Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Hillary Chute Interviews Alison Bechdel, 2011


Alison Bechdel, one of today’s most acclaimed living cartoonists, is the author of the serial comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, as well as the groundbreaking graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), a tightly architected investigation into her relationship with her father, an English teacher and mortician—as well as a closeted gay man—who died a few months after she herself came out to her family.  Fun Home made Bechdel an internationally renowned figure, and in 2009 she published the New York Times Book Review’s first book review in graphic format.  In spring 2012—when she will be a Mellon Residential Fellow for Arts and Practices at the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago—Bechdel will publish her second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother? (Houghton Mifflin).  This summer, University of Chicago English professor Hillary Chute visited Bechdel at her studio and home in Jericho, Vermont, to ask her about her new work, comics form and process, experiments in space and time on the page, and why her new work focuses on figures ranging from D.W. Winnicott to Virginia Woolf.  Bechdel was inking Chapter Three during the visit, which took place on August 24 and 25, 2011, and this interview offers an advance look at this hugely anticipated second book.