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Pleasure in Pride: Review of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Angela Bocage Jul 5, 2006

Fun Home By Alison Bechdel
Houghton Mifflin, 2006
Subgurlz By Jennifer Camper
Soft Skull, 2003

Stuck Rubber Baby By Howard Cruse
DC Comics, 2000
Alison Bechdel, known for her strip “Dykes To Watch Out For,” has just released her graphic novel, Fun Home. In supple language and a new graphic style, her justly acclaimed memoir tells the story of a daughter and her father with titrations of yearning and humor as precise as her inkwash. While part-time funeral director Bechdel pursued his avocations – literature and the lapidary restoration of their small-town 1800s Gothic Revival home – young Alison learned to hate the highmaintenance intricacy of the furniture and considers her father suspiciously lacking in manly virtues by way of the gunslingers and he-men on TV.

BechtelilloPrepubescent “Al” refused to wear frills, surreptitiously disposed of hair barrettes, played sports with her older male cousins, and grew up to come out as a lesbian where her father had lived his life in a stifling small-town closet. However, this is far from the kind of simplistic triumphal tale that dumps its Anchises unceremoniously.

The attention this queer graphic novel has been receiving doesn’t always find the best and most beautiful in this genre; another work of recent history, human failings, passion and feist, Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby deserves praise and a closer look. As the first out comics creator with the ’70s underground Barefootz, then the founding editor of Gay Comix, he should have a reputation beyond the queer comics cognoscenti.

Like Howard, Jennifer Camper has taken her art and vision where Bad Girls and Dangerous Women go – everywhere. You can still find Bad/Dangerous, the laugh-out-loud anthology of Camper’s greatest hits, but now the Lebanese-American artist is editing and contributing to her groundbreaking Juicy Mother anthology and doing spoken word (with projected comics!) about anti-Arab racism, male street harassment, and other matters. Juicy features some of the new cartoonists of color, on their own terms, and in Camper’s graphic novella, Subgurlz, the lusty underground protagonists were equally diverse. All of these comics are great Pride presents for your friends-fam of every orientation, and if you haven’t read them yourself yet – pleasure awaits.

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