Alison Bechdel's popular strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" was for years a countercultural staple in this paper and other publications across the country — until the Vermont-based cartoonist gave it up in 2008 to focus on writing graphic memoirs. Her first was Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Published in 2006, it was not only an award-winning best seller but the basis, several years later, for Fun Home the Musical.
Created by Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (score), the show debuted off-Broadway at New York City's Public Theater in October 2013. Two years later, a revamped version opened at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre. Enthusiastically received by audiences and critics, Fun Home took home five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, last year.
In the middle of this meteoric success, Bechdel was named a MacArthur Fellow — a recipient of the so-called "genius award." The 56-year-old cartoonist, who lives with her spouse, Holly Rae Taylor, in Bolton, remains modest and unassuming. But, like many Vermonters, Bechdel has been feeling distraught about the election results. While others have taken to the streets, Facebook and/or the liquor cabinet, she went back to the drawing board. And she emailed Seven Days to see if we'd be interested in publishing this strip.
Obviously, we said yes — and Bechdel said yes to a bonus cover cartoon, as well. Longtime fans who've missed DTWOF will no doubt be heartened to see, and read, her characters again. As was their creator.
"Working on it made me feel a little less awful," Bechdel said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the last year of DTWOF.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Cartoon Catharsis"
Alison Bechdel is the author of the graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. For 25 years, she wrote and drew the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.” She lives up a hill in Bolton. dykestowatchoutfor.com