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5 Things To Know About Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, Winner Of A MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Alison Bechdel

There are plenty of people in the world who get nice things that they don’t (IMHO) deserve. So it’s especially nice when someone completely and utterly deserving is recognized for their greatness. I felt all the warm and fuzzies this morning when I heard on the news that the cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel is a 2014 recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant,” one of the world’s most prestigious prizes. Bechdel draws the popular LGBTQ comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For and is the author/illustrator of the memoirs Are You My Mother? and Fun Home, the latter of which is one of the most esteemed books in the graphic novel genre (and a favorite of mine).

As a winner of the “Genius Grant,” which is awarded to between 20 and 40 individuals who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work,” Bechdel will receive upwards of $625,000 paid out over five years. The intention is for winners to use the prize money to continue doing their good work. Past winners have included people like “The Wire” creator David Simon, authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adihie, Junot Diaz and Edwidge Dandicat, and critic Susan Sontag.

After the jump, here are five things to know about Alison Bechdel, her cartoons and her important mark on pop culture! Keep reading »

“Fun Home,” Gay-Themed Play Based On Alison Bechdel Memoir, Performs In South Carolina & Miraculously No One Was Converted To Homosexuality

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Back in February, some jerk politicians in South Carolina threatened cut the College of Charleston’s budget because they didn’t like the books that freshman were assigned to read for 2013 orientation. Those books were Out Loud: The Best Of Rainbow Radio, which tells the story of South Carolina’s first LGBT radio show, a Fun Home, a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. Legislators advanced bills that would cut funds in the amount that was spent on implementing the orientation’s reading campaigns.

This week, the off-Broadway cast of “Fun Home,” a new show based on Bechdel’s (amazing) 2006 memoir about being the lesbian daughter of a closeted gay father, performed to sold out audiences at the school’s Memminger Auditorium. “Fun Home” the play was recently named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Miraculously, no one who attended the performances has suddenly become came. It’s still early yet, though. Keep reading »

RIP Society: South Carolina Wants To Pull Funding From Colleges For Teaching “Gay” Books

south carolina gay books

South Carolina legislators are trying to “punish” two colleges in the state for assigning books they don’t approve of. The College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate incorporated “books on homosexuality” as required reading as part of their new student orientation. The books in question are Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir Fun Home, about the lesbian author’s father and his struggle with homosexuality, and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, which tells the story of South Carolina’s first LGBT radio show.

To exact revenge on the institutions, state House legislators have “tentatively approved” a bill to cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston and $17,142 from USC Upstate. The amount of funds being cut are meant to be similar to the amount spent on implementing the reading campaigns. Republican Representative Garry Smith of Simpsonville says he set the cuts into motion after the schools refused to offer alternative reading for students. Keep reading »

So Lame: Very Few 2012 Oscar Nominees Pass “The Bechdel Test”

What's The Bechdel Test?
The Bechdel Test photo
It's a test to see whether women are substantively represented in film. Read More »
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The Bechdel Test photo
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Back in 1985, cartoonist Alison Bechdel drew a “Dykes To Watch Out For” cartoon describing the three rules that govern whether or not she will see a movie, which she called “The Bechdel Test“:

  1. It has to have two women in it who have names,
  2. Who talk to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Bechdel’s point was that the majority of mainstream films relegate women to the role of “girlfriend,” “wife” or “princess in a tower who needs to be saved by a knight in shining arming” and this is problematic for women’s substantive representation in film. Unfortunately, 25 years later, a lot of movies still don’t pass the Bechdel test, including 2012 Oscar nominees. Keep reading »

What’s “The Bechdel Test” And Will Your Next Blockbuster Rental Pass It?

Back in 1985, cartoonist Alison Bechdel drew a “Dykes To Watch Out For” cartoon describing the three rules that govern whether or not she will see a movie:

  1. It has to have two women in it,
  2. Who talk to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Keep reading »

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