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“Rhymes with Rectal” – Alison Bechdel

Since July is Queer Pride Month in Halifax, I wanted to blog about one of my favourite graphic novelists, Alison Bechdel, (the pronunciation of her last name, as she says on her website, “rhymes with rectal”). Two of her books are in the Library’s collection, Fun Home: a family tragicomic (2006) & The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (2008). Bechdel has published other autobiographical work, like The Indelible Alison Bechdel: confessions, comix, and miscellaneous dykes to watch out for (1999), in addition to her many collaborations with other authors & artists.

The Essential collection includes comics from all eleven of her previously published books with the addition of sixty new strips. The earlier books are themselves collections of the 250,000 strips published since1983 in fifty alternative newspapers & translated into a variety of different languages.

I’ve followed the exploits of the central characters – Mo, Lois, Sparrow, Ginger, Clarice, & Toni – ever since I came out twenty years ago. The little community Bechdel has created has changed a lot over the years. New characters have been added, relationships have begun & ended, even shifts in the sexuality & gender of some the strip’s characters are recorded, all with the author’s trademark sensitivity, intelligence, & humour.

A
lthough I’ve tried to get my hands on each book Bechdel has published, the Dykes to Watch Out for comics hold a special place in my heart. It was through Dykes that I first discovered the Queer community & it remains the most enduring connection to that community that I have maintained.

Work on Dykes was suspended in 2008 while Bechdel focused on a new graphic memoir, Love Life: A Case Study, which she has said will be about “the self, subjectivity, desire, the nature of reality, that sort of thing.” It’s due to be published in September of 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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