comics commencement

May 20th, 2007 | Other Projects

center for cartoon studies graduation

Today I drove down to White River Junction to see the Center for Cartoon Studies’ first ever graduation ceremony. Here’s everyone hanging out on the street in front of the school. There was a very impressive thesis exhibition by the eighteen graduating students. This school is really amazing. Here’s an excellent article about it that ran recently in the Christian Science Monitor. At least I thought it was excellent until I got to the sentence, “And the professionals who pass through as guest lecturers – as many as 15 a semester – are luminaries of the comics world. Mr. Spiegelman. Chris Ware. Alison Bechdel.”

You would think a person would find that flattering, but it’s actually rather mortifying. It’s like saying, Tolstoy. Nabokov. Borat. Or maybe Garbo. Dietrich. Aniston. Don’t worry, I’m not fishing for reassurance. Just a little perspective.

24 Responses to “comics commencement”

  1. Al, et al. says:

    Face it, Alison– you are a luminary. Of course, we here in DTWOF land have known it all along.

  2. mulierebus says:

    Yeah, I agree. I think you’re just that good. You’ll have to get used to it.

  3. Ellen Orleans says:

    When in doubt, I like to read the definition.

    Luminary: a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others.

    Sounds right to me on both accounts.

    Burn brightly…

  4. van says:

    Kudos, AB!

    Now all you need is to have made is a humongous portrait of you, the kind with eyes that follow you around the room, and have them hang it at the center.

  5. Sheila says:

    Rest assured.

  6. Al, et al. says:

    van- maybe AB could just submit the self-portrait where she’s chopping wood in the nude. Or would that not be imposing enough?

  7. David in Cambridge says:

    AB: Are you giving your own knickers an extra twist? “Luminary” isn’t as scary as “greatest of all time”, which seems to be the idea behind your Tolstoy and Garbo lists.

    My sense has been that “luminary” is more temporal/contemporary. The American Heritage definition of luminary ends with “See Synonyms at ‘celebrity'”.

    Although I do happen to think you’re one of the greatest of all time. Sorry!

    Squirming only makes it worse.

  8. Sophie says:

    What?! I don’t want to hear any of that. Woman, you’re a star. Get used to it.

  9. kate says:

    chopping wood in the nude? well, that would certainly seal the deal on that luminary status. i bet none of those other people (including borat) have even thought of doing that.

    i like the sound luminary, the way it rolls off the tongue. and i like the imagery behind it–kind of a soft, glowing thing that acts as a guide. so in that sense, i do think you’re luminary.

    your works have guided me during rough times–times where i thought there was never anyone else in my small world like me. but in your world everyone was like that and they were so normal. you can’t underestimate the impact that has on others, surely. just look back to that other entry where you posted an old d2wo4. i loved reading all the entries that took everyone back to those same feelings that i had and also how your work really had influenced them.

    in that respect, luminary seems not enough.

  10. anonymous says:

    Hey Alison – I was at the commencement, cheering on a friend from college (and especially enjoying the accordian experience)! I was excited to see you there, and contemplated saying a polite hello, but had a moment of realizing that the interaction would be entirely self-indulgent (what do you need another random person bothering you for?). Ah well. It was nice to take in a historical moment, and celebrate an old friend becoming part of this world – the whole day had a great energy.

  11. David in Cambridge, thanks for the perspective on “luminary.” Indeed, in terms of celebrity, Jennifer Aniston is right up there with Marlene Dietrich.

  12. Rebekah says:

    I’ll take my luminaries where I can get them, Alison. Out of those three names, yours was the only one I recognized.

  13. anonymous says:

    It seems geniuses in many fields are convinced they are frauds, or undeserving of acclaim. Yes, get used to it. There’s no turning back. Your name is permanently etched.
    I don’t expect you will let your increasing ‘well-knownness’ alter your wonderful self.

  14. NLC says:

    This is badly off-topic, but:

    If anyone decides that they can’t wait for the official release date, it appears that Medu… I mean Amazon is listing the paperback edition of FH as “in stock” (so maybe they have access to some advance copies).

    (Interestingly, I notice, too, that the “sale-ranking” for the paperback edition of FH has just passed that for the hardback edition…)

  15. Eva says:

    Glow little glow worm, glitter, glitter! Way to go! Art, Chris & Alison, woo-hoo!

  16. Josiah says:

    As the one who first mentioned that CSM article (in the “cartoonists on the evening news” thread), I’d like to say that however you define “luminary”, Alison belongs in the top echelon of comics-makers — yes, with Chris Ware and Art Spiegelman. Certainly, Fun Home has received the same sort of mainstream recognition that Jimmy Corrigan and Maus did, so why shouldn’t AB be included in the ranks of those creators?

  17. Ydnic says:

    Colodny’s Surprise Department Store?? I love it!

  18. LizD says:

    Alison, don’t sell yourself short. Fun Home was every bit as profound and brilliant as Maus.

  19. Josiah says:

    And Fun Home never became a parody of itself, as Acme Novelty Library occasionally does.

  20. dna says:

    I envy that mans trench coat.

  21. ksbel6 says:

    Yep, you are most certainly at the top!

  22. Kelli says:

    Did anyone notice that Mo is in the picture (or what I believe Mo would look like if she were a real person)? Look in the doorway underneath the words “Colodny’s”…

  23. Anonymous says:

    You sure that’s “Mo”? Looks a little like AB to me!

  24. Str8 but Not Narrow says:

    Yep, sorry Alison. As a dogged reader of yours for, aw geez…truly I have lost count…15 years at least, you’re up there with the best of ’em. And one of the only women to achieve this kind of notoriety. I’d say you deserve every scintilla of this praise. Keep up the good work.