On publication in 2006, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home was hailed as one of the masterpieces of the graphic form. Time magazine chose it as the best book of that year and critics on both sides of the Atlantic praised it for its emotional complexity and the seriousness of its writing. Nick Hornby called it 'as satisfying a literary experience as you are likely to have this year'. Long before Fun Home, however, Alison Bechdel had been chronicling the lives of a small universe of cartoon characters in her strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which is syndicated in fifty alternative newspapers in the USA and has been published in eleven volumes. Now, at last, The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For gathers the best of those volumes, together with sixty of the newest strips. Bechdel's brilliantly imagined counter-cultural band of friends - academics, social workers, booksellers - fall in and out of love, negotiate relationships, raise children, switch careers and cope wtih aging parents. The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For fuses high and low culture - from foreign domestic policy to domestic routine, postmodern theory to hot sex - in a serial graphic narrative 'suitable for all humanist persuasions'.
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Alison Bechdel is the author of the bestselling memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times and People, among others. For twenty-five years, she wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a visual chronicle of modern life - queer and otherwise - considered 'one of the pre-eminent oeuvres in the comics genre.' Alison Bechdel is guest editor of Best American Comics, 2011, and has drawn comics for Slate, McSweeney's, Entertainment Weekly, Granta, and the New York Times Book Review. http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. This ongoing comic strip chronicles the lives of a tight-knit group of lesbian friends over an astounding 21 years of life, work, love, boredom, political activism and countless reversals of fortune. At its heart are six women: the promiscuous Lois, a feminist bookstore clerk with a penchant for gender-bending; her two roommates, the overworked academic Ginger and self-identified bisexual lesbian Sparrow; their domestically partnered friends Clarice and Toni; and Mo, who despite (or perhaps because of) her frequent politically charged outbursts of neurosis is the hub of her circle. These characters, flawed but endearing, are brought to life by Bechdels quirky artistic sensibility. Facial expressions are carefully nuanced, and she seems to take great joy in using small details to differentiate emotions. Late in the collection, when a character receives treatment for cancer, a tiny caret in her cheek is enough to transform her from a fresh-faced mischief-maker into a sallow and frightened chemo patient. What cannot be overemphasized is the sheer scope of the collection, which follows these women from idealistic young adulthood to contentedly disillusioned middle age and, for some, parenthood. All eventually end up a little more haggard than they began, but there isnt one whose Bechdel-illustrated bags under her eyes were not hard fought for and hard won. (Nov.)
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