As Invasion of
the Dykes to Watch Out For (Alyson Books, $14.95),
Alison Bechdel’s 12th compilation of strips starring
everyone’s favorite lesbian extended family,
hits stores, we caught up with the cartoonist by phone
from her home in Vermont.
The Dykes characters are constantly listening to
TV or radio news in the background, almost to the
point where it’s a Greek chorus in the
strip. Are you a news junkie?
I sort of become one temporarily when I’m
on deadline for this comic strip. That’s when I
listen to the news; otherwise, I just tune it out.
Do you operate with a long-ranging arc for these
characters, or do plot twists occur to you in real time?
[Laughs] I wish I had a long arc, you
know. I have a big spreadsheet where I keep track of
what’s going on with everyone’s story,
but the truth is, I write these episode to episode, and I
really don’t know what’s going to
Do you think the changes in the strip reflect changes the
lesbian community is facing?
That’s my goal. There used to be this
women’s bookstore that was the focal point of
the strip, and that’s gone. Everyone’s sort of
off living their separate lives and separate careers,
and that’s definitely something that’s
happened in real life. As my generation has aged, people
live less communally and more hermetically. I don’t
want it to get frozen in time.
Tell us a little about the book you’ve got coming
out next year.
I just finished writing a graphic memoir about
my closeted gay dad and what it was like growing up
with him. It’s a huge project; I’ve been
working on it for six years. It’s over 200 pages and
a whole big comic book about my childhood.