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Marrying Irving is a metaphor coined by a participant in Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten's weekly online chat, "Chatological Humor" on February 8, 2005. The term specifically references the comic strip Cathy by Cathy Guisewite. On Valentine's Day, February 14, 2004 Irving, Cathy's long-time love-interest proposed marriage. They were married almost a year later on February 5, 2005; the strip, which had been in print since 1976, ended October 3, 2010.
This term indicates the specific strip or storyline in which a cartoonist uses a plot tactic or stunt that seems to run completely counter to the long-standing vision for the comic (in the case of Cathy, the strip for most of its existence had centered on the title character's struggles as a single, early-middle-age, slightly overweight woman). As such, fans and long-time readers may notice a decline in quality for subsequent comics, though this is not always true. Quality may remain adequate (or on-par with prior work) but the overall vision for the comic may be too drastically altered for it to retain its original attraction. It is the print comic and webcomic version of jumping the shark.
"Marrying Irving" moments in comics may be seen as desperate attempts to retain readers and newspaper distribution by completely breaking with tradition and/or creating a news-worthy event. They may be seen as "it's about time" events in a comic strip's course where an event, long-time avoided, is finally allowed to occur.
- Weingarten, Gene (8 February 2005). "Chatological Humor* (Updated 2.11.05)". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20121020191307/http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54186-2005Feb1.html.
- Chatological Humor, February 8, 2005
- Cathy and Irving, the Honeymoon Is Way Over WP Article by Hank Stuever, ran February 9, 2005.