Saturday, October 6, 2012

Alison Bechdel and Judith Thurman

As I noted a few posts ago, I am a big fan of comics (or graphic novels; I have such a hard time with which term to use). This afternoon I had the great opportunity to see two personalities I admire in conversation.

I came to Dykes to Watch Out For late in life: far after it had been syndicated across the country and just before its run ended in the late 2000s. I never read it regularly but I did end up finding an anthology a few years after its run that I quite enjoyed. It`s got a soap opera quality to it: like Will & Grace and Queer as Folk and R Crumb all rolled into one. It`s got a normalcy that easy to relate to yet for me it contains a distance that makes it compelling and exotic.

Are you my mother
Bechdel`s two post-Dykes memoirs are tales of her family: Fun Home about her father and the latest, Are You My Mother, about her relationship with her mother. Bechdel really pushes the limits of what graphic novels can and should do. As she noted in her discussion this afternoon, she is interested in how comics can represent the internal lives of characters (as they have so long been focused on action or external lives). And her works do what good movies do: tell stories in a way that you forget the form or the attractiveness of the medium and just let the story overtake you.

Thurman is an amazing writer though I wonder how well-suited she was to Alison Bechdel`s on stage personality. Bechdel leans toward being an introvert, it seems to me, and Thurman likes the cerebral idiom frequently: lots of questions that seemed to be to esoteric and far too psychological for the subject herself to address (questions of `the other`etc etc don`t seem to be very instructive when discussing comics with the artist. That`s not to suggest that Bechdel isn`t amazingly charming and bright but there is a highly pragmatic aspect to her approach as an interview subject).

Excellent questions from the audience: about color choices, about comics a form geared at a society becoming less (traditionally) literate, about the presence of Dykes in today`s queer culture.

Great show overall and I definitely have Bechdel`s two memoirs at the top of my reading list for the fall.

from Dykes to Watch Out For

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