Talking with Alison Bechdel
The cartoonist's new book ''Fun Home'' may bring her into the spotlight
”I’m a shelving problem!” says Bechdel, the 45-year-old creator of the nationally syndicated comic Dykes to Watch Out For. The cartoonist’s collections are usually stashed in the gay and lesbian section at stores rather than alongside more mainstream graphic novelists. But with Fun Home, her mordant new work about her dysfunctional family, Bechdel may finally stretch beyond her niche audience.
Inspired by Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Fun Home took seven years of draining work. With NPR on in the background and her cat, Julia, by her side, ”work, eat, sleep” was Bechdel’s routine. ”It’s compulsive behavior, writing a graphic novel,” she says. ”You’re not only sitting at your computer and writing, then you’re hunched over your drawing board like a monk. Who would do that?!”
A glutton for punishment, Bechdel’s already eager to get started on another graphic memoir. ”I’m very self-involved,” she says. ”The thing I’m most interested in, I have to say, is myself. So why not?!” But she may take a moment now to read Running With Scissors, that infamous tale of woe by Augusten Burroughs, to whom she has been compared. ”My mother keeps telling me about how his [surrogate] family is suing him,” jokes Bechdel. ”I’m wondering if that’s a veiled threat.”