look fat."
At her Los Angeles studio, Guisewite previewed the final panel, in which Cathy emits one last trademark "ACK!" as the deadly piranhas pull her under the surface.
"It's a Sunday [strip], so you'll be able to see the blood bubbling up under the water," noted a clearly haggard Guisewite, who some say accepted the Piranha deal because of heavy debts she incurred during years of compulsive gambling and drug abuse. If true, it's a history she shares with many other troubled comic strip artists, like admitted heroin addict Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse) and Ernie Bushmiller (Nancy), who infamously died in 1982 when his transvestite lover's nitrous oxide tank exploded in a back room at Manhattan's Studio 54.
As for the controversy over the Cathy ending, it hearkens back to the uproar in 2005 when Cathy finally married her on-again, off-again boyfriend Irving, which prompted the strip's single, overweight female fan base to take to the streets by the thousands, burning effigy Irvings and chanting "Stupid Irving's Not Deserving!"
Several of them even took to looting, breaking the windows to a Chicago Lane Bryant store and running off with more than a dozen pairs of size 28 knit leggings.
Garson, of Universal Press, admitted that some fans might have a problem with the Cathy ending, but he did note that prior to eating Cathy, the piranhas also disembowel Irving in graphic detail.
"Now, that's a concept I can get behind," said fan club president Fensworth. "Stupid Irving."
Meanwhile, if nothing else, the unorthodox ending will make comics history, said comic strip historian Sol Friedberg of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, in that it will be the first Cathy strip not to feature Cathy feeling guilty about eating a donut, or getting an annoying phone call from her mother.
- CAP News Staff