|Born||September 10, 1960|
Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education|| Simon's Rock College |
Oberlin College (BA)
|Genre||Autobiography, social commentary|
|Notable works|| Dykes to Watch Out For ,|
Fun Home ,
Are You My Mother?
(m. 2004; voided 2004)
Holly Rae Taylor
Alison Bechdel ( /ˈbɛkdəl/ BEK-dəl;  born September 10, 1960) is an American cartoonist. Originally known for the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For , she came to critical and commercial success in 2006 with her graphic memoir Fun Home , which was subsequently adapted as a musical that won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.  In 2012, she released her second graphic memoir Are You My Mother? She was a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Award.  She is also known for originating the Bechdel test.
Bechdel was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Helen Augusta (née Fontana)  and Bruce Allen Bechdel. Her family was Roman Catholic. Her father was an army veteran who was stationed in West Germany. He was also a high school English teacher, working full-time and operating a funeral home part-time. Her mother was an actress and teacher. Both of her parents contributed to her career as a cartoonist.  She has two brothers, Bruce "Christian" Bechdel II and John Bechdel, a keyboard player who has worked with many bands including Fear Factory, Ministry, Prong and Killing Joke. Bechdel left high school a year early and earned her A.A. in 1979 from Bard College at Simon's Rock. She graduated with a degree in studio arts and art history in 1981 from Oberlin College.  After her father died in 1980, her mother sold the family house, in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, the small town where Bechdel grew up, and moved to Bellefonte, a less provincial small town near State College with her long-time partner Dr. Robert Fenichel. 
Bechdel moved to Manhattan during the summer of 1981 and applied to several art schools, but was rejected and worked in many office jobs in the publishing industry. 
She began Dykes to Watch Out For as a single drawing labeled "Marianne, dissatisfied with the morning brew: Dykes to Watch Out For, plate no. 27".  An acquaintance recommended she send her work to WomaNews , a feminist newspaper, which published her first work in its June 1983 issue.  Bechdel gradually moved from her early single-panel drawings to multi-paneled strips.  Dykes to Watch Out For began this process, developing into a series of posters and postcards, allowing for people to have a look into the urban lesbian community.  After a year, other outlets began running the strip.
In the first years, Dykes to Watch Out For consisted of unconnected strips without a regular cast or serialized storyline. However, its structure eventually evolved into a focus on following a set group of lesbian characters. In 1986, Firebrand Books published a collection of the strips to date.  In 1987, Bechdel introduced her regular characters, Mo and her friends, while living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dykes to Watch Out For is the origin of the "Bechdel test", which has become a frequently used metric in cultural discussion of film. In 1988, she began a short-lived page-length strip about the staff of a queer newspaper, titled "Servants to the Cause", for The Advocate . Bechdel has also written and drawn autobiographical strips and has done illustrations for magazines and websites. The success of Dykes to Watch Out For allowed Bechdel to quit her day job in 1990 to work on the strip full-time. 
In November 2006, Bechdel was invited to sit on the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.   In 2012, Bechdel was a Mellon Residential Fellow for Arts and Practice at the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center at the University of Chicago and co-taught "Lines of Transmission: Comics & Autobiography" with Professor Hillary Chute.  On April 6, 2017, Bechdel was appointed as Vermont's third Cartoonist Laureate. 
In 2014, she posted a comic strip based on her Fun Home! The Musical!  After Donald Trump's election as U.S. president she posted three new episodes of Dykes to Watch Out For: "Pièce de Résistance,"  "Postcards From the Edge,"  and "Things Fall Apart." 
Bechdel resides in Bolton, Vermont, and works with the Vermont-based alternative weekly Seven Days . 
In 2006, Bechdel published Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic , an autobiographical "tragicomic" chronicling her childhood and the years before and after her father's suicide. It follows both the past and present regarding the relationship she shares with her parents, specifically her father. Additionally, this graphic memoir helps show the hardships individuals face when coming out.  Fun Home has received more widespread mainstream attention than Bechdel's earlier work, with reviews in Entertainment Weekly , People and several features in The New York Times .  Fun Home spent two weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Nonfiction.  
Fun Home was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by numerous sources, including The New York Times,  amazon.com,   The Times of London,  Publishers Weekly ,  salon.com,  New York magazine,  and Entertainment Weekly . 
Time magazine named Alison Bechdel's Fun Home number one of its "10 Best Books of the Year." Lev Grossman and Richard LeCayo described Fun Home as "the unlikeliest literary success of 2006," and called it "a stunning memoir about a girl growing up in a small town with her cryptic, perfectionist dad and slowly realizing that a) she is gay and b) he is too… Bechdel's breathtakingly smart commentary duets with eloquent line drawings. Forget genre and sexual orientation: this is a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other." 
Fun Home was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award in the memoir/autobiography category.   It also won the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.  Fun Home was also nominated for the Best Graphic Album award, and Bechdel was nominated for Best Writer/Artist. 
In 2014, the Republican-led South Carolina House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee considered cutting the College of Charleston's funding by $52,000, the cost of the summer reading program for selecting Fun Home for a reading program.   
Fun Home premiered as a musical Off-Broadway at The Public Theater on September 30, 2013, and opened officially on October 22, 2013. The score was by Jeanine Tesori and the book and lyrics were written by Lisa Kron.   Kron and Tesori made history as the first all-woman team to win a Tony Award for best score.  Originally scheduled to run through November 3, 2013, the run was extended multiple times and the musical closed on January 12, 2014. The Public Theater production was directed by Sam Gold. Sets and costumes were by David Zinn, lighting by Ben Stanton, sound by Kai Harada, projections by Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg and choreography by Danny Mefford.  The musical played at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre, with previews from March 27, 2015, and an official opening on April 19, 2015, running to September 10, 2016. Sam Gold, who directed the Public Theater production, also directed the show on Broadway, leading the Off-Broadway production team. The Off-Broadway cast reprised their roles on Broadway, except for the actors playing John, Christian, and Medium Alison. The Broadway musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in Leading Role in a Musical, Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical. 
On January 3, 2020, it was announced that Jake Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories Productions banner secured the rights to adapt the musical version of Fun Home into a film. Sam Gold, who directed the Broadway production, is set to helm the film, in which Gyllenhaal will star as Bruce Bechdel. 
Bechdel suspended work on Dykes to Watch Out For in 2008 so that she could work on her second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama , which was released in May 2012.  It focuses on her relationship with her mother. Bechdel described its themes as "the self, subjectivity, desire, the nature of reality, that sort of thing,"  which is a paraphrase of a quote from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse .
The story's dramatic action is multi-layered and divides into a number of narrative strands:
An excerpt of the book, entitled "Mirror", was included in the Best American Comics 2013 , edited by Jeff Smith. This episode riffs heavily on psychoanalytic themes quoted explicitly from the work of psychoanalysts Alice Miller and Donald Winnicott.
Bechdel published another memoir The Secret to Superhuman Strength in 2021.
Bechdel came out as a lesbian at age 19.  Her sexuality and gender non-conformity are a large part of the core message of her work, and has said that "the secret subversive goal of my work is to show that women, not just lesbians, are regular human beings".  In February 2004, Bechdel married Amy Rubin, her girlfriend since 1992, in a civil ceremony in San Francisco. However, all same-sex marriage licenses given by the city at that time were subsequently voided by the California Supreme Court. Bechdel and Rubin separated in 2006.  She subsequently lived with her partner Holly Rae Taylor, a painter,  for seven and a half years before their marriage in July 2015.  She lives in Bolton, Vermont, in a house she bought in 1996, adding her own studio to work in.  
For her outstanding contributions to the comic art form, Comics Alliance listed Bechdel as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition. 
Dykes to Watch Out For was a weekly comic strip by Alison Bechdel. The strip, which ran from 1983 to 2008, was one of the earliest ongoing representations of lesbians in popular culture and has been called "as important to new generations of lesbians as landmark novels like Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle (1973) and Lisa Alther's Kinflicks (1976) were to an earlier one".
An autobiographical comic is an autobiography in the form of comic books or comic strips. The form first became popular in the underground comix movement and has since become more widespread. It is currently most popular in Canadian, American and French comics; all artists listed below are from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
Noreen Stevens is a Canadian cartoonist, who illustrated and wrote the lesbian comic strip The Chosen Family. Her work in the field of comics began in 1984. The Chosen Family is featured in the ensemble comic book Dyke Strippers: Lesbian Cartoonists from A to Z alongside the likes of Diane DiMassa and Alison Bechdel.
Stuck Rubber Babyis a 1995 graphic novel by American cartoonist Howard Cruse. He created his debut graphic novel after a decades-long career as an underground cartoonist. It deals with homosexuality and racism in the 1960s in the southern United States, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. While the book is not autobiographical, it draws upon Cruse's experience of growing up in the South during this time period, including his accidental fathering of a child, as referred to in the title.
Jane's World was a comic strip by cartoonist Paige Braddock that ran from March 1998 to October 2018. Featuring lesbian and bisexual women characters, the strip stars Jane Wyatt, a young lesbian living in a trailer in Northern California with her straight male roommate, Ethan, and follows her life with her circle of friends, romances, and exes. Shortly after celebrating its 20th anniversary, publication ended with Jane marrying Dorothy.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a 2006 graphic memoir by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, author of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It chronicles the author's childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, United States, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. The book addresses themes of sexual orientation, gender roles, suicide, emotional abuse, dysfunctional family life, and the role of literature in understanding oneself and one's family.
Firebrand Books is a publishing house established in 1984 by Nancy K. Bereano---a lesbian/feminist activist in Ithaca, NY. Karen Oosterhouse, publisher since 2003, describes Firebrand as "the independent publisher of record for feminist and lesbian fiction and nonfiction," championing "authors whose work has been marginalized: women of color, women coming out of poverty, transwomen, the genderqueer, and other underrepresented voices." It is among the many feminist and lesbian publishing houses that grew out of the Women's Press Movement; other presses of that period include Naiad Press, Persephone and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
Elizabeth S. "Lisa" Kron is an American actress and playwright. She is best known for writing the lyrics and book to the musical Fun Home for which she won both the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. Fun Home was also awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015 and the 2014 Obie Award for writing for musical theater.
Sydney Ellen Lucas is an American child actress with credits in musical theatre, film and television. She is best known for her portrayal of Small Alison Bechdel in both the original Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's musical Fun Home; she won an Obie Award and Theater World Award and received nominations for a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance. She most recently starred in the main cast of AMC's western drama television series The Son as Jeannie McCullough.
Kris Kovick was an American writer, cartoonist, and printer based in California.
Dyke is a slang term, used as a noun meaning lesbian and as an adjective describing things associated with lesbians. It originated as a homophobic slur for masculine, butch, or androgynous girls or women. Pejorative use of the word still exists, but the term dyke has been reappropriated by many lesbians to imply assertiveness and toughness.
Gay Comix is an underground comics series published from 1980–1998 featuring cartoons by and for gay men and lesbians. The comic books had the tagline “Lesbians and Gay Men Put It On Paper!”
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama is a 2012 graphic memoir written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel, about her relationship with her mother. The book is a companion piece to her earlier work Fun Home, which deals with her relationship with her father. The book interweaves memoir with psychoanalysis and exploration of various literary works, particularly Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.
The Ferro-Grumley Award is an annual literary award, presented by Publishing Triangle and the Ferro-Grumley Foundation to a book deemed the year's best work of LGBT fiction. The award is presented in memory of writers Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley. It was co-founded in 1988 by Stephen Greco who continues to direct it as of 2022.
Fun Home is a musical theatre adaptation of Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic memoir of the same name, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. The story concerns Bechdel's discovery of her own sexuality, her relationship with her closeted gay father, and her attempts to unlock the mysteries surrounding his life. It is the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. It is told in a series of non-linear vignettes connected by narration provided by the adult Alison character.
Hillary Chute is an American literary scholar and an expert on comics and graphic narratives. She is Distinguished Professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University. She was formerly Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago and an Associate Faculty member of the University’s Department of Visual Arts, as well as a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. She was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2007 to 2010.
Elizabeth Ann "Beth" Malone is an American actress and singer known for her work in Broadway, off-Broadway and regional theatre. She originated the role of Alison Bechdel in the musical Fun Home, for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Rupert Kinnard also credited as Prof. I.B. Gittendowne, is an American cartoonist who created the first ongoing gay/lesbian-identified African-American comic-strip characters: the Brown Bomber and Diva Touché Flambé. Kinnard is gay and African American.
Andrea Natalie is an American cartoonist. She is the creator of the Stonewall Riots collections and founded the Lesbian Cartoonists' Network.
Nicole Ferentz is an American cartoonist, illustrator, graphic designer, and teacher. Her works cover feminist themes, lesbian themes, and themes of illness. Her comics have been featured in prominent queer comics like Gay Comics.