Alison Bechdel Essay
Female comic creators made a great impact on the comic industry although they are not so many. They gained recognition since they have beginning to create comic novels. Women creators have worked an every genre from superheroes to romance, westerns to war, crime to horror. Their subjects of discussion have expanded as women’s role in society has changed. They are on pressure in the society because the model of women is determined by the society and they have to write like that. However women comic creators still have found mainstream or underground success telling the stories they want to tell.
This underground comic movement attracted women artists, as it allowed more mature themes and personal work than the commercial newspaper and comic book industry of the time. Underground comics are the self-published comics which are socially relevant and satire in nature. The underground market allowed for a more open depiction of sexuality and in the 70’s and 80’s openly lesbian and bisexual artists told their stories in comic book form, such as Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For and graphic novel Fun Home. Alison Bechdel is an American cartoonist who was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.
She interested in the underground comics and she began to write in this field. She is lesbian feminist artist and her works consist of the feminism and lesbianism movement. Her work, Dykes to Watch Out For, was one of the earliest ongoing representations of lesbians in popular culture. The strip mainly follows the life and times of a group of lesbian friends in an unspecified location in the USA. But as time passes, some straight and male characters are also introduced. The strip focuses on a wonderful group of counterculture friends, most of whom are lesbians.
And this book gathers a rich collection of the strips spanning from 1987 through 2008. This book also contains an introduction, also in comic form, about how Alison Bechdel came to spend her career writing this incredible comic. In the book, Bechdel Test is introduced which is used to identify gender bias in fiction. Many award-winning collections of Dykes were published in book form by an independent feminist press, and were translated into several languages. According to Bechdel, her strip was “half op-ed column and half endless, serialized Victorian novel”.
The op-ed column refers to the fact that they’re all highly engaged with the social and political issues of their time. The central character Mo Testa is a lesbian feminist who is always complain everything and Mo looks like Bechdel herself. The characters are political activist who rarely miss LGBT demonstration. LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. They debate how to combine their ideals and their lively days. They constantly analyze race and gender and how these impact their lives.
They work at domestic abuse shelters, or alternative bookshops, or as college professors, or as environmental layers. They feel betrayed when one of them gets involved with a man and then realize that this reaction goes again everything they believe in. They write theses on how literary representations of hypersexual lesbians and women of color contrast with their actual experiences of desire. And whatever else they’re doing, they never lose the ability to laugh at themselves. This work seems as a lesbian feminist novel, it is actually how very universal and how human it is.
Anyone who struggles to be the best person they can be and to live according to their ideals. They will probably be able to relate to these characters and their conflicts. Bechdel says in her introduction that her goal in writing the strip was, first of all, to make lesbians visible; and secondly, to “explode essentialism” by portraying them as complex and diverse human beings. She succeeded brilliantly Mo and company is nothing if not completely human. Her other work is Fun Home which is an example of underground comics.
It is a graphic memoir which chronicles the author’s childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, United States, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. The themes of work are sexual orientation, gender roles and family life. It includes photographing herself in poses for each human figure. Bechdel combine comics and memoirs in this book. Fun Home has been both a popular and critical success, and spent two weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. It was nominated for several awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and three Eisner Awards.
The memoir focuses on Bechdel’s family and the relationship between Alison and her father. Her father was a funeral director and English teacher. The book’s title comes from the family nickname for the funeral home. Her father’s two occupations reflect in the work focus on death and literature. Her father had homosexual relationship in the military and the high school. Her father was killed in the Sunbeam Bread truck however Alison Bechdel concludes that he committed suicide. She writes this novel as an autobiography and she tells everything about her father, their relationship and his death.
She keeps to the reality and she does not escape to telling the realities. She mentions her father’s homosexual aspect and she does not conceal this. The story is also deal with Alison Bechdel’s struggle to find her own sexual identity. She realizes that she is a lesbian and her coming out to her parents. The memoir frankly examines her sexual development, including transcripts from her childhood diary, anecdotes about masturbation, and tales of her first sexual experiences with her girlfriend, Joan. She and her father share their ideas about this situation and both of them express their dissatisfaction with their given gender roles.
In the Fun Home, there are so many themes but the biggest theme is sexual orientation. Bechdel tells her journey to finding her own sexuality in this book. Alison is not alone choosing her partner because her father is also homosexual. Bechdel and her father are in the same situation. One of them is lesbian and the other one is gay or bisexual. In the book, her mother discovers her husband’s situation and this makes the book as a tragedy. They have problems because of her father’s situation. Bechdel shows how people encounter some difficulties when they identify their sexuality.
However Bechdel and her father’s conversation reflect their respects to find the sexual identity. The other theme is death in Fun Home. Bechdel family always encounters the death because of the father’s job. Alison Bechdel reflects the death in the novel and she believes that her father’s death is not an accident. According to Alison Bechdel her father commits suicide because of his own sexuality or Alison’s sexuality. This is not clear in the book; it remains as an unclear death. Bechdel shows the death in two different aspects.
One of them is the job of her father and the other one is causing of her father’s end. The job combines with her father’s death. Moreover she combines his death because of his own sexuality. Being a homosexual causes her death and she does not believe his death as an accident because of this reason. She examines his death in the book and she reflect her views about his death in Fun Home. She uses some allusions in the novel and these allusions come from the Greek mythology and visual arts. The events of Bechdel’s family life during childhood and adolescence are presented through these allusions.
Bechdel questions whether her decision to come out as a lesbian was one of the triggers for her father’s suicide. Bechdel closely examines the connection between her father’s closeted sexuality and her own open lesbianism. Bechdel, as the narrator, considers her relationship to her father through the myth of Daedalus and Icarus. As a child, she confused her family and their Gothic Revival home with the Addams Family seen in the cartoons of Charles Addams.  Bruce Bechdel’s suicide is discussed with reference to Albert Camus’ novel A Happy Death and essay The Myth of Sisyphus.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 November 2016
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