If you’ve not read Alison Bechdel, start now
Chances are you know Alison Bechdel through the Bechdel Test, a simple heuristic to determine whether a piece of pop culture is gender biased or not. Or maybe you’ve read Fun Home, Alison’s deeply poignant graphic novel about her relationship with her father who lived a closeted life, and died soon after she discovered he was gay. Some of you may have enjoyed her syndicated cartoon strips Dykes to Watch Out For. Whatever your exposure to her work, there is no denying that she is one of the most exciting voices in pop culture today, and that’s why it thrills us to hear that she’s one of the recipients of this year’s MacArthur Grant.
If you want to find out more about Alison Bechdel, begin here:
1. A handy primer at Vox.
Bechdel’s works are introspective and personal. They are examples of how graphic novels and comic books can tackle serious themes and explore complex, chewy topics.
2. This wonderful in-depth interview at The Comics Journal where she talks about her work process, what parts of her life inform her comic strips, and so much more.
If I can quote my Dykes to Watch Out For character Sydney, “Family is a hallucination! A desperate compact people make with each other to stave off their own gnawing EMPTINESS!” I don’t precisely agree with her, but I’m in the same ballpark. I’ve never had the remotest desire to reproduce. I guess I feel a certain imperative to stop the madness.
3. The gorgeous “Ring of Keys” from the musical version of Fun Home, a play that may be Broadway-bound next season.
4. And finally, her own wonderfully bemused reaction to the idea of her winning the grant!
I heard from an 89 year old woman. My mortgage broker. Many, many cartoonist friends. Old friends I lived with in the Twin Cities in the 1980s. Friends of my parents! A cousin! A student! An old time dyke who said she was “crying tears of joy for how far society has come.” And Mary Bonauto, my fellow fellow, the MA attorney who also received a 2014 MacArthur for her tireless legal work for marriage equality.
We wish Bechdel all the best, and can’t wait to see what she does next!
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