When Cathy Guisewite packed up her pencils and put the long-running strip Cathy out to pasture, something had to replace it. But what? Love it or hate it, Cathy was unique, so there was no obvious successor. At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner crunches the numbers and checks the press releases, and he figures the three strips that got the biggest boost from the empty slot were Dustin, by Steve Kelly and Jeff Parker; Stone Soup, by Jan Eliot; and Pickles, by Brian Crane
Gardner points out the obvious, that editors did not feel constrained to replace Cathy with a strip with a strong female lead (although Stone Soup more than fills the bill here, with not one but five smart, funny female characters). Dustin is about a twentysomething guy who live at home with mom and dad, while Pickles mines its humor from the daily doings of a couple who have been married for 50 years.
Here's something that's a little more consistent, though: The new strips that were launched this year seem to be doing very well, with five of the seven in the best-seller list. Gardner's conclusion: Launch your strip the same year a well known creator is retiring.