Your perspicacious comments on 499

November 17th, 2006 | The Artistic Condition

My deadline is looming for episodes 500 and 501, but I’m in a serious procrastination trough. I always have this problem, but it seems worse than usual right now, perhaps due to the daunting evenness of the number 500. I wasn’t going to read the comments people were making about 499 because I didn’t want to be swayed by them. But finally I broke down and looked, and I’m glad I did.

First of all, I’m astonished at how closely you’re all reading everything. That doesn’t help my paralysis. But man, I made so many mistakes in the last episode. I did write it unusually quickly, because of having to leave on that trip. But still.

The red wine! As I was drawing Toni pouring that glass of wine, I was thinking of it as white wine, but then much later in the process, when I was inking in the blacks, I made it red just because it showed up better. A classic writing/drawing disjuncture.

Then I totally bollixed up the Farkas-McLaughlins. As Matt pointed out,

“Liz Farkas-McLaughlin is mentioned in “Theory and Practice,” the bonus story at the end of Invasion of the DTWOF. Her partner Beth F-M shows up and thinks that Toni and Gloria are a couple.”

I meant for the woman on the phone to be Beth McLaughlin-Farkas, the same one we met in “Theory and Practice.” I said Liz by mistake, and I reversed their hyphenated surnames by mistake. (I didn’t expect anyone would remember this character–I just wanted to invoke an officious, gossipy busybody.)

And no, Matt, sadly, “Liz and Beth” McLaughlin-Farkas, or Farkas-McLaughlin, whatever, were not an homage to “Liza and Beth” of Ethan Green fame. Apparently I was just unconsciously ripping Eric Orner off.

(Oh, and Yi-sheng—bravo for suggesting that the indistinguishable Liz and Beth could have a daughter named Elspeth.)

And while we’re on the I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that front, yes, Ryan, “YouBoob” would have been better than “YouTube.” And Suzanonymous, the refrigerator as a symbol of coldness! Brilliant! Let’s just pretend that’s what I meant, okay?

I was also extremely impressed with all the etymological information about petards and hoisting. And I’m deeply moved by the many penetrating insights into the characters’ emotional lives.

In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures.

126 Responses to “Your perspicacious comments on 499”

  1. Feminista says:

    Don’t sweat the small stuff, AB. You’re still brilliant and funny.

  2. starrai says:

    I demand you remain in charge of the strip if only because it means Sydney and Mo will stick around together!

    (Also…because you’re all awesome and stuff…)

  3. LM says:

    Oh c’mon. You’ve really been on a roll with DTWOF throughout all this book tour craziness. More, more, more!

  4. Deb says:

    Now Alison, we know you have been having a very busy autumn. We love you and you can do the strip…….how about showing part of a ‘your’ blog in one of the strips………..since the kids are messing around with a computer. I really liked the idea of BoobTube too. Just some random thoughts.

  5. Deborah says:

    Did you ever imagine how dangerous giving all of us DTWOF fans a forum such as this one would be???
    We love it that you are the boss of the strip, Alison. Don’t go changin’ to try and please us!

  6. JenK says:

    “In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures.”

    Husband says: “Oh God. Cartoon by committee.”

  7. shadocat says:

    hehe-I think I would like that for maybe a one time thing; “fill in the cartoon balloon”…

  8. Xanthe says:

    I can imagine reading through such admiring scrutiny feels wonderful but also an awful lot to live up to.

    Try and forget the number and us for a while, and go with what feels right to you. Best of luck with it 🙂

  9. KP says:

    I have been reading this since I was 24 and am now at the age of 36 embarking on marriage myself (to my girlfriend Caroline)….save Clarice and Toni’s marriage please!!!! Or at least dont let them end up being miserable

  10. NLC says:

    > In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip
    > over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures.

    Hmmmm…. An interesting idea. A special
    “WikiD2WO4” episode….

  11. AnnaP says:

    In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures.

    Sounds like one of those “Reality TV” shows where the viewers are woting people out. Wonder who would be the first one to be leaving DTWOF if people had a choice
    Thank God(des) they don`t

    (Usually i try to put the word God in the beginning of the sentence cause otherwise I have trouble using the capital letter in the beginning.)

  12. techzoid says:

    And remember, 500 is just 764 in base eight…

  13. meg says:

    deep breaths and little sips of wine and, if all else fails, just lie on the floor a while. Works for me… of course, I’m not famous.

    no worries, Alison. After all, it could be worse, you could be working at Kinko’s!

  14. Kat says:

    “In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures.”

    …like the contests at the end of New Yorker magazines where you have to supply the caption??

    would be cool once, but you’re too awesome and we wouldn’t want any substitutions!!

  15. nancyboi says:

    Geez AB perspicacious and officious in the same post- were you recently studying for the GRE? This is why you and only you should remain in charge of the strip. Genius.

  16. Duncan says:

    Alison: “And Suzanonymous, the refrigerator as a symbol of coldness! Brilliant! Let’s just pretend that’s what I meant, okay?”

    Since you’ve said before that you like psychoanalytic reviews/criticism, we don’t *have* to pretend! Your subconscious put the symbol in there for you! 😎

    nancyboi, now *that* scares me — the idea that it’s necessary to be a genius to use words like perspicacious or officious, or that you’d only know them if you were recently studying for the GRE. There is a lot of social pressure in the US, at least, to pretend to be ignorant and illiterate, even among the officially educated. I’ve encountered a lot of it among gay men, but of course it’s not limited to us.

  17. angie says:

    Dunca – that reminds me of a spoof I did on an old morality play in Lit. class. People came up afterwards going on and on about the (totally unintended) symbolism they’d seen. My friend and I ( who’d written the thing) smiled and nodded and said “what great insight! I agree!”

  18. Butch Fatale says:

    Cartoon by committee? Will it also be cartoon by consensus? What would Sydney say?!?

  19. Ann says:

    I just thought that it must be fun to ink Toni’s hair. Oh, well.

    Off the subject, but an actual conversation:
    “Are you going to see her again?”
    “I have to. She has my copy of Fun Home.”

    Now that’s lesbo culture.

  20. uther says:

    Hey, you keep producing ’em, I’ll keep reading ’em – OK?

  21. Jude says:

    You know that the Special WikiDWTOF episode would include all those characters that we all miss and haven’t seen forever. Thea! Jezanna! Harriet! What’shername the bidyke from the food coop! Lois! Oh, wait.

  22. Mame says:

    The bidyke is Naomi.

  23. Silvio Soprani says:

    This conversation is reminding me Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles live album where someone in audience yells out a request and she gently chides them for their attempt to control her autonomy on stage by saying “Nobody ever said to Vincent van Gogh, “Hey, paint “A Starry Night” again…”

    She is commenting on the different paradigms of music performance vs solitary painting.

    Of course, that was back in the 70s and creativity and audience interaction has moved on light years since then.

    The very idea that the creator of DTWOF would be reading what the readers think (and that the readers would get to read each others’ “fan mail,” respond to it, and see the creator’s response) was unthinkable then.

    I must confess that being part of this blog feels similar to being the middle child and wanting all of the parent’s attention, alternating with enjoying being part of such a happenin’ family. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t want us to influence Alison’s vision for this strip. I just want to read it.

    Yet here I am, reading the whole interaction, day after day.

    Composing a comic strip has leaped into a whole new paradigm of its own. Like the original characters of Star Trek, I don’t want to influence the societies I visit in the galaxy. But just by landing there, I change them. I can’t exist and “just watch” simultaneously.

    Can’t do anything about that. Must just keep reading…

  24. nancyboi says:

    Duncan, it was a joke. I was recently studying for the GRE and happened to have those two words on my desktop. I didn’t mean to imply that AB, or myself, or anyone who would use those words must be a genius, or someone studying for the GRE. I understand that plenty of people play down their intellect. Sorry if it sounded elitist.

  25. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    Hey Ann, it’s not just happening in the lesbo community. I’m a gay man in Singapore, and I snared a very comely fashion designer into having to see me again by lending him my autographed copy of “Fun Home”.

    Gawdihopehereturnsit…

  26. Ann says:

    Whoa. I once gave away my FIRST EDITION, SIGNED copy of Rubyfruit Jungle. Gave it away! The inscription said, “Annie, I hope you find your..” with an arrow drawn down to the title.

  27. nancyboi says:

    Hmm, I just reread my reply to Duncan and it sounds pretty bitchy. So let me try again. I do think AB is genius, which I’m not using in a mensa way (quantified by standardized testing, etc.) but in a more flip manner, i.e. “that’s genius!” And I guess, when I say such things, and couple them with comments like “only AB should write the strip,” they do sound kind of judgmental. So I’m sorry, I guess I can be sort of an intellectual snob (Sydney). And Duncan, as a gay man, I completely agree with you about gay men playing down their intelligence, especially while playing up a very stereotypical (and this is not in judgment either, as I myself am a huge queen) and superficial ‘gay’ persona. Which is problematic for a number of reasons. I think.

  28. Deb says:

    Techzoid, YIKES! Made me laugh to start out my.

  29. nic h (uk) says:

    ” In fact, I think I’m going to turn the strip over to you. I’ll just draw the pictures”

    no way, havent you learnt your lesson, remember when you gave the characters the ability to run the cartoon factory?
    you ended up chained in the basement.

    and are the rest of you compeletely mad. I would never lend a signed book by anyone. Ive lost too many good books that werent signed.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Okay, I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. Let’s give Toni a glue huffing habit. Rafi’s an evil genius planning to take over the universe. Stella is trying to get onto American Idol at any cost. Clarice can only communicate by channelling the spirit of the show tune singing old school type gay man living inside her. Mo suddenly has an urge to write an opera about the destruction of democracy written in a key only Dusty Springfield could sing. Sidney suddenly becomes obsessed with making cupcakes and felt appliqueed aprons. Thea comes back as a dominatrix, and Jezanna runs for state comptroller.

    Ginger, Stuart and Sparrow are killed in a horrible gardening accident. Little Jao Raizel is left behind to be raised by Lois. Samia and Mr. Husband are deported, to France.

    There, that ought to do it.

  31. Andrew O. says:

    Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy and Bess,
    They all went together to seek a bird’s nest;
    They found a bird’s nest with five eggs in,
    They all took one, and left four in.

  32. Jaibe says:

    Hmmmm (she says, taking the new-found responsibility very seriously) maybe #500 should feature people from #1 warped from the 80s and reading about the election rather than Mo & co? No, I’ve just checked, you started numbering with Mo & Lois (and one seal point siamese). So cheer up, you’ve already drawn 500 yonks ago! (I bet you even know how many you published before #1!)

  33. mlk says:

    No!! No!!! this will NOT be a comic strip by committee!

    (although Jennifer has done a pretty good job all by herself)

    the very fact that we have so many ideas and opinions is your license to do whatever you want. if you ever need ideas, you can use ours (which you’ve done in the past, right? it’s a huge compliment). you can appropriate to your heart’s content so far as I’m concerned. but if you’ve mapped out a plot line or want to take a character in a certain direction just remember . . . you’re the genius behind this strip.

    and please don’t worry about your mistakes. as you’ve seen, they add another layer (or 2, or more) to the strip’s meaning. they validate the role of the unconscious in your art. how cool is that!?!!

    seems that everything has its usefulness, including chilled red wine.

  34. Deborah says:

    I think that Toni was just looking around the fridge for some olives to go with that red wine. Right, Alison?
    🙂

  35. Em says:

    I know John Lennon wrote I Am The Walrus in part to confound the hell out of people who were reading meaning into every single Beatle lyric possible, but he still said that he often prefered the “hidden” meaning than the one he intended. (I’ve been on a major Beatles-Wikipedia binge lately…)

    And Alison, if you turn the strip over to us, you know that can only mean one horrific thing…. FANSERVICE! Mo becomes a Catgirl! Mary Sues run amock, seducing every character and dazzling us with their brilliance! Raffi discovers he’s Harry Potter’s long lost half-brother! Lois discovers a magical amulet that enables her to travel through time! Gratuitous nudity! Pointless musical cameos!

    So many of my geeky fandoms have eaten my brain, and DTWOF is probably the only one that helps restore it:)

  36. Liz (some call me Beth) says:

    The relationship between Clarice and Toni is about as warm as the refrigerator, it’s way beyond lesbian bed death with them I trust AB with her artistic license but those two. It seem like Ginger is in some relationship with a woman whose VISA may not be available but is definitely unavailable for any committed or monogamous relationship. It seems like Clarice and Ginger have crossed paths many times and it’s high time those two worked it out and combined their energies and intensities for the issues they care about because it’s happened with the people they are respectively with. Let Toni and Gloria drive away together into the sunset headed for their beloved suburbia with a minivan of kids. Ginger was a sport and went along for the ride but now she needs to get back on the crosstown bus and hook up with Ginger already.

  37. Sarah says:

    I don’t think DTWOF is ready for all the geeky fan stuff that things like Harry Potter and various anime stuff suffer from. From Mary-Sues to M-preg(Although, Stuart might like that), I think the cast of DTWOF have enough on their plate already without adding anything really off the wall.

    With that being said, I can’t wait for the 500th episode! I’m going to laugh if AB makes it out to be something other than Clarice and Toni related JUST to keep us hanging.

  38. Jaibe says:

    Despite mlk nuking my brilliant suggestion 😉 I have to agree — Dilbert was a lot funnier when it was a geek drawing about engineering than when it became a summary of emails from whining office workers. Still, it *has* been 20 years since Lois last propositioned Mo :->

  39. Blue - Current Writers Block Sufferer says:

    I think the most distressing thing here is not the break up of a fictional relationship, or that you’re too busy to notice details – but that you might be suffering from writers block!

    Has any one ever told you to take some time off?

    I’d hate the strip to stop, but I’d hate to see the author burnt out even more so. Maybe it’s best to avoid these comments and all the added pressure and just bugger off somewhere and have some decent down-time – maybe you need some red wine?!

    I think you should chill about the whole thing – better late than never right?

  40. aimes says:

    I will admit that I read the strip without literary or psychological analyses ever entering my mind. There, I said it.

    Now, for the record, I thought Toni had insomnia.

  41. Ann says:

    Resigning from the fawning crowd. Adios.

  42. Duncan says:

    nancyboi, don’t apologize for being bitchy. It’s part of our culture as gay men. Celebrate it! (I’m still trying to remember who it was who said, “I’m a white American male: exploitation and oppression are part of my culture.”)

    I didn’t think your comment was “elitist” — just the opposite. That was my complaint. One thing I figured out years ago was that most self-styled elitists are actually inferior intellectually. Had you heard that polls consistently show that something like 80% of Americans believe they’re above average? By contrast, the smartest people I’ve encountered do not go around telling you about their Mensa memberships, and one sure sign of deficiency is signing one’s name with “Ph.D.” after it. (Remember Alison’s guerilla therapy character from the calendars, who goes around bragging “I have a Master’s Degree! In Social Work!”)

    Me, I’m just an autodidact, a low-class trailer-trash Hoosier. I’m one of the 20% of Americans who know they’re below average. 9-)

  43. Silvio Soprani says:

    Duncan,

    If you know the word, “autodidact,” that bumps you up to at least 21%!

  44. Deb says:

    I absolutely loved the string of strips that had the characters ‘taking over’. I thought it was brilliant. Now, I must agree that they did end of chaining our Alison in the basement, but wouldn’t it be cool for them to take an appraising look at themselves for #500? How have they evolved since the ‘beginning’ as well as keeping with the story line of the kids. I’m not sure how that would all weave together.

  45. Feminista says:

    On a completely different subject–I read the Lollipop profile listed under Links of AB’s brother John. What a transformation–from the sweet,smiling blond boy in Fun Home to the scowling,spiky-haired rocker! I’m sure he’s very talented,but he doesn’t look too friendly. Glad he counts John Lennon among his heroes.

  46. mlk says:

    since we’ve moved on to making suggestions for the 500th strip, I have a couple of ideas.

    1)Audrey can open a diner that serves dishes from the kitchens of Albert, Sydney and Mo. something to please everyone gastronomically, and a place for all those long lost characters to gather and catch us up w/their lives. instead of pies in the case up front, Lois can have dildoes and lube — Audrey and Jezanna (sp?) will never run out!!

    2)Mo and Sydney break up, then after a suitable period of mourning Sydney takes up with Harriet. wouldn’t they be a cute couple?!?? and maybe Harriet can somehow humanize Sydney.

    just kidding, Alison.

  47. Suzanonymous says:

    I just saved this blog entry, entitled, “the cherished blog entry,” no kidding. I would say “thanks for making my week” but too soon after being proud of being mentioned in this blog, I was embarrassed for the pettiness of my life. LOL. This has been a nice laugh. I do have a life. Truly.

    On some level, clearly, you came up with the symbolism. I mean, 2-3 times Clarice is facing the refrigerator (it’s even included above, in the YouBoob panel) during times of discord, and here Toni is facing away.

    Take it easy, everyone.

  48. LondonBoy says:

    I’ve spent several millenia (subjective time) in groups attempting to decide things by consensus, so I’m very happy to stick with AB’s benign dictatorship. However, if any of the following can be included, I’d be grinning from ear to ear:
    1. Jezanna and Audrey having a formal commitment ceremony;
    2. Max Axel entering a reality TV (!) show;
    3. Toni being nominated to complete the term of a state senator who’s moved on, following her work for FtM;
    4. Clarice spending more time with her son – and isn’t she about due for a serious mid-life crisis and some career angst?
    5. Harriet meeting a hot new, and much younger, woman who completely sweeps her off her feet.
    6. Sydney being given a year’s sabbatical in Belgium, and taking Mo with her for a year of European joie-de-vivre – we’d still see them, but as postcards and blog entries and video-clips (on YouBoob, natch!).

    Seriously, I’m just delighted that there’s going to be a 500th strip – whatever Alison decides is fine with me.

  49. dgll says:

    Didn’t the Simpson’s let the 100th episode slip by and then have a celebratory 135th or something?
    Alison, don’t worry about it. This one fan will stick by you no matter what.

  50. Em says:

    “I don’t think DTWOF is ready for all the geeky fan stuff that things like Harry Potter and various anime stuff suffer from. From Mary-Sues to M-preg(Although, Stuart might like that), I think the cast of DTWOF have enough on their plate already without adding anything really off the wall.”

    well… yeah:)
    I just can never resist the opportunity to riff on the horrors of ‘fanservice’ and all that it might imply.

  51. a different Emma says:

    Em–I think you are on to something with ‘gratuitious nudity’ and ‘pointless musical cameos.’ Maybe, now stay with me here everyone, just maybe the 500th episode doesn’t have to say much of anything at all.
    Instead, it could be a gratuitously nude and pointless musical cameo! Just imagine–boobs everywhere, tophats, fishnets, birkenstocks, elephants and doves, a big-band orchaestra and a big dance number with fireworks doing nothing more than celebrating the awesome cultural phenomenon that is Dykes To Watch Out For. I can see the doves now, winging their glorious way into the wild blue yonder, with a gigantic billowing DTWOF banner in tow.

    It could be beautiful!

    But seriously, whatever Alison does, we’re going to love it. And she shouldn’t stress about it. We’re willing to wait. Just tell the money people that deadlines are for weenies.

  52. Ian says:

    That would be the ultimate accolade wouldn’t it? To be named in one of those Tip o’ the nibs?

    It’s interesting to see suggestions up there for a restaurant. After Madwimmin closed, a lot of characters went in very different ways, and – to use the dreaded analogy – like a sitcom I wondered where the strip would go having lost a very central locale in which to bring all the characters together – a raison d’etre if you please. But in some ways it’s simplified the strip and enabled AB to focus in almost forensically on character’s psychologies and stories. In simplicity is beauty.

    I for one would like to know what the neo-con D2WO4 (can’t remember her name, sorry) thinks about the Democrats winning both houses; whether Fun Home has led to greater mainstream interest in D2WO4, and what a GRE is for us non-Americans, please?

    Oh, and for those Beatles fans I have to do some gratuitous name-dropping and boasting: I live in Liverpool, in the next street to where George Harrison was born, less than a mile from Penny Lane! Sorry, it’s my sole claim to fame!!! Hahahaha!

  53. Aunt Soozie says:

    I think Alison’s brother looks like a big sweetheart…don’t let the hairstyle fool you…
    and if you read the article…well, I suspect he’s no one to be afraid of…

    I liked Jennifer’s story line but…oy vay…
    i can’t even imagine the group comic strip writers thing…
    it would be like a diversity workshop, co-op, potluck, vegetarian knitting cat fancier’s club meeting run amok…sends a shiver down my spine.

    I liked what techzoid said too…768 in base eight…i have no idea what it means but… Oh, Duncan, you don’t need to accuse me of false modesty…I’m one of those people who generally talks all about my high IQ score. But, I really don’t know how to do that kind of math. My kid’s only in fourth grade and we haven’t had that yet.

    Alison, I was stunned by the number of responses you generated by typing one simple wordlette…”Phew”.
    So really, try to ignore us. Just do what you do…oh, right, that’s what you do, you don’t ignore us…you perseverate…okay, well, do whatever it is you do…because we all like it.

    As my favorite professor used to say,
    sometimes we have “happy accidents” in our artwork
    and what’s created is better than we could have planned or intended.

    if all else fails, forget the wine…it’ll give you a headache, email me and I’ll recommend some really good pharmaceuticals.

    Auntie

  54. G in Paris says:

    The torments of procrastination are alas part of the creation process, the more the pressure, the acuter the feeling. Sharing such a state of mind is touching and can be a good way to find solace, anyway it opened the sluices of the contributors’ minds about the characters’ fates, what a good thread! Personally I enjoy the plot very much and the pangs of pain whenever something sad happens are part of the enjoyment.

  55. Silvio Soprani says:

    “Different Emma”–your extravaganza reminds me of some of the more hilarious episodes of “Are You Being Served?” (that’s British TV that we see in the USA on public tv) where all the characters would dress up in ethinic costumes and do vaudvillian performance in the department store. But somehow, it does not seem like our dear dykes cup of tea!

    Ian–I admit to missing madwimmin books and all the bogus book-names Alison would slip in (for those who still have good eyesight…although now that it’s on FLICkR, and especially because I use Firefox, I can enlarge the print! Oh heaven! for a 55-yr old like me!) but I do agree that the new focus has given us great views especially of Clarice and Toni’s suburban life. I can’t help being nostalgic for their earlier more urban scene, however.

    Speaking of urban, how “fab” that you live in Liverpool. Did you get to see Yoko’s giant labial art that was hanging in the streets as some kind of anniversary celebration of the city about a year ago? A friend of mine who lives in San Francisco but is from Liverpool told me it was supposed to be a tribute to John Lennon’s mother but that some people were outraged. If you can add any details to that I would be interested.

  56. Ian says:

    Yep, I saw the banner picturing Yoko’s vadge fluttering on a flag pole next to some of the ubiquitous ‘main street’ or high street as we call it, shops. There was a bit of outrage, but there was also amusement as well. She’s not a popular woman here (or in a lot of places I imagine).

    There were letters of protest to the local newspaper, items on the local (and briefly) on the national news, but it did stay up. I think it was from a 70s art piece wasn’t it? Naturally, a lot of intense discussion over whether you should have an explicit pic in such a place, but it was allowed by the local council. I suspect it was left up because a lot of people wanted to look at it! Sadly, the artistic point wasn’t discussed in the local media – mentioned, but lost. My impression was that it was a 9 days’ wonder and that was it.

  57. nancyboi says:

    The GRE is the Graduate Record Exam. You have to take it to get into graduate school in the US. It tests verbal and math skills which is pretty ridiculous, especially for an American Studies person like myself who has retained only basic checkbook balancing type math. The math section is supposedly easy, but the verbal section is killer, its interactive, so the more words you get right the harder the words get. By the end its asking you to name the relationship between contumacious and imbroglio which will somehow determine your aptitude for graduate level study. Basically everyone, including profs, hates it but its a big money making racket. It’s like 130 to register, and if you want to take a prep class you can pay as much as 3000.

  58. psychofogqueen says:

    I vote for a hugh musical number! 😀

  59. Yossi says:

    I am happy with anything that you have the characters do. Two tiny requests: More Harriet and a visit from Emma (with or without Dorothy). Also, Chanukah is next month. Nu, can we hear from Naomi and David?

  60. rohmie says:

    Speaking of both making mistakes and the comments to 499, a hat tip to Anonny Mouse’s better memory is called for. I incorrectly placed Clarice’s affair nearer to their getting “serious.” Clarice’s fling was way, wayyyyy- back in “New & Improved DTWOF” – #35(!) Time flies. I got confused because they had both been bringing up each other’s trysts in “Post-DTWOF” which made me think both affairs were fairly fresh memories (although I knew Toni’s was more recent). Toni brings up Ginger in #326 and Clarice brings up Gloria in that volume’s bonus novella “Flow State.” (Page 133) Recent or no, both affairs are apparently still in their minds.

  61. shadocat says:

    I swore I was not going to write today, by gave into curiousity for just one quick peek,so to the blog I was drawn, and here I am writing! I originally came to this site as many do; just to read the strip. But now I find the comments and conversations that follow (as well as Alison’s adventures and comentary)equally as fascinating. Besides, this has become irresistibly fun! Where else can I converse about transgender rights, politics,and book bannings,with such clever, adroit, and intelligent people? Not only that, I have connected with people who share my passion for an array of interests such as cold (cheap) red wine, the Ozarks, and an obsession with Doris Day?(thank you, Maggie).

    Ian-I’m totally envious of you-living less than 2 miles from Penny Lane-and you saw Yoko’s “vadge badge”!

    Duncan-I too am a “autodidact, trailer-trash_______”, but I would have to substitute “Hoosier” with, I guess, “Bushwacker”, which, BTW, means I’m from Missouri, and has nothing to do with my politics or sex life (well, maybe, just a little).

    Ann-don’t resign; fawning is not a prerequisite here. One can even be critical! Some have been downright bitchy at times (though I don’t recomend that). Stay; take your shoes off; have a sangria snow cone…

    Jaibe-I remember you from the “Planetout” message boards. Isn’t this so much better (tho’ I wish paytonc and others were here sometimes…)?

    Alison, I love ya for not only your work, but for giving us this playground. And thank you for expanding my vocabulary. Who know, maybe one day, I too can take the GRE?

  62. shadocat says:

    Oh and BTW-to you tech savants and others-is there any software available to help those such as I (who are menopausal and seem to be going blind)that I could get that would help me proofread my postings before I submit my comments? I always try to go over everything I write carefully, think I’ve caught it all, then post it. Then when I re-read it, dammit!, I find something! Arrrggghhh!

  63. Jo Z says:

    For shadocat
    You can write your reply in a word processing program and spell or grammar check it there. When you’re done, just copy and paste it into the reply box.

  64. Maggie Jochild says:

    I’d have to say I’m a spam-suckin’ trailer-trash autodidact. Sixth-generation Texan (or Texican, as we’d say here) who refuses to claim W. as Texan (or American, for that matter). Unreconstructed lesbian-feminist class and race traitor. Grateful to Yoko for a long list of world-altering things she’s done over the decades. Here for the ideas, the international view, the willingness to listen, and, of course, the girls.

  65. AK says:

    Everytime W. claims to be a Texan, I’m pretty sure Ann Richards rolls over in her grave. He’s from Connecticut, the carpetbagger.

  66. JSD says:

    It’s just a number!!! 499, 500, 501… Please don’t try to make it anything other than what it is: the episode after 499 and before 501. We celebrate EVERY episode of DTWOF. They’re all special. Your only responsibilities as creator of DTWOF are to be true to yourself and true to the characters. We don’t always like or agree with your choices for the characters and their stories, but we don’t write the strip, you do. It comes down to these simple truths: We trust you. We believe in you. We’ve trusted and believed in you for decades. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and doubtless many people will be unhappy with whatever path you choose for Toni and Clarice. That’s life, and that’s what we love most and relate to best about the strip – it’s real, it’s about real life. Fictional characters, yes, but functioning in a real-life modality. Nobody is going to turn their back on this strip or on you just because of a disagreement over the fate of Toni and Clarice. Don’t rush or compromise, just keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s why we’re all still here.

  67. Jennifer says:

    Okay, I’ll negotiate down from glue huffing. Maybe a teeny predisposition for crystal meth and beanie babies?

    Take some time to think about it.

  68. Anonymous says:

    But Ian,

    Was Yoko’s portrait to commemorate Liverpool, or to celebrate the mother who gave birth to John Lennon (or perhaps does it all add up to the same thing?)

    I never did see the actual image so I am guessing. Do you know if it exists on a site somewhere?

    Nancyboi (what a great name you have!),
    I confess that my experience of the GRE was the other way around: I enjoyed the verbal part but was lost in the math. But then, I like taking standardized tests; what I hate is arguing with people who disagree with me or confronting people who are being mean. I do much better alone in a room with a piece of paper or a computer screen…

    Maggie, Thanks for sticking up for Yoko, who did indeed stand up for herself and women in general. And it is not easy to be the only girl in a room full of male musicians. At least John appreciated quality where he found it, although I don’t think Cynthia got a fair shake. You rarely hear about the fact that she was his fellow art student when they met, not just a blonde bimbo. She wrote an interesting memoire recently about those days and it was surprising kind and not at all vindictive.

    Shadocat, how true! This space is a total gift and I totally enjoy interacting with all of you! Regarding proofreading before you post, if it is any consolation at all, in the publishing field people used to say it takes five pairs of eyes before the piece is ready to publish. So what the hell! Who has the patience to let 5 people read your post? Takes all the fun out of it. I don’t think anybody here is on a grammar-power-trip. (I am an English teacher and I certainly am not (when off duty!).(I can never get my parentheses and quote marks to come out even….)

    And JSD,

    How hard it is to see problematic numbers as “just a number” whether it is your age or a significant strip in a series! But you are right.

    Everybody have a great day! I must go back to grading essays!

  69. Anne says:

    Alison’s post makes me wonder if I could handle it if the voices in my head started posting comments on my blog….

    😉

  70. shadocat says:

    To Jo Z-Thanks for the tip! I can’t believe I hadn’t figured that one out long ago,; in thw words of Homer Simpson, “Do’h!”. (But I do wish I had a little proofreading shoulder-fairy close by, just in case…)

  71. anonymous says:

    This is a bit off topic, but could we have an update on the fundraiser before episode 500? It would be great to be able to celebrate what has already been raised and see whether the $5000 goal has been reached while there’s still time to contribute. Thanks!

  72. S K -R :) says:

    WOW!! you are going to leave it up to us… Just ta thought you sure you want to do that, the strip will never be the same again. Talk about a gamble…

  73. LondonBoy says:

    Completely off-topic, but does anyone remember the calendar page where Mo (as a man) is sworn in as President? Wouldn’t it be great if Mo (as herself) made it to President, on a wild anti-Bush backlash? I’d love to see who she’d pick for her cabinet…

    By the way, apropos of AB’s brother, I’d just like to say that personally I think he’s hot (and I like to think of myself as something of an expert in this subject!)…

  74. --MC says:

    If you want to see them, here’re some pictures of Yoko’s banners:
    http://www.artinliverpool.com/biennial04arch/2004/09/the_banners_are.html
    Apparently the title of her work was “My Mummy Was Beautiful”.

  75. Deena in OR says:

    Completely off topic-but too good not to share.

    Weird dyke moment for the day/week….

    Realizing that you and your 18 year old straight son are attracted to the same physical “type”.

    ….shaking my head and grinning….

  76. Spark says:

    Deena in OR: Fun and amazing, no? I remember a few mind-blowing college conversations with straight male friends (suitors) where by the end we’d reached the common ground of our love for and attraction to women.

  77. the Masked Fundraiser says:

    don’t know that this is the time to ask AB how much we’ve thrown at her for the no-more-important-than-any other-strip #500. I think there’s plenty of room between that figure and $5,000 . . . so just go ahead and send her some $$$ !!

    Alison will have to let us know after the fact if what we did is “good enough,” kinda like we do each time she posts a strip.

    MF

  78. AnnaP says:

    I guess this is somewhat off topic. But there was quite a misunderstanding after Madwimming closed up.
    A friend of mine said “Wasn`t it shame that AB:s bookstore bankrupted” and the result was that everybody who happend to be there, assumed that Firebrand books had extincted. It was releaving to find out DTWOF was still published. That 6 months was pure hell.

  79. Jaibe says:

    (to shadowcat) Yeah, this is at least as good as planet out, but not as good (sorry to say!) as live journal — I loved seeing everyone’s cute icon (OK, I got crushes on some of the icons!), and I miss threading (so this message should be right under yours!) I hope AB’s service provider can start supporting those kinds of things, because I totally support giving all the “hits” to AB in case she ever does any advertising! (well, and I guess they are already turning into paypal donations.)

    Planet out is where I got my handle from, which I use all the time now, just because JB was already taken there…

    AnnaP — does anyone know when the next Dykes book is due out?

  80. shadocat says:

    Deena-I think I can top your weird dyke moment; Didja ever run into your 20-something gay daughter in a club, dancing with her newest GF, and actually have her try to duck our before you saw her? (Too late!), THEN the gf had the audacity to try to borrow money from me for parking!

    Maggie-I love your self description, but do you really eat SPAM-and like it?

  81. anonymous, thankful says:

    I bought Fun Home last week and had finished it (and started reading it again from the beginning) within 48 hours. It was so comprehensive, so full of insight. So much reflection on so many questions: questions Alison’s dad’s life raised for her. Questions of how to hammer out her own life. The impact of her dad + her parents’ relationship on the kids.

    My dad recently got busted for propositioning adolescent girls on the ‘net and extensive kiddie porn downloading. I’m in my 20s and am trying to sift through all this. I’m rather grateful for Alison’s insights, and courage to claim her own life and perspective (and a healthy, life-giving queerness in the face of Negative Sexual Drama). Reading “Fun Home” was the first time I can remember feeling a sense of normalcy, of identification with someone else, about what’s going on in my family. It also stood out to me: all that Alison’s built with her life, and with other queers, and the strength and beauty of that that rose from the ashes of her dad’s tragedy.

  82. College Educated says:

    Big word for a cartoon commentary blog like something that would be said in one of those science cafes. Why the author/cartoonist uses the word “perspicacious” would not be any reason other than exibiting some liberal elitism. She must have stumbled on the word, looked it up and found a way to use it as a title to her latest blog. Try the word “loquatious” or even more appropriate, “pretentious” next time.

  83. Louise says:

    Dear College Educated,

    Or….it could be that “the author/cartoonist” grew up in a family where literary discourse was one of the very few ways of being close and having any sense of intimacy. It could be that “perspicacious” rolls off Alison’s tongue/fingertips without a second thought. Could be.

    You ought to pick up a copy of “Fun Home.”

    There are a zillion different reasons to use big words…not all of them have to do with elitism.

  84. Ellen O. says:

    Regarding word choice….

    Alison is both an artist and writer and as a writer she revels in the remarkable richness and range of the English language.

    She uses words playfully, often employing consonance (the repetition of consonant sounds) as in “the motley ménage has grown multifarious” and, especially with Sydney, she uses “big words” to comment on the absurdity of academic jargon.

    She also loves “P” words, as in Mo’s first conversation with Fiona, “…I found your Powerpoint presentation on preserving privacy under Patriot Act provocative and penetrating.”

    So, from my perspective, “perspicacious” isn’t particularly pompous nor pretentious–it’s perceptive, playful, and perfectly appropriate.

    I invite you to haul out your dictionary (I do) and follow along. If a surprise SAT test suddenly surfaces, we’ll all be ready!

  85. Eva says:

    Thanks Louise, you covered the response to College Educated pretty well.

  86. Eva says:

    And Ellen O., even better. Thank heavens for big minds and even bigger dictionaries! I recently bought a 150 year old Latin-English Lexicon/Dictionary (the leather is falling off in tiny bits). Why on earth, you might ask. I never studied Latin, or Greek. And my French is quite poor. But I fell in love with this big old book and all the information in it. I just had to start finding out what all those latin phrases we use every day really meant. A tip of the keyboard to Alison for her wordy encouragement.

  87. PKintheUK says:

    One of the nice things about English is that (partly because it assimilates so many words from different languages) you can often have many words that mean close to the same thing, and you can select for subtle shades of meaning.

    I think AB already knows what’s going to happen to Toni and Clarice, regardless of comments here.

    I was a little wary of the “behind the scenes” idea. I thought some of those strips were great, and some just ok (I can’t say which at this moment, though, because I have sadly left all my books back home in California with my girlfriend). I think the last one, where the characters broke character felt really strange to me. On the one hand, I did love the absurdness of the characters being “actors” (and seeing Stuart in leather gear was a hoot), but it was very disconcerting! Maybe a reflection of how attached I’ve become to seeing the characters as people.

    If we’re lobbying for cameos by long-lost-characters, maybe Anjali, the poet-intern who went to Brown, can get a job at Buffalo Lake State? And, yeah, bring back Jezanna and Audrey! More sex would be good too, but the part of me that grieves for Goldengrove (thanks, who ever mentioned that in the other post) would hate to see another affair disrupt a couple. I don’t think Lesbian Bed Death is inevitable and inconquerable. Or boobs and a musical number with elephants. That’s always fun.

    By the way, who said Samia isn’t capable of a monogamous relationship? She’s not romantically involved with Ammar–they’re just married on paper. The DOMA doesn’t defend marriage from green card needs.

  88. silvio soprani says:

    MC,

    Thanks for the link to Yoko’s banners!

  89. --MC says:

    Silvio: de nada.

    Who says comics aren’t educational? I have an overstuffed vocabulary, myself — most of it picked up from years of reading above my station, and quite a lot picked up from comics. Mostly the Yiddishisms I got from the early MAD. Happily, K. knows what I mean when I say I’m getting all farshimmelt, or when I say “hev rachmunis”.

  90. Diana in Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis says:

    You know, a fill in the dialogue strip is far from unprecedented. One of my favorite comics of all time, Sugar & Spike, did it just about every issue, and the best one submitted got published.
    It might be fun to do once in a while, maybe evey hundred strips or so.

  91. Maggie Jochild says:

    Precision of language is not limited to homes who use certain kinds of discourse as a means of avoiding intimacy. Nor it is necessarily related to language or class standing. It is, often, related to reading. Coming from a family of readers (yes, trailer-trash omnivorous readers), I didn’t have to go look up perspicacious, nor did I notice it, particularly. One of the reviews of “Fun Home”, however, commented on the amazing vocabulary within it. The desire to communicate exactly what you mean to say is the trait of a writer (whether arising from narcissism or altruism), but all too often not an academic, in my sad experience. Why I’m an autodidact.

    I view Alison’s father as a pedophile. I understand and appreciate the current conversation going on about not limiting the sexuality of adolescents, not conflating them with children. But adult sexuality is not adolescent sexuality, either, and power imbalance in sexual relationships, especially those based on some kind of objectification, is not genuinely helpful to those on the bottom of the dynamic. It took me years to accept that in my own personal history. I will say, I believe the notion of power imbalance seems to be essential to the current American definition of erotic, and the objectification of children and adolescents arises inevitably from that misconstruction. The fact that it is so widespread and looks so “normal” doesn’t mean it is not a pathology. The question I return to is, what might my desire look like if I had not been instructed (positively or negatively) by those older and more powerful than me? I deserve to have that desire.

    Shadocat, of course I don’t actually suck spam. I like it fried, like bologna. Beyond trayf, I know. And my lesbian-feminist ethics urge me toward tempeh, say, instead. But I find that too many of the negative associations of race and class focus on the “icky or weird” things that members of target groups like to eat, so I buck the prevailing wisdom when I can.

    And MC, the vadge badge photo was wonderful — it’s now on my Desktop! Plus, yes, thanks to the Goldengrove unleaving reference a while back – one of the first poems I ever memorized, because I was Margaret as a child and it definitely was Margaret I mourned for.

  92. judybusy says:

    Maggie Jochild-thanks for your comments on how a good vocabulary is learned. I come from a farm family where Harlequin romances and the Enquirer were the main reading material.I got bit by the reading bug, too, and have had to put up with various comments similar to College Educated’s for almost as long as I can remember. Perhaps I got teased for my vocab because girls weren’t supposed to be so smart….Hooray for “big” words. I had to look up perspicacious, which I love, because I don’t come across many words I don’t know. I enjoy this blog and community because, as many others have stated, I learn so much, and people are usually respectful.

  93. College Educated says:

    I don’t like lesbian elitists who think they’re so evolved and with it one single bit. The political correctness has about as much appeal as not using deodorant, where most times stinks of hypocrisy with rants but no action.

    By the way, I find the ‘slow down cowboy’ patronizing and condescending.

  94. another anonymous says:

    Uh oh, looks as if a troll has wandered in. What’s the rule – don’t feed ’em & they’ll go away?

  95. --MC says:

    College Educated, I find YOU patronizing and condescending. If you don’t want to be bothered by lesbians who use big words, why are you here?
    The rest of us will have our lesbians with great huge vocabularies and wits that never flag, thanks.

  96. Straight Ally says:

    College Educated said,

    Try the word “loquatious” . . .

    There’s no such word. You must mean “loquacious.”

    . . . not using deodorant, where most times stinks of hypocrisy

    “Where most times”? Did you mean “which most times”?

    With a little more effort, you too could make literate statements. Surely that’s something you wish to strive for, given that you make a point of being “college educated.”

    (What’s your ______ing problem?)

  97. Deena in OR says:

    Off topic for Deb.

    I have a college freshman headed your way next fall!!! Whoo-hoo! The big fat unopened envelope is sitting on my table waiting for him right now. I couldn’t be grinning any wider for him.

  98. The Cat Herder says:

    I think we should all set aside our differences and agree that #500, being the big milestone, should be greeted with cake and champagne and Lois flashing a titty.

    A behind the scenes where the “actors” are having a party (Stuart in Bear Wear! Sparrow chain smoking!) and reminiscing, ending in a brawl (with Lois flashing the camera) would be a hoot.

    Or not.

    Just sayin’

  99. aimes says:

    ok, here’s another idea:

    why not start a Mo-driven Dewey decimal numbering system with the strips? instead of #500, it could be 499.A001 or something to that affect.

  100. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Maggie Jochild: Who held the greater power in this relationships?

    A) Bruce Bechdel, who may have been David Douglas’s teacher or part time employer, or
    B) David Douglas, who most certainly could get Bruce Bechdel brought up before a judge by making a single call to the police

    I pick B.

    I think the situation is complicated. I see most things in moral terms and I’m unfashionably sex negative. But it doesn’t seem like the high-school boys Bruce Bechdel had affairs with were the kind of people who would not realize that they had a quite considerable power over him. That makes him seem like much less of a predator to me.

  101. Dianne says:

    Ok, here’s my suggestion. The underlying problem: I miss Madwimmen. Ok, so maybe it can’t come back per se, but can’t there be some sort of community based shop where various characters can meet casually? Maybe Lois should go ahead with her dream of a coffee shop*/vibrator/erotica store. June could be the financial backer–she needs a nice tax shelter, doesn’t she? Or maybe Emma is looking for something to amuse her in her middle age. Perhaps Lois would hire Jezanna and/or Mo. And while we’re reshuffling pairing…how about Mo and Clarice get together again after all these years?

    *Or maybe a coffee house, in the Dutch tradition?

  102. Colino says:

    @ Maggie Jochild and anonymous-eponymous

    It seems to me that the greatest danger with sentimental or sexual affairs with, say, youngsters, is that you can all too easily take from them something they’re not really willing to give. And I’m not even talking about power or things you can take from them through persuasion or psychological pressure or constraint; I’m talking about things they would hand out to you, so to speak, because they’d think they have to, or because they just don’t realize what it implies. And then they regret, and you never know how destructive it can get.

  103. Aunt Soozie says:

    Dear College Educated…don’t think I don’t know who you are…it’s rude to stalk people, even in cyberspace. You are a hypocrit yourself because your political rants are all empty rhetoric and all about being a hater. At the risk of sounding….horrors….politically correct or like those “kind of lesbians” that you hate…you oughta try a little love and forgiveness. As I’ve said more times than I care to remember, none of us are perfect, we’re all beautifully flawed…and that’s what makes us all human and valuable. You gotta learn to see people as whole entities, not just the black and white, we all suffer bleak mundane daily realities, we all have ugly scars and weaknesses, we all are blessed miraculous creatures. All of us. That sad heart of yours is closed like a fist and you continue to wound yourself the most.

    oh, and Cat Herder…will you marry me?

    in about, uhm, wait, 180 days minus about 30 days??

    I sure hope Alison doesn’t think you were joking about Lois’ titty flashing …we fans have gone too long without some gratuitous elitist titty flashing…oh, uhm, sorry for being so politically correct…at least I wear deodorant… anti-perspirant even, despite all the health warnings cause…I rather smell good than be healthy…I’m an America!

  104. Lauren says:

    Oh my gosh.

    To “College Educated” — Ha. You make me laugh for a tiny split second, before I realize you’re not even worth the energy my body might expend by laughing. And hey, I know a ‘p’ word for you: Pathetic!

    To Maggie Jochild:

    You wrote: “The question I return to is, what might my desire look like if I had not been instructed (positively or negatively) by those older and more powerful than me? I deserve to have that desire.” Wow. Subtract the word ‘positively’– and that statement put words to my feelings with a frightening precision. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight, because my brain will be very busy working out what you wrote. But thank you. Sometimes we need to go down those roads.

    And to anonymous-eponymous: I can’t believe any person could actually assert that a child or teenager has ‘power’ in a sexual relationship with an adult. Wow. Well. Predators think that way, I guess, as a way to rationalize what they’re doing. People completely un-informed about the ‘power’ element in sexually abusive relationships might think that way. But, in fact, ‘power’ is what the abuse is all about: Power the abuser wields over the child or teenager. The entire reason an abusive adult chooses to be sexual with a child or teenager, instead of with another adult, is the abuser’s need to exert power over his ‘victim.’

    But hey. There are lots of good books out there on the topic, that might help one understand the dynamic of abuse, and might help one become more compassionate toward teenagers who are victims of abuse. Compassion is always a very good thing.

  105. Ellen O. says:

    MC wrote: The rest of us will have our lesbians with great huge vocabularies and wits that never flag.

    Cool. Where can I pick up mine?

  106. AnnaP says:

    Dear “College Educated”, didn`t your mom/teacher/dad ever tell you that when you are writing an email or commenting someone elses text, you should imagine that the people you are talking to are sitting in the same room with you. Believe it or not these are real people, not cartoon characters here. Excuse my english, it is not my mother tongue and I never went to college. But I did learn to be respectfull on other people instead.

  107. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Lauren:

    When I was growing up our father beat us frequently with a yardstick or a belt. We were always forced to remove our pants or dresses and underwear and to lie down on the floor of the hallway. It was kind of like a flogging in the British Royal Navy, there was even a bit of ceremonial involved; probably the style of the punishment was influenced by the fact that my father was an officer in the United States Navy. My mother occasionally spanked us. I think that most of us more or less graduated from this style of punishment when we were about halfway through high-school. For the younger children this sort of punishment was phased out quite early, my younger sister, who was born when I was twelve, can’t remember anything about it.

    When I was a child I used to scream at them that this was child abuse and that I would report them. I don’t know where I had read about the concept of “child abuse” or gotten the idea that it was somehow reportable. My parents would scoff at me, deriding the very notion that what they were doing was “child abuse”, and pointing out that the consequences of me “reporting” anything would be that we would be taken to live in a foster home, “if we were lucky.” Otherwise, worse would befall us, it was implied.

    Perhaps the position of these high school boys seems much more powerful simply by the contrast. They were not dependent on Bruce Bechdel for food and shelter, they had not been brought up by him from infancy to believe the things that he believed, they were physically mature and quite likely just as strong as he was. They were not stupid or developmentally disabled.
    It is hard for me to believe that none of them were aware that they could call the police and get Bruce Bechdel in a lot of trouble, especially since one did. And although Bruce Bechdel may have done his best to forget that fact, he probably knew it too. If the ability to call the police on someone and get them called into court is not power of some sort, it’s not helplessness either.

    (I once asked a gay man of my acquaintance, “Why are gay men so obsessed with straight men?” He considered for a second and then said, “Probably because there are so many more of them.” Sometimes it’s a good idea to look for the simple explanation. There has been a resurgence of attacks of mountain lions on human beings in Colorado and other places. There have been all sorts of esoteric theories put forward about why this should be the case. But here’s a good, simple, theory. The lions are hunting, the human beings are meat, and, because they have been protected by various environmental agencies, the lions have not learned a fear of humans. They see a cyclist or jogger and think, “Yummm. Tasty protein.”. The simple explanation for Bruce Bechdel’s behavior is that he saw an attractive young man in his class and thought, “Hot. And in the neighborhood.”)

    Power imbalance is a fact of life. My girlfriend is a good deal stronger than me. Sometimes we argue, and she doesn’t beat me up. She could, some do, but she forebears. I think the question is not who has the power, but who abuses it.

    When I was 18 I started dating an older man. He was 21, a junior in college when I was a sophomore. It’s not the kind of situation that raises red flags for a lot of people. But I was, partly because of the socialization I had received, a natural victim, and he, partly because of the socialization he had received, was a natural exploiter. It was bad; and I’m sure I’m permanently affected by the experience. But in my naivete, my learned unwillingness to complain or seek help, and my solitariness (my parents had no time for their individual children since we were so many, we learned from an early age not to seek help from them, and my baby sister broke her collarbone twice without my mother even noticing) I was quite possibly more vulnerable then these high school boys. At the same time my boyfriend had a free rein as, in a college dorm setting, there was absolutely no oversight. Again, perhaps by contrast, I see these boys as having more, rather than less power than I had.

    To maintain that they had absolutely no power and that Bruce Bechdel had all the power is to shoehorn the situation into a particular model that many are socialized to believe is the _only_ model, and to disregard the obvious facts that are a matter of police record.

    If, you ask me, “Are you saying that it was OK for him to do this, then?”, I would answer, “No. It was morally reprehensible. For a ton of reasons.”

    Although you are not saying it directly, the subtext of your final paragraph is that I have no compassion and don’t know anything about the awfulness of the sexual abuse of children. I will say, explicitly, that I understand about the awfulness of the sexual abuse of young children. I was lucky enough myself to be never so abused, but I’m widely read and my girlfriend works in a medical lab which sometimes must test very small children for signs of sexual abuse. It’s terrible.

    I will not defend myself against the implied attack on my character. What’s the point?

  108. mlk says:

    I’m uncomfortable with readers discussing Bruce Bechdel’s sexuality — and how it relates to larger issues — on Alison’s blog. That doesn’t mean the issues shouldn’t be aired, I just don’t think this is an appropriate forum.

    Alison and her family are dealing with the effects of her having shared intimate information with a wide audience. That information’s out there, and has given us plenty to think about.

    I love the breadth of discussion on Alison’s blog and am grateful to have a forum for hearing viewpoints on controversial topics. But to speculate about any of the dynamics in the Bechdel family or comment on their motivations — seems to me that’s no way to thank Alison for her openness and honesty.

  109. College Educated says:

    Someone in this blog accused me of stalking because they did not like my comments and found them hateful. If I wanted to stalk anyone I would give out my email and wait for some responses from this blog where I would have personal information to engage to do it. I get very tired of listening to gay political rhetoric and the psuedo-activism that serves more to impress others where the platform serves as a flimsy cover for meeting women. I’m NOT giving out my email!

    I really wish the gay political rhetoric would finds its way out of the nooks and crannies of academia or those eclectic coffee houses and transform into political action and social change for those who suffer from discrimination based on homophobia.

    I have been a victim of homophobia for most of my adult life where I have been fired from numerous jobs not because of my work performance but because I didn’t fit the “mold”, and did not subscribe to the company’s unspoken “core” values (because I wasn’t married, I had no boyfriend and had no kids like my other female coworkers). I have always been the only female professional in my workplace. I never revealed any aspects of my personal life in the workplace but the fact that I was a female in a traditionally male dominated profession caused unfair speculation and assumptions about my personal life.

    In addition to workplace homophobia, I have also had to endure that treatment in places where I have done business where I have been denied service at restaurants where nobody wanted to take my order if I was out with someone. I was also denied a place to live where the property management did not even review my rental application but said ‘we don’t want your “kind”‘. I have also come out to my car and found a condom in the windshield (obviously someone thought that all I needed was a real man). I have been treated worse than a criminal so don’t call me a stalker!

    I’m sure that many of you can relate to some of my experiences but have any of your ever empathized with a sister who has had to struggle to survive because people were out to eradicate my existence? I can answer that and say NO where the gay/lesbian community did not care what was happening to women in the community outside of their meetings, dances and socials (which doesn’t pay the bills). The gay community was unable to empathize or understand and in many respects slammed the door in my face.

    A conservative or religiously biased individual who is prejudiced and discriminates anainst gays does not know any better and has probably been culturally deprived, where I can understand why they have their beliefs but what really hurts worse than the homophobia are the gay women who acted so evolved, so cool and politically correct who knew better, but didn’t care.

  110. Gina says:

    Amen, College Educated has some good points because many of us are guilty of being complacent by taking what little rights we have for granted! The energy and time spent making a living takes up about two-thirds of our waking hours. For some of us not so fortunate the workplace is like being in hell, when coworkers become adversarial and will exclude you from the group as if you’re invisible or a non-person. Not getting support or understanding from gay groups (who have cried discrimination against others so many times) can hurt worse than what the homophobics have do to us out of ignorance.

  111. Tracey says:

    It hurts when nobody talks to you at work and there is no one you can talk to or trust that would understand. Not being invited to the company picnic, the Christmas party or the ski outing does hurt. Even if you didn’t want to go it would be nice to get asked like everyone else.

  112. Leslie says:

    I work hard for my money and like to go out to a restaurant with my partner when we have a little extra from our paychecks. Dining out is not cheap and should be a pleasnat experiences but many times becomes frustrating when the waiter or waitress is uncomfortable with our presence and does not want to come to our table. Not being waited on for 20-30 minutes when others who come in after us get service and no follow up on our beverages or meal but the check always seems to arrives at our table faster than McD’s.

    I can only recall a couple of isolated DTWOF episodes where there was discrimination in two strips with Lois, when she doing a kiss-in at a mall at Christmas and kissed Emma and when she went to the movies with Mo and a frat boy corner made a kissing sound when they walked by.

    Another early episode of DTWOF was the trip to march in Washington when Mo, Harriet, Clarice, Toni and Lois were at a diner in the midwest and felt uncomfortable. At one point Harriet was ready to square off with a couple of cowboy looking gay guys, whom she mistook them for a couple of redneck homophobics.

    Those episodes from those vintage strips still are realities that many of us women still face today. No dyke in the strip has ever lost their job over sexual orientation, been denied services where they do business or ever been harassed. They rant and rave at CNN and the six o’clock news as Harriet once asserted to Mo but the issues never really reach home where the DTWOF lives in a bubble world that keeps us reading with wishful envy.

  113. --MC says:

    All right, you’ve suffered. Sorry to hear it. So why turn up here slashing about somebody’s choice of words? What brought that on?
    Maybe your local community didn’t take up your cause, but what did you ever do for them? Did you put in any time on the barricades, or just expect to show up and have them fight your fight?
    The strip is not all things to all people. Not enough reflection of the world’s hostility in it for you? Here’s the paper, here’s a pen.

  114. College Educated says:

    I outed myself to loacl newspapers, wrote many letters in support of gay rights, gay marriages and being able to partake in the same freedoms and liberties as any heterosexual. Same-sex couples don’t receive the support and validation from family, friends and employers that straight couples traditionally do and many times I pointed out that the gay community needed to address those issues. I even tried to start a lesbian couples support group to encourage couples to validate one another’s relationships as straight people do. I tried to enlist the support of lesbian college professors and gay professionals in positions to make a difference but none were interested. I watched the gay community in my former state stand by and allow conservative bible-banging Christians to poison the air, push the same sex-marriage ban until it became law. I pleaded with them to DO SOMETHING, raise money and educate the community the facts and not urban myth. For many many years I tried to help and to make a difference but it was not appreciated.

    In addition to all the cruelty and abuse I took, I even recieved hate mail in cyberspace at my alma mater where I was threatened with grave physical harm if I stayed in school. The gay community showed no compassion or concern for their beleagered sister.

    Lastly, I have every f&%$ing right to be angry with lesbians and to condemn them to their face or in cyberspace and that doesn’t make me a stalker for being honest. Being honest is the whole point and I have paid my dues for that!

  115. Anonymous says:

    College Educated: I am sorry that you are such an angry person. If you would imagine yourself and your rhetoric as part of D2WO4, how do you think that character would come off?

    Would the character be sympathetic? Would the character be inspiring? Would the character seem like a natural-born leader who would get something accomplished?

    If not, and I think not, remember that we are all in control of our own behavior and how we respond to the world. If you want to be more effective, do not look at the way others respond to you, look at the way you respond to others. You can modify the behavior of others only by modifying your own.

    Can we get back to discussing D2WO4, please? Is there a moderator here?

  116. --MC says:

    Lastly, I have every f&%$ing right to be angry with lesbians and to condemn them to their face or in cyberspace and that doesn’t make me a stalker for being honest.

    I have a correspondent who makes a point of his honesty and his integrity whenever he writes to me. He carries on saying things that are mostly eccentric and sometimes flat-out stupid (he’s very big on the “AIDS is not caused by HIV” theory), but if anybody steps up to tell him he’s full of foolishness, he cuts them off. He’s a cartoonist, so I’ve watched him burn bridges with several cartoon groups, both on the net and in his hometown, because people don’t treat him with enough “respect” —
    Which is fine for him, because it adds another onionskin layer to the ball of persecution that he has in his head.
    Again, I’m sorry you’ve had some reversals, but please examine your reaction to them — are you locked into victim-brain mode? is it tiny violin time all the time with you? And if you’re so f&%$ing angry at lesbians, what do you want from us here? Do you want us to make you Pope, and give you command of the tides?
    “Stalker” is not the word, but you are an odd addition to the usual rota of posters here.

  117. Suzanonymous says:

    Just reading several of these new entries very quickly, so I hope I’m not repeating stuff that’s already been said.

    College Educated, I took verbal torment for over a year from an employer and he backed off (well, he’d try it every week or two again after this) after I started standing up, literally, to him. I was rehearsing at home getting up and leaving, but all I ever got to was standing up. He was sometimes visibly shaking during these standing up incidents. Quite revealing and at some point I was on the bus and overheard a construction-type straight guy talking about how when a boss is giving you abuse, you need to STAND UP. He kept repeating this. He wasn’t trying to find some reason he was being abused, and he wasn’t saying it was okay — he was pissed. Another thing I did was tape record the conversations (legal in my state) and review them later. My boss just sounded like a guy who liked to boss people around and feel superior, which was a jarring effect because I didn’t get that effect in the situation because I was feeling what it was doing to me (I was losing sleep and feeling inferior, run down, on-the-run). Some people are destructive and find what they figure is the safest target. Unsurprisingly I did get laid off eventually, but he did give me a glowing recommendation. (About the “lesbian elitists who think they’re so evolved and with it one single bit,” perhaps these are attractive posers and superiority-junkies? Look around for some less attractive types?) You Mileage May Vary on both of these points.

    Maggie Jochild, I agree with the idea that Bruce Bechdel was a pedophile. What was the background of these boys? Were they whipped as small children or otherwise didn’t think with a clear head when dealing with authorities? He was a teacher at their school, had the power to give them an F in English and to make up stories to tell the principal to get them expelled from school. When you were abused, authority knows no limits in your mind. Even if they had not known abuse, they were young and may have thought these were learning experiences only later to find out the experience had damaged them, haunted them. I think this a valid point of discussion because it is a big weak spot in Fun Home. Another weak spot is the lack of any consideration of gay-bashing being threatened on Bruce, him jumping backward because he spotted someone lying in wait to make good on his recent threats, revenging what was done to someone’s youth (the victim or a friend of the victim, or maybe a few of them). Meanwhile pages and pages of consideration were given to the number and type of books Bruce Bechdel read. That said, Fun Home still was a worthwhile read.

    Thanks for reading, I usually detest long comments, but I was reading quite a few of them today.

  118. Jana C.H. says:

    I agree with MLK on the subject of discussing Bruce Bechdel’s sexuality. It shouldn’t necessarily be off-limits because it is a major theme of FUN HOME, but we should remember that these are not fictional characters. They are real people, intimately connected with someone many of us have come to respect and care about as an individual.

    I thought Suzanonymous’s last letter was a good one, clearly literary criticism, not personal gossip. It’s a delicate distinction, and I don’t know quite where to draw the line. I don’t think anyone here has actually crossed it, and I’m sure Alison wouldn’t want us to censor ourselves. It’s just a matter of remembering to ask the question that is so easy to forget on-line: Would I say this to Alison face-to-face?

    Jana C.H. “the Cartographer”
    Seattle
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor

  119. mlk says:

    Suzanonymous, thanks for giving College Educated some constructive feedback. I was wondering if anyone was going to take her seriously and do something other than blaming her for her own misfortunes.

    Oh, and I was taken by comments that “Anonymous” contributed.

    just because I/we don’t suffer discrimination, this doesn’t mean that others don’t. those who do certainly need support from the community.

    on another topic, I’ve been uncomfortable with the whole gay marriage issue because it gives legal rights to those who want to fit into a heterosexual norm. to my mind, there’s too much diversity in the GLBT community for that to be acceptable. rather than telling straight society “we’re like you” I think we need to return to the message that “we’re people who deserve basic human rights.” or “basic legal rights.”

    I *think* that’s a message that we were using at one time . . . it got a broader support than the gay marriage issue and, as I remember, didn’t result in those awful state constitutional amendments.

    my understanding of straight marriages is that (most) are inherently non-egalitarian. there’s a tacit assumption that what the man wants is more important than what the woman wants in the relationship . . . and that if this isn’t the case, there’s something wrong with the man who allows his wife to dominate him. certainly not all straight marriages are like this, but many straight women are still struggling to have their needs/desires recognized and honored, and American society is supporting males in this struggle.

    I don’t see marriage as a useful paradigm for GLBT couples and it certainly won’t lead to the recognition of commitments-made-by-more-than-two-people that someone was anticipating in an earlier thread. (sorry, I can’t find the term in my brain OR the blog!) I have a hunch that Americans are NOT going to go for polygamy, even though it was practiced extensively in the Bible.

    I know there are plenty of folks out there who will disagree with this point of view. if you’re gonna throw rocks, please aim high (to go over the head, not in the face!).

  120. mlk says:

    OK, that last comment was off topic. I’ve just been wanting to say it for a long time. feels good to get it off my chest.

    Jana C.H., you seem to understand what I was getting at. you certainly articulated what I left unsaid. I posted about the subject because I’ve been wondering how Alison feels about having her father labeled a pedophile.
    as I recall, she doesn’t subscribe to that point of view in the book.

    we don’t know her opinion on the subject, do we? if the subject is a sensitive one for her, do you think she’d say something in the blog? should she have to?

    (uh oh, I’m getting pretty insistent about this . . . I’m really not out to criticize anyone)

    thank you, Suzanonymous, for stating why you think the issue is a valid point of discussion. what you’ve said makes sense.

  121. Suzanonymous says:

    mlk, thanks for your feedback. Just to clarify a bit, here:

    Your earlier comment was that Alison’s blog is an inappropriate place to talk about her family skeletons. On the one hand, like you, I feel it’s a bit inappropriate myself. Maybe email would have been better. On the other hand, what is a more public way to talk about something than to write about it extensively in a book, as Alison did? It is now open to reviewer comment and blog comments.

    Someone commented here that Mr. Bechdel and those boys were on equal footing and I disagree and so I said so. I love Alison’s work and she took great pains to keep Fun Home real but she missed the reality points I mentioned. Nobody is perfect and I think in the long run she’ll take such points of view into consideration in her future works.

    Another point in favor of blog commenting versus emailing: Alison’s feelings is one thing but there is a possibility that some teens are reading this blog. Their feelings matter, too. Suppose at least some found the idea of a school teacher having sex with a student disturbing, or even who had that experience and found the situation unequal, alienating, and disturbing. Then, reading this blog and feeling alienated seeing the consensus seemed to be that there is no big deal about that student-teacher situation, I couldn’t let the comment stand that there was no uneven unfair power dynamic going on, because I strongly disagree.

    Teenagers, I think you have a right to your own live’s unfolding, sexual and otherwise, without grownups horning in on your development with their own plans and manipulations, especially those who have the mantle of authority in your lives.

    Aware that very few people are reading this old blog entry at this point, oh well. Suzanne

  122. mlk says:

    Suzanonymous, I’m still reading — in part, to see if anyone bites on the gay marriage topic.

    I thought what I was saying might be controversial, but nobody’s offered any argument. maybe my comments are so patently obvious that nobody feels a need to say anything.

    For what it’s worth, I appreciate your looking out for younger bloggers who may surf through the site. when I commented, I was thinking more of Alison’s family — they might be distressed to have their father/husband referred to as a pedophile. it may confirm their worst prejudices against Alison’s blog supporters.

    perhaps I’m too concerned with what others may be feeling . . . or concerned with the “wrong” set of “others.” I, personally, would have preferred that pedophilia not be brought up _in this forum_. but it was, and I understand your wanting to speak up.

    I heartily agree with your message to younger readers. I know of a person who was sexually molested by a male teacher in high school and as a result believed that he was gay. it took him several years to come back to himself and recognize his own heterosexuality. I know another person who lived as a gay man after he was gang raped by his male peers in high school — it was apparently unthinkable to them that he was still a virgin and decided to remedy his “unnatural” state. later in life he had an epiphany that led him to leave his male lover and eventually marry.

    it’s horrible/outrageous when a person is on some sort of a power trip or so narcissitic that they take advantage of others. for some who’ve been exploited, these experiences take them down a path that they wouldn’t have followed otherwise. others might have taken this path eventually, but weren’t allowed to discover and explore it in their own time.

    but now I think I’m repeating what others have already said . . .

  123. Suzanonymous says:

    mlk, thanks for the additional comments. Very sad about the guy who got raped, especially.

    I don’t feel strongly about gay marriage so I didn’t feel strongly about your comments about it. But I must admit I get all teary eyed at some of these marriages on tv. It’s clearly what those couples wanted and it’s so touching to see them get what they’ve been wanting that straight people have without thinking twice about their right to have it.

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