February 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized

maggie detail
My colleague Matt Madden teaches an experimental comics class at the School of Visual Arts called The Obstacle Course. He just gave the class an assignment to do an “appropriation” comic, where they took one or more existing works and transformed them into something new. (Like Garfield Minus Garfield.) One of his students, Maggie Siegel-Berele, turned in this hilarious appropriation of an old Dykes To Watch Out For episode combined with art from an old Flash comic.

Here’s Mo in the 1987 strip, Angst in Right Field:
mo detail

Maggie had been hoping to use a Flash scene with two women talking to each other in it, so she could do a take on the Bechdel rule…but no surprise, she couldn’t find any images of two women in conversation. So she went with this soliloquy of Mo’s. Maggie says, “It was a lot of fun swiping ‘Barry is late – I’m never calling him again!’ with Mo’s political rant.”

Here’s Maggie’s whole scene. And the original DTWOF episode.

Matt’s teaching a special Obstacle Course workshop at the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art in NYC this week. He’s a smart and awesome teacher, with a special interest in constrained writing/drawing techniques. You should go take it!

58 Responses to “appropriation”

  1. Renee S. says:

    ooh ooh. I’m first. I love it!!! I think I’ll try this with something!

  2. Andi says:

    Ahhh, this made me miss Mo and DTWOF! And I love that she’s in the OUTfield. Snerk.

  3. Anthony says:

    A more modern Flash comic from the 90s or 2000s might’ve been more likely to include two women talking to each other, though the art in those Flash comics probably isn’t as distinctive as Carmine Infantino’s run on the title (least IMO). Still, pretty fun!

  4. rinky says:

    That course sounds fantastic. Bit far away for me though. Should I be admitting I don’t know about old Flash comics?

  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    Hey, Mo’s not wearing her stripes! I didn’t remember that. Guess it’s time to start rereading the early DTWOFs. I’ll bet ksbel6 puts one of those Batwimmin softball jerseys on next year’s Santa list.

    As for the transformation, it’s a wonderful juxtaposition of text and images. Illustrations of women like these used to be the norm, e.g. the Bonwit Teller sketches in newspaper advertisements. Pairing the ultra-femme with Mo’s rant is brilliant.

    (… goes back to awaiting Mentor’s deft broom … oh wait, now in preview, I see he’s already cleaned house. Thank you Mentor!)

  6. Fester Bestertester says:

    Flash Comics??

    Why would Mo want to appear in red tights adorned with lightning bolts??

    (what…? wait…. oh, you mean those Flash comics…)

    never mind…

    ([mutter,mutter,mutter] you kids today….)

  7. ksbel6 says:

    Not even kidding, that panel was my first choice when I purchased my original art from AB. Unfortunately, someone else had already nabbed it. I ended up with a great calendar page though where Mo is complaining about the fact that the coach is subbing in such a way as to actually produce a win for the team. It is terrific. Looks great on my living room wall too!
    Oh, and I would totally pay for a Batwimmin softball jersey.

  8. Ian says:

    What’s that website where you can upload your own designs for t-shirts and mugs and things? Although I have a feeling you’d need AB’s permission, I could imagine a Batwimmin t-shirt being a big seller round here …

  9. Marj says:

    What HoH said. Awesome indeed.

  10. Guitr3Mick says:

    A bit off topic, but I’m working on a corallary of the Bechdel Rule that has to do with women and guitars in art: a woman must actually be playing a guitar, not just holding a guitar or standing with a guy playing a guitar. It’s also preferable if she’s wearing actual clothes, not a plastic bustier. Do a Google image search for “guitar girl” and you’ll see what I mean. Searching for “guitar woman” yields equally poor results!

  11. Ginjoint says:

    Ian, there’s Cafe Press and Zazzle. I purchased a pair of Keds with an 18th century astronomy map on them from Zazzle, and was quite satisfied. You bring up interesting ideas…but yeah, of course permission required.

  12. Ginjoint says:

    These appropriation comics remind me of the “TV Funhouse: Fun With Real Audio” cartoons that ran on Saturday Night Live. Apropos of nothing, really.

  13. ksbel6 says:

    @Batwimmin shirt: I want an actual jersey, not just a tshirt. Preferably button-front. I feel like it should be heather gray with black writing (possibly a Gothic Font).

  14. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Guitr3Mick (#10)

    It doesn’t even have to be art (art with a capital “A”) that skews images of women and guitars, it could be simply the sexist rules of commerce.

    My favorite female guitarist is Sharon Isbin (sorry Renee!). Take a look at the press photos on her website, They are an astounding variety of “Come hither” sexually-suggestive poses of Sharon with guitar (especially those taken by J. Henry Fair). Fortunately, the shot of her in that series actually playing while wearing jeans made the album cover.

    Oh, for ksbel6… there’s something for you on Sharon’s website too. Check out her photos with Joan Baez.

    Now about those “Come hither” shots… I do confess that a few of them are right up my alley (e.g. Sharon and the fireplace), but then again I think Sharon is plenty hot without burning embers in the background. Nice Jewish girl, lesbian, attractive, musically interesting, lives in my city… alas, she’s spoken for.

    (… goes back to daydreaming …)

  15. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ginjoint (#12)

    Crossing genres a bit, there’s the 1966 Woody Allen transformation classic, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. Allen took a third-rate Japanese James Bond-type movie and replaced the soundtrack. They are on a global hunt for an egg salad recipe. “Did you bring the mayonnaise? No, we use Miracle Whip!”

  16. Feminista says:

    I remembered the gist of this particular Mo-rant,and find it relevant today; no surprise there.

    @Alex: So how’s this for a scenario: Lois travels to Madison in solidarity with the workers and Mo delivers an impassioned speech at her union meeting,Local 99 of the Bookworkers,Booksellers,and Word Mavens,affiliated with the UAW (United Auto Workers,who represent the National Writers’Union).

    Raffi,Stella,J.R.,Stuart,Gloria and Toni travel to the state capitol for a support rally,where they meet Sparrow for lunch. She’s doing her monthly pro-choice lobbying,and also has managed to convince the state-operated cafe,The Political Palate,to offer organic and vegan options,as well as expand the vegetarian choices beyond cottage cheese salad plates. Stuart wanted her to push for a locavore menu,but she wisely decided that wasn’t possible now.

    Clarice gets so mad at Sydney for going off into another post-modern ponderous musing that Syd decides to donate her next six month’s electronic toy and general gadgetry budget to the Wisconsin workers.

    Others want to chime in?

  17. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Aw, I love that rant in outfield. If memory serves, that was my first DTWOF strip, viewed in the calendar at the house of a couple of dyke friends who worked for Digital Equipment Corp. (R.I.P., Ken Olsen.)

  18. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry (#17)

    Old DEChead here… started out with the PDP-8. I still deal with a few VAXen at work running OpenVMS. I can write real programs in DCL, and I even have a PC emulation of DCL for those times when I need to get things done in Windoze that would otherwise be impossible or kludgy.

    Olsen’s passing didn’t get much attention in the press. Perhaps the same fate awaits Gates or Jobs, assuming they make it to their mid-80s. Technology marches on.

    (… fires up TECO, and types “make love” …)

  19. NLC says:

    I understand that Guitr3Mick’s original question was about the depiction of women guitarists in art, but to follow up hoh’s comment about examples of living guitarists…

    Those of us old enough to recall when Charo (i.e. she of the “goochy-goochy girl”) first started appearing on American TV in the 1960’s (on the arm of the bandleader Xavier Cugat) may recall that, on occasion, those appearances would include a few minutes of Charo playing classical guitar; providing those of us lucky enough to catch it with a fleeting glimpse of what a truly amazing talent she was.

    (As a much more recent example, here’s a video of her playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra –a piece famous as a challenge for any guitarist– at a casino in Las Vegas.)

    I suppose that, all told, this could quite probably be said to make Guitr3Mick’s point better than any other example I could come up with. But I’ve always found it unspeakably sad that this fine musician was turned into this caricature.

  20. Suzanonymous says:

    I think the transformation comic would have been better if it’d mentioned current events instead of keeping Ollie North. Plenty going on today. Maybe the assignment is very stringent. Surely the cartoon art did not have to remain untouched. Say a spike haired person in the background toward the end instead of that guy.. Maybe I don’t understand the assignment.

  21. hairball_of_hope says:

    @NLC (#19)

    I recall Charo being mentioned in the long thread that morphed into a discussion about hand size, gender, and guitar-playing:

    And for Guitr3Mick, check out Kat’s post in this thread above the one I’ve linked… there’s a great bit of art showing a woman playing a lute. Granted, it’s a relative of the guitar, but it’s close enough.

    (… goes off looking for someone to whisper “cutchi cutchi” to me …)

  22. ksbel6 says:

    @21: Ah yes, the string in which Dr. E and I got into trouble for mentioning hand size…sorry again Renee S. You are correct, if I wanted to win the “expert level” songs I could just practice more.

    Now, back to the most important topic ever to cross this blog…when do I get to purchase my Batwimmin softball jersey?

  23. Kate L says:

    When I saw the cartoon drawing of the lady with the beehive hairdo in the dress and heels, I thought that A.B. had found the recently-suggested dress code for Moo U teachers recommended by our new governor, conservative Sam Brownback! How do you walk in high heels? Carefully!

    Rachel Maddow (ok, now I have a mental image of Rachel in a dress and high heels. Sorry! ๐Ÿ™ ) has posted a warning on her own maddowblog that America is falling behind in fake achievements (the Russians are midway through a two-year simulated mission to Mars). As a geology instructor, I have to fight a lot of misconceptions among our youth. Some of them think that evolution does not happen, or that global warming is some kind of commo-fascist agitprop*, or that the Moon landings never happened, despite the recent photographic evidence from lunar orbit to the contrary. But the Russian Mars mission is definitely pretend. Itโ€™s meant as practice for the real thing, just to see if the Mars cosmonauts would go nuts if locked up together for two years. Anyway, here is Dr. Maddowโ€™s take on all that.

    * โ€“ Agitprop. Ask your parents or grandparents, young ones.

    Mentor, I accidentally posted this as post #120 in the previous blog string (“A Laureate and Some Evidence”). Btw, recently Mentor revealed that he is a fan of the Jimmy Stewart movie, Harvey. That got me to thinking… in the movie, Harvey was a spirit who appeared “now and then, here and there, to this one and that one…” Omg! Do you think? I do! Mentor is Harvey!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Alex K says:

    @15 / H_o_H: The title of “that Woody Allen transformation classic, Whatโ€™s Up, Tiger Lily?” (sic) — no comma.


  25. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Alex K (#24)

    Nope, there IS a comma in the title. Check IMDB:

    I specifically verified two bits of info before I posted… the year (I thought it was released in 1967, since that’s when I first saw the film), and the presence/absence of a comma. I was informed by IMDB that the release year was 1966, and there is a comma in the title.

    AB’s cartoon which asks, “Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?” describes me to a T. Sigh.

    Of course, I describe myself as anal-compulsive, an amalgam of anal-retentive and obsessive-compulsive. Or is it obsessive compulsive, with no hyphen? ARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!

    (… goes off screaming just like the classic Munch graphic …)

  26. Alex K says:

    @25 / H_o_H: Communication 24 — failed joke. Please delete all records of same.

  27. Fester Bestertester says:

    Alex #24/26:
    Some of us got it.
    (sigh… I miss the 6th grade…)

  28. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Alex K (#24, 26)

    Oh. My FAIL. I was at work and my brain was not in randy mode. Sorry. You can continue your **snerking**.

    Allen’s choice of title was loosely based on the 1965 Peter Sellers film, What’s New Pussycat? (no comma), for which Allen was the screenwriter and had his first film acting role.

    And anal person that I am, I noted that the preferred format for the Internet Movie Database acronym is IMDb, but I had already hit ‘Post’ by the time I realized my error.

    Two FAILs in one post… I might get my membership in SNiP (Society for NitPicking) revoked.

    (… goes back to her overly-hyphenated existence …)

  29. Kate L says:

    Dr. Rachel Maddow used the word “pixelated” on the air tonight!!!! Gosh, I can recall a time back in the dark ages (the 80’s), when I thought that I had orginated “pixelated” to described low-resolution images on those new-fangled matrix television screens. And, people say that my life isn’t working out! Ha! Ha, I say! ๐Ÿ™‚ Time to get some coffee, black, from the replicator! Oh, wait, they haven’t invented replicator technology, yet…

  30. Ginjoint says:

    Renee, that video kicked ass.

    That is all.

  31. Andi says:

    Kate @30 – My current favorite word is “twitterpated,” a term which has relatively little to do with Twitter.

    BTW, Dear DTWOF Friends, I’m going to be in the New York Times (yes, the New York freaking Times) Home Section this Thursday, in the Q&A, talking about my blog and my experiences of “home” since my house burned down in September. Yeeks. Last week’s Q&A was with Dr. Ruth; this week it’s me. Life is SO surreal these days.

    Thanks for all your great support these past few months, gals n’ guyz!


  32. Alex K says:

    @30 / Kate L — Spelling difference, none in pronunciation: Cary Grant’s murderous aunts in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE are pixilated. Off with the pixies. Second vowel, “i”. Interviewees granted visual anonymity by electronic techniques have their faces pixelated. Altered in pixel pattern. Second vowel, “e”.

    Our language is a trap and a snare and a horror.

  33. ksbel6 says:

    @Andi: Good for you, that’s terrific!

  34. Kate L says:

    Bad news and worse news: According to a recent poll, 51% of likely Republican presidential primary voters think that President Obama was born in another country. The worse news? A majority of that 51% think that the foreign country he was born in was the State of Hawaii!

    Ok, I made up the last part. The first part is what the poll really showed, though! ๐Ÿ™

  35. hairball_of_hope says:

    More bad news… SCOTUS ruled in favor of the Westboro crazies, shielding them from tort claims in their protests at military funerals. The decision was 8-1 (Alito dissenting!), and was written very narrowly.

    Quoting from the decision excerpt in the Washington Post:

    “Our holding today is narrow. We are required in First Amendment cases to carefully review the record, and the reach of our opinion here is limited by the particular facts before us. As we have noted, ‘the sensitivity and significance of the interests presented in clashes between First Amendment and [state law] rights counsel relying on limited principles that sweep no more broadly than the appropriate context of the instant case.’ Florida Star v. B. J. F., 491 U. S. 524, 533 (1989).”


  36. Dr. Empirical says:

    Bigoted scumbags have a right to free speech too.

  37. ksbel6 says:

    Yep, I agree with the decision. I hate what they are saying, but I believe in their right to say it.

  38. ksbel6 says:

    Alito would probably love to limit speech.

  39. Andrew B says:

    I agree with with ksbel6 and Dr E, especially ksbel6’s point in 39. The WBC is vile, but the law they make use of is standard Constitutional and Civil Rights law. I have never heard any suggestion as to how the WBC could be restrained without creating a mechanism to restrain serious protest.

    Racists, misogynists, homophobes, and other oppressors are sincerely offended by the idea that blacks, etc, are their equals. And plenty of them would have said that the respective justice movements could not possibly be serious — e.g. that blacks were perfectly happy under Jim Crow and any impression to the contrary was caused by “outside agitators” stirring up trouble. So you can’t draw a distinction between the WBC and justice movements based either on offensiveness or seriousness.

    The thing that most scares me about the WBC is that they could provide an excuse for the likes of Alito to start cutting into fundamental rights. Foul as they are, they will never accomplish anything directly. I’m actually relatively relieved that Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas voted with the majority.

  40. Andi says:

    34:ksbel6 Thanks!

    And here’s the link to the article,

    Nellie the Mexican Rescue Dog Makes the NY Times! Woot.

  41. ready2agitate says:

    Go SCOTUS. What Andrew said.

    Now to read Andi’s NYT story.

    And thanks Renee – rockin’ indeed! (I’ve seen some of those wimmin in the vid – Mimi Fox, June Millington, not so partial to a certain sound of electric guitar. Some of my faves will always be Rory Block and Patty Larkin, but then again, I’m in Massachusetts!

  42. freyakat says:

    @41 Andi and Nellie the Wonder Dog: Yay for seeing both of you in the paper that has “All the News That’s Fit to Print” (that’s from a while back)!

    How does it feel to be in the NYT? I’m guessing that it could feel a tad strange — a different type of exposure, so to speak — since your blog
    comes from you rather than from an intermediary.
    In any case, I wish you continued strength in the
    months to come as you continue the hard process of building and constructing what will be in time fodder for new memories, and in unearthing old memories and feelings.

    On a not-unrelated front: over the past year I have watched a number of films by the director
    Jia Zhangke, who makes partially documentary films that focus on what happens to people as
    their entire landscape (in China)gets erased and redesigned. He says that it is hard to fathom what it feels like to have the village of your childhood and young adulthood simply not there anymore…

  43. Kat says:

    NPR ran a story about the WBC yesterday. Like many, I had assumed that it was a fairly large congregation. It turns out that they number less than 100 and most if not all of the members are part of the Phelps family.

    On one hand, I’m glad that they’re not some giant organization, but on the other, I’m even more horrified and disgusted that one family has created so much pain for the rest of the country.

    Does anyone know if this was in the actual SCOTUS decision, or if it was a verbal commentary: NPR also mentioned that some states have created “buffer zone” laws, saying that one may not protest within X feet of a funeral, and that those statutes are not in jeopardy because of the court’s decision.

    Andi: Thank you for linking to your story. When I was in elementary school, there was a giant fire in the Oakland/Berkeley hills, here in CA. I know several people who lost their homes, and very few, if any, are able to speak so eloquently about the experience.

  44. Kate L says:

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as declared the eastern cougar to be extinct.Well, a few years ago, I was driving my car on a lonely strecth of state highway between Smallville and I-70, when I saw a large animal blocking the road. It was bigger than the biggest dog. It was a cat with tan fur, with dark tips at the ends of its ears and tail. It tried to stare down my car, then lost interest and walked off the road when my car didn’t try to challenge it or to run away. Cougars live!

  45. NLC says:

    A couple other interesting things I learned from the NPR story on the WBC that on Kat#44 mentions above:

    1] The organization seems to be almost wholly self-supporting because quite a few members of the Phelps family are (apparently quite well-paid) lawyers.

    (Jokes left to the discretion of the reader.)

    2] But the most interesting point was the description of their “theological stance” as described by the WBC spokeswoman in the story.

    That is, while I’m not familiar with their literature, I guess I would have assumed that they saw their mission as something like: To use their obscene antics in an attempt to “force America to see the evil of its ways” and “turn away from sin”.

    But, no. As I understood what she said, they certainly see their role as being as offensive as possible, but with goal of “hardening the heart” of the listener. Thereby guaranteeing that they –the listener– would reject God and, so, be ensured of going to hell.

    (I’ve never been much of a believer in the Last Judgment. But I have to admit that I would kinda like to be standing off to the side, listening, as Rev Phelps comes before the Throne of Glory to make his case.)

  46. Dr. Empirical says:

    Kat: My understanding is that the SCOTUS opinion specifically stated that it applied only to that case, and shouldn’t be considered as precedent for other cases. It also specifically mentioned the buffer zones, strongly implying approval of them.

    NLC: I’d often heard that the Phelpses supported themselves largely from the proceeds of lawsuits resulting from their protests. According to the NPR story, while they’ve made tens of thousands by suing people who tried to interfere with their protests, they spend hundreds of thousands traveling around protesting. They make their money through their law practice.

    So they’re actual hatemongers. They aren’t just in it for the money.

  47. Ready2Agitate says:

    Infomaniacs, Cartoon-o-philes, and those who like distractions, can someone help me locate a cartoon drawing from 1974 that depicts two INS officers written by “Shake 1974” ?(I believe the artist was Peter Gray.)

    The two INS goons (“INS” is written on their hats) are ransacking an office, one tossing file folders over his shoulder, and the other walking toward the reader through a door holding something like a passport. (INS = Immigration & Naturalization Services, which got folded into today’s Dept. Homeland Security)

    I am doing a somewhat historical accounting of one organization’s immigrant rights struggle and and finding that cartoon would be helpful, and also fun, as the org flips through the pages of its past.


  48. khatgrrl says:


    Congrats on the NYT’s article. Your home was lovely. I don’t think I ever saw a before picture. When will you start building your new home or have you already started?

  49. Cathy says:

    Re: Comment No. 45, Kate, some living cougars are known to roam the East–but most of the rare individuals spotted in these parts were born in captivity and have either escaped, been set free, or been allowed to roam a bit. A few wild cougars have strayed here from the midwest, but they are not part of the original East Coast subspecies. No evidence of wild breeding cougars has been detected in the Eastern United States for a long time. Apparently it is ridiculously easy to purchase (illegally) a big cat cub, and too many idiots do so, only to lose or release the animals later.

  50. Kate L says:

    The religious right here in Smallville have begun a recall petition to deep-six our recently-enacted addition of LGBT to the Smallville human rights ordinance. They are calling themselves, “Awaken, Smallville!”, meaning awaken to the threat of the special interest group called LGBT demanding “special rights” for itself. No kidding. That’s what they say. Just like in Wisconsin, school teachers and snow plow operators get called a special interest group, and in Ohio, policemen and firemen get called a special interest group. What’s not a special interest group these days? Corporations, which have constitutionally-protected free speech according to our U.S. Supreme Court. But I digress. My point, and I do have one, is that we pro-LGBT folk in Smallville need a catchy name for our anti-recall pro-human rights ordinance campaign. Any ideas?

  51. ksbel6 says:

    @44: I can tell you that in the state of Missouri, it is 100 yards. Being the rural community that we are, we have numerous soldiers, and thus have had several military funerals over the past 5-7 years. The funerals are almost always held in the auditorium of the local school district since it the only place big enough. I happen to work for said school district, and am sadly only too familiar with watching the local police department set up the official boundary line for the protesters. The good news is that they haven’t actually been to a funeral for several years now (even though the town gets ready for them each time).

  52. Anonymous says:

    WBC is a scam organization. Phelps the elder has no means of supporting himself. He used to use the children to go door-to-door selling overpriced items for the “church”–they were cute back then and made good money. He got around child labor laws by being a “church.”

    These days, the sociologist/psychologist members of the family identify events that are “sacred” to most people (funerals–especially of children or service(wo)men). They protest in the most vile of words to provoke people into doing something that they can then sue other people for. This is how they make their money.

    Phelps the elder is said to have been/be abusive. I have also heard tell that he was picked up repeatedly at Nebraska truck stops for diddling with the rent boys there–but perhaps that is a myth. Several of the Phelps children have turned against the clan and have tried to publish a book but cannot because of “privacy” issues. What you can read of the book on the Internet is pretty harrowing.

    Perhaps it is time to stop making churches automatically tax-exempt and force them to apply to be non-profits like everyone else. I doubt that the Phelps clan would qualify as a non-profit.

  53. Ready2Agitate says:

    Hear Hear. And check out the lengthy expose on Scientology in the New Yorker a few weeks back. Harrowing, scary, upsetting. And they keep growing thanks to being a “church.”

  54. Kat says:

    I’ve heard that most of the adult members of the Phelps crew are lawyers, and the story mentioned that they’ve practically specialized in first amendment issues, so as to better get away with their horrible sh*t.

    I had to listen very carefully (and then re-read afterward) to the bit about “hardening their hearts” and rejecting God. It seems so backwards. Well, I suppose leave it to people this vile to even manage to get Christianity wrong…..

    Yes, R2A, the big Scientology article is harrowing. They’re so secretive that who knows if the detractors are exaggerating out of anger, but if even a little sliver of it is true, it’s awful.

  55. Andi says:

    Freyakat, Kat and Khatgrrl – (so many kittehss…)

    Being in the NY Times is very exciting, and a bit surreal (like most of my life these days.) I mention my mom twice in the article, so I told her SHE was in the NY Times, which was really fun for her.

    There is something special about seeing it in print, on paper, too. Makes it a bit more real. It didn’t really sink in until I got a copy from a newsstand, opened it, and saw myself in those hallowed pages. Whew.

    The journey of Life continues to amaze me.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, and for all the support of the DTWOF community. Onward!


  56. […] Alison Bechdel posted about an “appropriation comic” of Dykes To Watch Out For. […]

  57. Anonny Mouse says:

    >>>we pro-LGBT folk in Smallville need a catchy name for our anti-recall pro-human rights ordinance campaign

    I presume all Superboy-related ideas have been considered and discarded? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Seriously, best of luck.