Alison Bechdel: Fun Home


Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

If you don't know Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, you're really doing yourself a disservice; if you don't check out her new book Fun Home, you're compounding that error. In contrast to Bechdel's tightly focused twelve-page coming-out story from Gay Comics (reprinted in The Indelible Alison Bechdel), Fun Home is a fully fleshed-out autobiographical tale. The story of her coming-of-age and coming out is told alongside her family life and her (closeted) father's apparent suicide.

Rather than the scratchy art of the early Dykes strips, Bechdel here augments her more confident linework with some subtle tonal gradations--to great effect. The identical composition of these panels shows some of her artistic growth from 1993's "Coming Out Story" (Gay Comics #19) to Fun Home's version of the same event:


Due to her father's job as a high-school English teacher, literature is a constant feature of Bechdel's tale: from Daedalus and Icarus to Shakespeare, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Proust, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Camus. This passage of Bechdel and her father bonding over books (p. 204) is one example:


Bechdel's art is as wonderful as her ear for narration and dialogue. The way she layers them in this book make it a perfect example of the type of stories that can be told best in the graphic novel medium. Her work deserves the appreciation of a broader audience, and Fun Home looks to be her ticket out of the "gay ghetto."


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