It Was Forty Years Ago Today…

June 1st, 2023

…or forty years ago this month, anyway, that I published my first Dykes To Watch Out For cartoon in the Pride issue of the NYC feminist monthly, WomaNews. This anniversary fortuitously coincides with the release of the Audible Original version of Dykes to Watch Out For–an amazing audio adaptation of the comic strip.

This project is the brainchild of the redoubtable Susie Bright, who was working at Audible, and was determined to make an audiobook happen with big stars and high production values–and so she did. The playwright Madeleine George wrote a gemlike script which covers much of the plot of the first three published collections of the strip, and is set in 1987. Jane Freaking Lynch plays The Narrator! Carrie Brownstein is an amazingly anxious Mo. Roberta Colindrez (who played my college girlfriend in Fun Home (the musical based on my memoir) on Broadway, does Lois like nobody’s business. Another Broadway star, Jenn Colella plays a pitch-perfect Harriet. Roxane Gay steps in as Jezanna, the badass bookstore owner! It’s incredible! You should listen to it!

So yesterday, I dug out that ancient issue of WomaNews from my archives and started flipping through its crumbling, yellowing pages. I found that first cartoon in situ

…but I also found a lot of other fascinating stuff which I’ll share with you here. The cover of the issue says July/August, but we worked on it in June and got it out in time for Pride at the end of the month.

Inside, there’s an article about Meg Christian giving up music to follow her guru, with a truly hilarious headline.

There’s an article by the illustrious Sarah Schulman, our unofficial ringleader, about toxic chemicals in the water supply. There’s a piece about the W.O.W. Café, the insane lesbian theater collective where Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, Holly Hughes, and The Five Lesbian Brothers all got their start. Lisa Kron, one of the Brothers, would later win Tony awards for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical for her adaptation of Fun Home. (In a further coincidence, Lisa’s partner is Madeleine George, mentioned above, who wrote the Audible Dykes to Watch Out For script.)

There’s a review by Jewelle Gomez of Toi Derricotte’s book Natural Birth, which was edited by Nancy Bereano of Crossing Press. Nancy would soon go on to found her own press, Firebrand Books, which would publish ten volumes of my cartoons over the next fifteen years.

There’s an ad for the karate school where I sweated away many an evening of my youth, and gained the focus and discipline necessary to sit down and draw comics.

Here’s a small sampling from the Calendar of Events—which is what we had before dating apps. I wonder how many couples got together at the meetings of Feminist Intellectual Late-blooming Lesbians.

There’s a long, impassioned, and unfortunately still relevant letter to the editor from a self-described “lesbian transexual” who urges lesbian organizers not to exclude people but to work in coalition. I scanned ahead to the author’s name—it’s Riki Anne Wilchins, (though we misspelled her name “Wilson”) who over a decade later would go on to found the direct action group The Transexual Menace, as well as Camp Trans.

There’s an informational article about AIDS, which was only just starting to be understood, by Dr. Joan Waitkevicz. “Policies seemingly based on fear of infection, when discussed, are often rooted in contempt for the types of people at risk.” Joan volunteered at the St. Mark’s Health Collective, where I was lucky enough to have her as my doctor. 

In fact, the issue also includes an ad for a dance to benefit the St. Marks Women’s Health Collective—a dance where I would meet the woman who would be my girlfriend for the next five years. And which was the basis for the “benefit dance for the lesbian health collective” where my DTWOF character Mo met Harriet, who would become her girlfriend. A meeting which, to come full circle, you can hear with your very own ears if you listen to the Audible Original!

DTWOF episode 13

In real life, when my future girlfriend and I went our separate ways at the lesbian health collective dance, I went outside and smoked a joint with Sarah Schulman and some other WomaNews people. I remember Sarah telling us that night that Susan Sontag was a lesbian, which was news to me. Sarah also expressed her annoyance with Sontag for refusing to come out, which led to an observation that all these “movement lesbians,” meaning us, the ones who were going to protests and lesbian dances, were merely “the tip of the iceberg.” There were many, many times our number, Sarah said, who were still in the closet.

I’m feeling very grateful for my formative years at WomaNews. There would have been no DTWOF without all those amazing dykes to watch out for.

Deluxe Edition

May 2nd, 2023

I’m so pleased to have gotten to design a cover for the graphically gorgeous Penguin Classics Deluxe series. And for not just any book, but one of my very favorites of all time, Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. (It played a part in my memoir Are You My Mother?)

The series has an iconoclastic look, very comics-inflected. So for the front cover I did a comic strip dramatizing the dinner party where Lily Briscoe recovers from Mr Tansley’s comment that women can’t paint by thinking about a compositional problem she’s having in her current painting.

The back cover is another comic strip, of Mr and Mrs Ramsay reading and knitting together, nothing much happening (on the surface) except for time passing.

I did this watercolor gradient that goes from light sky blue to deep underwater blue.

And then because it’s a Deluxe Edition there are also the jacket flaps. On the front one is Mrs. Ramsay and James from the first scene in the book. With clouds on the horizon to evoke the coming storm of the Great War.

And on the back flaps we can see Lily, in the last part of the book, recalling Mrs. Ramsay and trying to complete the painting of her that she started ten years earlier.

It was such an absorbing puzzle to figure out how to literally wrap up and give a shape to this remarkable book.


May 6th, 2021

While it’s lovely to get to talk to Terry Gross, and to have my book written about in The New Yorker, I have to say I am super excited to get a write-up on Outside magazine’s website. I’ve been reading Outside for years, since the olden times when it was a higher-brow version of Men’s Health, all bros skiing off cliffs. Now they actually have a lesbian columnist, Grace Perry, and I love what she says about The Secret to Superhuman Strength.

SSS on The New Yorker site

April 30th, 2021

The Semi-Sadistic Seven Minute Workout

The New Yorker has this excerpt from The Secret to Superhuman Strength up on Daily Shouts. I am entranced with the way it looks on my phone.

Also, there’s a hilarious prose piece by Roz Chast, with whom I will be launching my book Tuesday night at the (virtual) 92nd St. Y. She discusses the terms people use for those meals when they’re using up leftovers. In our house, it’s “pantry party.”

Virtual Book Tour!

April 26th, 2021

I’m doing a bunch of online events for my new book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, starting next week. I hope you can come to one!

May 4, 7 pm 92nd Street Y with Roz Chast
Tickets here

May 5, 7:30 pm ET Philadelphia Free Library
Tickets here

May 6, 5 pm ET West x Midwest with Cheryl Strayed
Register here

May 7, 6 pm ET City Arts & Lectures with George McCalman
Tickets here

May 10, 7 pm ET Brookline Booksmith/Wilbur Theatre with Stacy Schiff
Tickets here

May 11, 7 pm ET Chicago Humanities Festival with Nicole Eisenman
Tickets here

May 12, 7 pm ET Left Bank Books with Dani Shapiro
Details here

May 13, 8 pm ET Librairie D+Q and The Beguiling (Canada)
Watch here

May 19, 5 pm ET Scripps College with Ann Friedman
Tickets here

A short disquisition on the cover of my book

April 21st, 2021

In which I explain a bit of the concept.

It’s always a strange experience to hold in my hands the freshly printed copy of a book I’ve been laboring over for years. The realization that I can no longer make any changes is a bit confounding. The finality of it! Another nail in the coffin. What’s done is done. And of course, now what?

Well, I won’t have time to worry about that just yet given the barrage of interviews and podcasts I’m doing to publicize the book. And soon I will post here the glamorous book tour events that I will be doing virtually from my basement.

I’m sorry to hawk the book one more time, but I must do what I can to get people to pre-order. If you are so inclined, here are some places where you can do it. The Strand has a lovely special page up for it and is selling signed copies. And you can also get it from your local independent bookstore via Indiebound. And of course all the other places.

Another secret

April 21st, 2021

Here’s another of my instructional videos. It is indeed snowing here in Vermont today on April 21st, but I made this a month ago.

Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians

April 12th, 2021

Okay, first of all, I am BESIDE MYSELF to see so many of the old gang back here! I’m really touched to hear from you all again, and delighted (but not surprised) that it took about ten minutes for the Maoist Orange Cake to crop up. And hard on its heels, the Trotskyist Key Lime Pie.

I just listened to a really great episode of the Slate podcast Working, in which June Thomas had a conversation with Joan E. Biren (JEB) about the recent reissue of JEB’s groundbreaking 1979 book.

JEB’s been doing a lot of events recently, including one with me a couple weeks ago for the bookstore Women and Children First. (Virtually, of course.) But I feel bad that I didn’t ask her better questions. June does a great journalistic job of getting to the heart of things, asking JEB what the process of taking the pictures and making the book was like. Definitely worth a listen. (And if you’re a Slate Plus member, there’s an added segment that’s worth the price of a Slate Plus membership–it involves counting penises.) Anyhow Eye to Eye was a hugely formative book for me as a young dyke, so it’s nice to see it back in print and getting some attention.

Go for a ride

April 10th, 2021

The Secret to Superhuman Strength #10, another in my series of instructional videos.

Many eons ago, before facebook wrecked everything, there was a lovely, lively little community of people who gathered here on this blog. I’m going to engage in a nostalgic experiment and turn the comments back on. They will be moderated, as before, by my friend Mentor. But they will eventually get posted as long as they’re not rude, or spam, or otherwise disruptive.

My New Book

April 9th, 2021

My new book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, will launch on May 4. But you can pre-order it at any of these places. I’m sorry to be flogging it in this flagrant manner, but pre-orders are apparently very important in the book world these days.

Bunns and Noodle Barnes and Noble is offering signed copies here.

Here’s the Indiebound link. Indiebound, in case you don’t know, is a great way to order from your local independent bookstore.

If you want to buy from a women’s bookstore, here’s the link to it on Women and Children First’s site.



And here it is on This site gives some of the money back to independent bookstores!

And apparently you can also get it from Apple. In what I presume is a digital version. Hmmm. I haven’t seen this yet, so don’t know how legible it will be.

Soon I’ll announce my big Virtual Tour. I’m doing a bunch of events with some lovely interlocutors–all via Zoom from my basement, alas. But still.