Known as the first soap opera comic strip
, Mary Worth
was created by Allen Saunders and Ken Ernst as a replacement to the Martha Orr's popular Apple Mary strip
. Debuting in 1938
, the strip focuses around the characters who come in and out of Mary's life. Mary herself is described as an "widow of independent means", fond of quoting proverbs
and dispensing advice.
The strip is now written by John Phillip Saunders (who also does Steve Roper-Mike Nomad) and drawn by Joe Giella, who also worked on Batman, Flash Gordon, and The Phantom. Mary Worth has focused on such topics as teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, and juvenile delinquency. Current characters include:
Mary Worth - the widow of independent means. A former teacher born in Jennings, Ohio, the sixty-something-year-old Mary was married to a Wall Street tycoon who left her a portfolio providing a manageable if not outlandish income. She is currently the unofficial manager of the Charterstone Condominium Complex in Santa Royale, California, where she also volunteers at the local hospital.
Toby Cameron - a close friend of Mary, she is the second wife of Professor Ian Cameron. When she isn't working her craft as an artist specializing in miniatures, she can usually be found gossiping in Mary's kitchen.
Ian Cameron, Ph.D. - Scottish-born professor of English Lit at the University of California at Santa Royale, and resident expert on everything. Suffers from 'The Hemingway Complex', according to his bio at King Features Syndicate.
Jefferson Cory, M.D. - the latest recurring character, Jefferson is the former chief of staff at the hospital Mary volunteers at, but now helps his children at their family clinic. Recently widowed, he hopes to win the affection of Mary.
Contrary to popular belief, there does not appear to be a Mary Worth in which she advises a friend to commit suicide
. Such a strip would be a rare prize indeed.