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The Essential Dykes to Watch Out Forby Alison Bechdel
"Before she made her name with the acclaimed graphic novel memoir Fun Home, Alison Bechdel spent two decades writing and drawing the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which appears in several alt-weekly and gay newspapers....Dykes works on multiple levels. Like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, it functions as both a time capsule and a chronicle of a community under siege." Chris A. Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Fun Home — the lives, loves, and politics of cult fav characters Mo, Lois, Sydney, Sparrow, Ginger, Stuart, Clarice, and others.
For twenty-five years, Alison Bechdel's path-breaking "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip has been collected in award-winning volumes (with a quarter of a million copies in print), syndicated in fifty alternative newspapers, and translated into many languages. Now, at last, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For gathers a "rich, funny, deep and impossible to put down" (Publishers Weekly) selection from all eleven "Dykes" volumes.
Here too are sixty of the newest strips, never before published in book form. Settle in to this wittily illustrated soap opera (Bechdel calls it "half op-ed column and half endless serialized Victorian novel") of the lives, loves, and politics of a cast of characters, most of them lesbian, living in a midsize American city that may or may not be Minneapolis.
Her brilliantly imagined countercultural band of friends — academics, social workers, bookstore clerks — fall in and out of love, negotiate friendships, raise children, switch careers, and cope with aging parents. Bechdel fuses high and low culture — from foreign policy to domestic routine, hot sex to postmodern theory — in a serial graphic narrative suitable for humanists of all persuasions.
"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 Bechdel's 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 isn't one whose Bechdel-illustrated bags under her eyes were not hard fought for and hard won." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The greatest lesbian soap opera...[A] miraculously well-sustained chronicling of a circle of friends over the course of 20 years....Fun Home has brought her much greater general attention than 'Dykes' ever did, but make no mistake — the strip is her masterpiece." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[I]n some ways [these strips] offer greater consolations [than Fun Home] — they're looser, more funny, and they offer the chance to watch a group of very appealing women grow and change (and struggle to have better sex) over the course of more than two decades....It crackles with one-liners." Dwight Garner, The New York Times
For 25 years Bechdel's path-breaking "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip has been collected in award-winning volumes, syndicated in alternative newspapers, and translated into many languages. This collection gathers 60 of the newest strips.
About the Author
Alison Bechdel has been a careful archivist of her own life and kept a journal since she was ten. Since 1983 she has been chronicling the lives of various characters in the fictionalized "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip, "one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period" (Ms.). The strip is syndicated in 50 alternative newspapers, translated into multiple languages, and collected into a book series with a quarter of a million copies in print. Utne magazine has listed "DTWOF" as "one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century."
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