Dayton native Cathy Guisewite was the force behind a beloved cartoon character

For more than three decades beginning in the mid-1970s, Dayton-born cartoonist Cathy Guisewite entertained millions with her comic strip “Cathy.”

Relationships, swimsuit shopping and food were among the autobiographical themes confessed in the comic strip. Here are seven things to know about Guisewite and her work:

1. Beloved for decades. The "Cathy" cartoon first appeared in newspapers in 1976. At its peak, the comic strip was syndicated in 1,400 newspapers.

2. Mother knows best. The cartoonist started doodling self-portraits of her life and sent them to her mother, who prodded her to get them in front of a wider audience. Following her mother's advice, Guisewite submitted her drawings, and within a week she had a contract with Universal Press.

3. The very first. The first published strip was just three frames depicting "Cathy" deliberating what to say when she answered a phone call from a suitor who had broken her heart.

4. Ack! Guisewite and the character she created were intertwined in real life and in news print. The two shared the same frustrations, Guisewite told the Dayton Daily News in 1997: "It's those four basic guilt groups – food, love, mother and career."

5. Award winning. Guisewite has won numerous awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1987 and the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award, the profession's highest honor, in 1992.

6. The end and new beginning. The last "Cathy" cartoon appeared in newspapers Oct. 3, 2010. In the final frames the character and her husband, Irving, announced to her mother she was pregnant with a girl.

7. Readers weigh in. The Dayton Daily News held a contest to have the community help choose the replacement for "Cathy". From five finalists, readers selected "Stone Soup" by Jan Eliot.

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