Lawyer may have inspired 'Cathy' comic strip creator

by Tom Kirvan
Legal News

At its peak, the award-winning comic strip “Cathy” was published in more than 1,400 papers, making a star of its creator, Cathy Guisewite.

Perhaps Patrick McCauley, an attorney in Farmington Hills, can take some credit for that.

For a period of three years in the early ‘80s, McCauley and Guisewite were boyfriend-girlfriend, enjoying a long distance relationship that began when the “Cathy” namesake worked for the Doner ad agency in metro Detroit. She eventually left Doner to seek fame and fortune in California, beginning a more than 30-year run of the popular comic strip that chronicled “the life, frustrations, and swimsuit meltdowns” of the long-haired single woman.

McCauley, who was an up-and-coming attorney in Detroit at the time he began dating Guisewite, may have unwittingly served as the source of inspiration for some of the “Cathy” story lines appearing in the comic strip.

“Some of the strips were so similar to what we were going through that they couldn’t have been coincidental,” McCauley said with a smile. “They were clever and they were funny, and I couldn’t help but laugh at what she had drawn.”

He may have reserved his biggest chuckle for a strip that Guisewite drew especially for him in December 1984, after they had parted company in the pursuit of a lasting friendship that continues to this day. The story line of this specific strip involved some chit-chat between Cathy and her friend Charlene about the singles scene, particularly Cathy’s decision to ask a doctor out on a date.

“Charlene, get a grip on yourself,” Cathy said to her friend. “Bright, successful women do not leap up and down in the ladies room screaming, ‘He’s a doctor!’ anymore.”

Instead, after a pause, the pair decided there indeed was cause for celebration.

“He’s not a lawyer!!!” they screamed in unison.

Guisewite, who brought an end to “Cathy” in the fall of 2010 some 34 years after the strip was introduced, thought the “lawyer” episode deserved more than a word of explanation. She provided as much on December 6, 1984, four days before it was published.

“To all Friends, Peers, and Relatives of Patrick McCauley,” she said in a note. “The attached comic strip, scheduled to run 12-10-84, is in no way intended to be a reflection on Patrick McCauley, or on the artist’s view of same.

“This is merely a cheap shot at the abundance of lawyers in some communities, and a comment on some women’s view of them as dates; not this woman’s view, nor any woman she’s ever had the pleasure of gossiping with who has ever had P.B.M. (Patrick B. McCauley) as a date,” Guisewite wrote.

And like any heartfelt note, it warranted a postscript.

“P.S.: Patrick didn’t make me write this,” Guisewite added.