Friday, July 17, 2009

Bechdel, Alison (The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For)

I've never reviewed a collection of comic strips before, and it's quite possible I never will again. But I feel it's my duty to proselytize this particular strip for two reasons: a) it reflects a lifestyle that too many people know next to nothing about and b) it is invigorating and eye-opening.

This comic is far from one-sided, and I believe that's one of its strengths. As a heterosexual myself with not as many gay friends as I might like, I'm sure I had one and only view of lesbian life before reading it. All assumed based on what I've read and what I've imagined. Well, thank you, Alison Bechdel if for nothing else than showing how extraordinarily multi-sided the lesbian culture is. Which should be absolutely no surprise to any right-thinking person but also proves how blindered we all live.

But there's more! Bechdel is trained as an academic, and she's also clearly a newshound, so on top of the culture you get a biting critique of our political world in the U.S. for the last twenty years. I dearly wish she had continued the comic if only to see what she would have written and drawn about Obama's election (her strip went on sabbatical in May last year).

I almost wish someone would make a film based on the strip. Although I'm having a tough time casting it in my head (who plays Mo? Sandra Bullock or Samantha Morton?), the characterizations are so rich and realized, it should be a snap for a screenwriter to put together a script. Why not give Bechdel a shot at it first, actually?

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