Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: Suburban Cowgirls
Suburban Cowgirls should have been a bigger hit than it was. Positioned in the chick-strip genre about halfway between the vapidities of Cathy and the outright snarkiness of Sylvia, Suburban Cowgirls should have been eminently appealing to the vast middle-aged female audience.
The strip stars Max, an attractive frizzy-haired thirty-something with two kids and a job as a radio personality at WMOM, "the radio station that rocks the hand that rocks the cradle." She and her co-stars fight all the typical day-to-day battles waged in suburbia -- raising kids, juggling work with family, making ends meet. Suburban Cowgirls hits all the right notes to appeal to the same crowd that made Baby Blues a runaway hit while featuring slightly edgier and layered characters who make more of an impression.
The strip was created by Janet Alfieri, writer, and Ed Colley, artist, for the small Memorial Press Group newspaper chain in Massachusetts; it first appeared on Thanksgiving Day 1987. Once the pair had gotten their feet wet in the chain's few papers they submitted their strip to syndicates and were picked up by Tribune Media Services. The strip went national on October 1 1990 as a daily and Sunday strip.
The strip looked like it was taking off quite well; it was picked up immediately by some big papers, and book collections were published in 1992 and 1993. For reasons unknown the strip could never seem to reach the next level, though, and the client list didn't seem to grow. Finally sometime in 1999 the feature was put out to pasture. Alfieri continued as a newspaper writer and Colley as an editorial cartoonist for the paper chain at which Suburban Cowgirls was created.
My 1999 end date is based on Colley's self-written bio in "Attack of the Political Cartoonists". There he states that the strip ran until 1999. I don't have samples even from '98 so I'm just going off of what he says. The strip certainmly did seem to drop off in popularity in those last years. Anyone got a definitive end date to share?
THe Post kept on running the strip even though they dropped Funky Winkerbean and FoxTrot (because the editor didn't want to see the word HELL in a comic strip)
during SG's Post run. It would have been interesting to see how much interest Lisa's cancer story would have gotten here had Funky remained.