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Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel


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 happen.

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.

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