LGBTQ History

LGBT History Month: ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’ cartoonist Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel, Cartoonist
b. September 10, 1960

“The [comic] strip is about all kinds of things, not just gay and lesbian issues—births, deaths and everything in-between happen to everyone.”

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel is a celebrated cartoonist and author of the long-running comic strip, “Dykes To Watch Out For.” Her groundbreaking graphic memoir, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” was awarded the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book.

A native of central Pennsylvania, Bechdel and her siblings grew up in a small town. Her parents both taught at the local high school and her father, the subject of her first memoir, was the town’s mortician. Bechdel attended Oberlin College, where she graduated with a B.A. in 1981.

“Dykes to Watch Out For” was published in 1983 and became a syndicated comic strip in 1985. With her signature subtle wit, Bechdel took on the complex and often stereotyped world of lesbian relationships through her comic alter ego, Mo. The strip has become a cult classic.

In the late 1990’s, Bechdel began work on her first graphic memoir about her family, “Fun Home.” The memoir focuses on her relationship with her father and his death. Time Magazine honored “Fun Home” as No. 1 of the 10 Best Books of 2006, calling it “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.” The book won a Lambda Book Award, an Eisner Award and the 2006 Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award. It was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

“Dykes to Watch Out For” continued production for 25 years. In 2008, Bechdel suspended work on the award-winning comic strip to create a graphic memoir about relationships. The same year, Houghton Mifflin published a complete collection of her work, “The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For.”

Bechdel resides outside of Burlington, Vermont.

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