comics squared

February 6th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Look! Tickets just went on sale for Kate Clinton and Lily Tomlin, performing together in New York in April. It should be a pretty amazing show.


Here’s Kate’s site for more info.

Here’s another item. I went out to get the mail yesterday, and there was my Oberlin Alumni magazine. I was idly glancing at the cover as I walked back inside, and something looked oddly familiar about it. It wasn’t just the drawing of the iconic Oberlin library womb chair, or the obstreperous Richardsonian silhouette of Peters Hall visible behind it through the window…no, it was something else.

Heatley Oberlin cover

“Oberlin Writes.” Hmm. Could it be? Indeed, it was. Cartoonist David Heatley drew the cover art for this issue, which includes this very sly allusion to an image from my memoir Fun Home.

womb chair

I don’t know whether anyone else will notice, but I’m very flattered. The issue is about all the various writers who’ve come out of the college, and it notes the unusually high ratio of cartoonists among them, including Heatley, me, R.O Blechman, and Josh Neufeld. (Also, though not mentioned in the article, David Rees, Barry Deutsch, and Jason Little.)

65 Responses to “comics squared”

  1. Bechadelic says:

    I had to enlist the help of both and wikipedia, but I finally learned two new words – ‘obstreperous’ and ‘Richardsonian’.

    I’m sure that cover visual is going to ring a bell with quite a few people; I thought it looked familiar before I scrolled further to the reference visual. But, Alison, aren’t you going to let us read the article too? Please? Pretty please?

    Wish I could see Kate Clinton perform, but I don’t live in the States, so, oh well 🙁 Wish I could see you speak at ‘Titans of the Graphic Novel’ but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Sigh! Thanks as always for the interesting post 🙂

  2. Jill S. says:

    I got my alumni magazine yesterday as well, and I thought you had drawn the cover art at first. Then I realized you hadn’t. But still, very cool!

  3. Ken says:

    I’ve been following the blog posts off and on for a couple years (grad school has taken a huge bite out of my ability to read lots of blogs), and while I’m delighted that there is an homage to you on this cover, I am wondering if it is beyond hope that Dykes to Watch Out For will every make a return?

    I am missing Mo, Lois, and especially Hariet.

    “There is everything in life but hope.”

  4. NLC says:

    Bechadelic #1:
    Your wish is my command:
    Oberline Writes (From Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Winter 2010.)

    Ken #3:
    Yes, Harriet has long been at the top of my “D2WO4 character I’d most like to have a beer with” list.

    (Alas, it will no doubt be –at least– quite a while until there are new D2WOF adventures. But in the meantime, I see there is now the DTWOF Trivia Page to give us some solace…)

  5. NLC says:

    (Ha: I can’t believe I beat HOH to supplying a link! 😉 )

  6. Kate L says:

    I’ve just got to get my university server to load the DTWOF website again. It’s like being cut off from the community! BTW, Ready2Agitate (I think) from a previous post I just read… back in the 30’s Amelia Earhart (a Kansas hero of mine) actually researched why women’s clothing was made without pockets, with short shirt-tails, ect…. that was all something of a problem in her line of work as an aviator!

  7. Bechadelic says:

    @ NLC # 4

    Thank you so much for the link 😀 You’re awesome!

  8. Tom Geller says:

    HA! I happen to be writing this from the second floor of Mudd. (Home of the womb chairs, for those unfamiliar with Oberlin trivia.)

    I just got up from a nap in the nearby sofa pit (was it there when you were here?) while a guy was taking timed photo self-portraits with his girlfriend in one of the chairs.

    Those chairs will soon become like “the world’s most-photographed barn” in Don DeLillo’s novel, “White Noise” — famous for being famous. But also comfy. 🙂

  9. Tom Geller says:

    P.S. Add to the list of Obie cartoonists: Barry Deutsch, from my year (1990). His graphic novel Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword will be published by Abrams, um, this year? I think.

  10. Jeff Hagan says:

    Hope you liked the issue, Alison. We’ll get to Rees, Little and Deutsch at some point in the future (we had to narrow it down a bit)–there seem to be almost as many Obies in cartooning/graphic storytelling as there are in puppetry. Which is to say: more than would seem reasonable.

    -Jeff Hagan, Oberlin alumni magazine editor who has to admit he never found the womb chairs that comfortable

  11. hairball_of_hope says:

    @NLC (#5)

    Yeah, I was enjoying the luxury of sleeping late while it snowed a bit, so you got to the link before I did.

    Staten Island is a bit of a schlep for the show, but it appears that the St. George Theatre is two blocks from the SI Ferry, so it’s accessible by public transportation.

    I’ve seen Tomlin and Clinton separately, but never together. Should be a good show.

  12. oh, yeah! And Barry Deutsch! Thanks fer the reminder, Tom! His stuff is wonderful!

  13. Ellen Orleans says:

    Yes, the sofa pit was there 30 years ago, though I think the colors have improved a bit since then. At the time — orange, yellow and pink. (Teeth reflexively on edge).

    Personally, I attached myself to the Art History Library across Tappen Square. I loved the long wooden tables. (Writing that,I envisioned myself there with a laptop, but of course, those didn’t crop up for another 10 years.)

  14. --MC says:

    And, of course, the thought stream in the cover includes a little image of James Joyce ..

  15. Kat says:

    I think you can read sections of Hereville online. It’s quite cool.

  16. Kate L says:

    It’s a miracle! I borrowed one of those new-fangled on-your-laptop computational devices from my department so I could work at home withhout going up to my creepy, deserted (?) campus building at night. I just now fired-up the infernal device, and it told me that something it called a “wireless network” was in range… why, this is just like something out of the twenty-first century!!! And, needless to say, DTWOF was the first place I went (virtually speaking). There’s no place like home! And A.B. was there, and hairball was there, and Ready2Agitate was there, and Ginjoint was there, Acilius – you were there; and Mentor was there. Oh, Mentor, I think I missed you most of all! 🙂

  17. hairball_of_hope says:

    Ok, you Kansas girl… now click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home.” And take off those ruby slippers before you go to bed.

  18. Kat says:

    yay for Kate L! I give you a great, big :))

  19. Kate L says:

    Thanks! :)Is it wrong to be doing my grade posting from home while wearing a flannel nightgown? Not that I haven’t thought of wearing it to campus 😉

  20. Ready2Agitate says:

    wow oberlin does a great job nurturing its young talent! very cool…

  21. Kat says:

    Kate L, why would anyone do it any other way?? Ooh, ooh, now, if you ever get a traffic ticket, you can get out of it by going to online traffic school, and doing it pjs with a beer next to you….

  22. Ginjoint says:

    I have dibs on being a flying monkey.

  23. Acilius says:

    @Kate: Yay! I think putting me there in the sequence makes me Professor Marvel. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to meet the crowned heads of Europe.

  24. Kat says:

    just their heads? not the rest of them??

  25. DeLand DeLakes says:

    I haven’t been here in a while, but I wanted to say I hope you’re feeling better, Maggie…

    and what a cool cover! I love David Heatley.

  26. today sheldon is coming to do yucky chores around my house and bring me chinese food, will be here in an hour and a half. it’s a BIG day at casa jochild. and a new episode of “the good wife” on TV tonight. better than bacon.

    i’ve known several oberlin alumni and they have all mentioned those round library chairs — is the desogner aarno or something like that?

  27. judybusy says:

    Kate L: welcome to the pleasure of working from home! My employer embraced an even more radical way of working, based on the work of Best Buy. Bascially, as long as we get our work done within deadlines, it doesn’t matter where or when we do it. The model is called Results Only Work Environment. So, today, I’ve been working at home, interspersed with snow-shoveling, a doctor’s appt., trip to the gym and library. I will end up working a bit in the evening, but I’d rather do that than head out after dark in our chilly weather to get to the gym and library!

  28. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hi Dela Dela and hi Maggie — hope you’re both feeling better and back in here to stay. St Jerome sends purrs your way!

  29. Ian says:

    @Kate L: Hmmm, I wasn’t there? I wonder where I was?

    Normally I’d plump for being Toto any day, but as a fully paid up gay I feel obliged to do a stereotypical pout at not being Dorothy …

  30. Ginjoint says:

    Not Glinda, Ian? Floating about in a bubble?

  31. Ian says:

    @Ginjoint(30): Floating about in a bubble? That does describe me very well!

  32. hairball_of_hope says:

    Dorothy invades the workplace… during a particularly bloviating section of a telecon last week, a colleague and I started singing “If I Only Had A Brain” (the phone was on mute, we double-checked first). Whereupon my colleague clicked on a link on his desktop, which played a .WAV file from Oz, Dorothy exclaiming, “But what would you do with a brain if you had one?”

    The best thing (probably the only good thing) about the trend to net meetings and telecons instead of real facetime in the workplace is that we don’t even have to pretend to be polite, discreetly checking Blackberries and feigning interest while taking notes. Now we openly mock and deride the presenters and execs, sight and sound unseen/unheard, and often the telecon and accompanying net presentation are background noise to getting real work done, sort of like a TV with really awful programming. Think Soviet-style TV.

    Results Only Work Environment sounds interesting, but given the reality of most corporate environments (including the one I’m in at the moment), by the time the flying monkeys of HR finish mangling it, it will be totally unrecognizable “process” with flowcharts, a half-dozen inscrutable online SAP apps that require two hours a day to document one’s activities, and will be “measured” with bogus and meaningless metrics and formulas that somehow mesh with performance evaluations to screw the galley slaves out of money during their annual reviews.

    (… goes back to marking the days on the jail cell wall …)

  33. Alison, Tom and Kat, thanks so much!

    As Tom mentioned, the “Hereville” graphic novel will be published by Abrams this year — look for it in your local Buns & Noodle this November. Meanwhile, for now at least, some of the story is available online at . I also do political cartoons, at

    I thought the womb chairs were comfortable, but I had trouble using them without falling asleep! I spent most of my time in Mudd in the basement, though, geeking out on the VAX computer system, which would seem hilariously low-tech now. I also used to sneak into the women’s bathroom to read the graffiti, which featured long, intellectual debates written longhand, and poetry as well. The men’s room graffiti was primitive in comparison.

    [Freed from spam-trap limbo. –Mentor]

  34. Ellen says:

    Judy @#27

    I massively updated our organization’s Telework policy last year and am working now our Flex and Compact work week policy.

    I’d love to learn more about the Results Only Work Environment. Email me at orleansel [at] bouldercolorado[dot]gov if you are willing to share. I generally telework 3 hours per week for my half-time job and love the flexibility. Instead of my windowless office, I can look out of my living room onto the mountains, with sun streaming in most days.

  35. --MC says:

    I hope Heatley doesn’t mind if I quote his email to me here, but I went ahead and asked if the gal on the cover of the alumni magazine was supposed to be Alison, or a tribute to. He confirms this, and says “She’s the quintessential Oberlin writer for me. I’m a big fan. :)”.

  36. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m teleworking today, what with the blinding snow flying sideways!

    I find I get much more done at home than at work. At work, the attitude is “Gotta be here ’til Five.” At home, the attitude is “Once I finish This Much Work, I can knock off and read comic books.” I’m usually done by two.

  37. Alex K says:

    Are we still on the WizOfOz thread? If so, can anyone tell me where to go to weigh a pie?

    Yep, that’s right — somewhere over the rainbow…

  38. Ian says:

    But, Alex K, if you can, why, oh why can’t I?

    (Someone had to say it)

  39. Anne Lawrence says:

    Read LOST GIRLS for visually dazzling Wizard of Oz exegesis. Hehehe. From Alan Moore.

    How big (diameter?) are those chairs?

  40. hairball_of_hope says:

    Ok, enough WizOz, time for real magic…

    From the “You Won’t Hear About This On FoxNews” Dept.:

    Details of money movement transactions from convicted Ponzi schemer and money launderer Scott Rothstein include this interesting tidbit revealed in Bankruptcy Court filings, as reported by the Miami Herald:

    Two senior law partners of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein received $18 million in “purported loans” from his Fort Lauderdale firm — and then almost immediately paid out most of the money to the firm, Rothstein and others, according to allegations in new bankruptcy court filings.

    [… snip …]

    Rosenfeldt, Adler and Lippman also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary bonuses in 2008.

    Then they and their wives immediately turned around and contributed much of the money to the Republican presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin, court papers show.

    The three partners’ defense lawyers maintain that Rosenfeldt, Adler and Lippman committed no wrongdoing.

    The trio — along with other firm employees — are under federal investigation for possible fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and campaign violations as part of the Rothstein racketeering case, according to sources familiar with the probe.

  41. Calico says:

    If you can, please send some love and good vibes for cartoonist Eduardo Barreto:
    I think he’s one of the best “realist” style cartoonists out there today, if not the best.

  42. Alex K says:

    @38 / Ian: And where does Jonathan Ross weigh a cetacean?

    Yes; a whaleweigh station.

    (For those in the USA, substitute Barbara Walters for Ross — same speech defect. Also substitute “railroad” for “railway”. Lose point of joke altogether.)

  43. --MC says:

    Thanks for the gloss on that joke, Alex … you saved me an entire afternoon walking around going “Whaleweigh? Whaleweigh?”

  44. Ian says:

    Did anyone see k.d. lang singing “Hallelujah” at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver?

    Simply stunning and breathtaking. I practically melted.

  45. Kate L says:

    Ian (#29) OF COURSE you were there! 🙂

    Ian (#44) kd lange always melts me! Heck, she had me back in her country – western days! You might call it a constant craving. Will always be.

    My favorite vocalist and my favorite StarTrek character share the same first name! Guess who the second person is!

  46. hairball_of_hope says:

    (… Opera alert …)

    Today’s Live At The Met opera is Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment,” with Juan Diego Florez as Tonio, reprising his role where he hit all nine high Cs a few years ago in the aria “Mes Amis.” I tuned in specifically to hear the aria. Not quite as impressive today, but still very good.

    Diana Damrau is the tomboy daughter of the regiment Marie. I prefer Natalie Dessay’s tomboy interpretation, perhaps it’s because French is Dessay’s mama loshen and there’s something in her singing that just resonates with the lyrics.

    (… goes back to wishing she could carry a tune, and in honor of the long-missing Jana CH, if you don’t know the tune, sing tenor …)

  47. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#45)

    The only Star Trek choices I’m aware of are Kira and Kathryn, so I’ll vote for Kathryn Janeway.

  48. If you missed the opening ceremonies, there’s an equally good rendition of k.d. singing “Hallelujah” on You Tube for the Max Sessions at the Sydney Opera House in 2005. The video reveals her facial expressions, how she utterly embodies this song — something the suddenly reticent camera at the opening ceremonies mostly denied us. Too dangerous, I guess, to show naked emotion from a woman dressed in a “man’s” three-piece suit.

  49. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    H_o_H, bless you for having a radio station where you can hear the Met broadcasts — I can only listen on my computer!

  50. Kate L says:

    You know your Trek lore? Oh, hairball, you ARE perfect! 🙂 When does the next cross-country bus leave for New York?

  51. Ready2Agitate says:

    nonsequitir – but Kat, if you’re reading, shoot me an email – I have something I wanna send you. (ready2agitate (AT) the G-mail com email system thingie).

  52. Anonymous says:

    @Therry and St. Jerome (#49)

    Actually, radio reception for WQXR, the home of Met Opera broadcasts, is quite dicey since the sale of the station from the NY Times to WNYC Foundation last year. As part of the deal, they changed frequencies and to a much lower-powered transmitter (600 watts vs. 6000 watts), and now it’s much harder to get it over the air.

    Depending on where I am in my apartment and how the power cord is draped over things, I may or may not have a clear signal.

    For this reason, I’m thinking about getting one of those Internet radios, which picks up the streaming media over WiFi or broadband without requiring a computer.

    Perhaps an Internet radio would work for you.

    I see quite a variety of Internet radios on the B&H and J&R websites, I’ll have to take a trip to see and hear them in person before I fork over money. Some look quite UGLY, not sure I can live with them in plain view. I’ll bet the acoustic audio qualities of some are better suited for the tin ears of folks who listen to crappily-encoded MP3s at earbleed levels, not classical music.

    Anyone around here have experience/opinions on Internet radios? I’m all ears. :).

    (… goes back to wishing for the nights spent with Nimet Habachy …)

  53. Returning to a previous post’s thread about make-up: The reason why I prefer “no make-up” aside from allergies and skin reaction issues is that the so-called adornment tends to conceal the look of the real human being. Which is in fact the point — just as clothing choices are overwhelmingly dictated by disposable income much more than by expression through fashion. Any time spent in poverty will rob you of the illusion that clothing is something beyond a class marker.

    To illustrate my conviction about the obfuscation of make-up, BAGNewsNotes has a terrific post up today (I have to save my one link allowance for later) using the product of a website that will remove cosmetics and accessories to give you the actual appearance found beneath any photograph of a public figure. The example used in this instance is Sarah Palin — who is stripped bare to reveal small, mean eyes (to me very reminiscent of Dubya’s hateful beady countenance), frightened belligerance, and vacant intelligence. Check it out here: Sarah Palin Unplugged.

  54. Ellen says:

    Sarah Palin is quite attractive, Butch-lite, in the website that Maggie listed above.

  55. Kate L says:

    (Maggie Jochild #53)The only stuff I apply to my face is lip balm!

    I was just walking my 54-pound harrier hound (not her real name, btw), when a mother and her grade school-age son walked by. The boy reached to pet the dog, and she starts barking at him! I had forgotten that Sandy only likes females, and doesn’t like males. She certainly does not want to be touched by a male! If it had been a female who wanted to pet her, things would have gone much better. I just have to wonder who she could have learned such behaviour from!

  56. I once lived with a roommate who had a simply massive dog (St. Bernard/German Shepherd mix) who was extremely docile except he became homicidal toward anyone wearing a uniform — any kind of uniform, didn’t matter. Which made walking him on the streets of San Fran problematic. We never understood where he acquired his animus. Even on a choke chain, he once chased a park ranger up a tree and had us always scanning the block for unsuspecting UPS folks.

  57. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#56)

    I imagine you couldn’t safely walk the dog in the Castro in those days…

  58. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#55)

    “The only stuff I apply to my face is lip balm!”

    Uh, lip balm is supposed to go on LIPS. Now get your mind out of the gutter.

  59. Dr. Empirical says:


    I had a 100-lb Wolf Hybrid who would fawn all over any woman she met, but was nervous and hostile around men. Very few men ever managed to make friends with her- she bit my dad!

    I raised her from 6 weeks old. No male was ever mean to her. She just didn’t trust any male but me.

  60. Kate L says:

    I should mention that Sandy barked at ME the first time she ever saw me, when I had gone over to the home of the woman who was her original owner just after Sandy had been rescued from the local animal shelter. The sequence of events leading up to Sandy barking at me? I walked in, immediately walked over and kissed her. The original owner, not the dog. Jeez, you people! 🙂 I didn’t DARE type “I kissed her original owner on the lips”!

  61. Marj says:

    @Ellen #54: phew, not just me, then!

  62. JessicaB says:

    Barry @33: Can you see how those papers in the women’s stalls in the basement of Mudd were sort of a precursor to blogging?
    Jessica (class of ’89)

  63. Erica says:

    Alison, I’d love to hear what you’re doing currently/next but if you’re just loafin’ you’ve earned the rest a zillion times over. I’ve only visited Oberlin; I didn’t actually study there. So many heavy hitters all in one place. I probably couldn’t have handled the pressure. Thank G-d I got through Rutgers.

    Happy Spring! Is the sap running?

  64. chloe says:

    Erica, did you really go to Rutgers?? You must be a Jersey gal. I understand that Ms. Bechdel spoke there about 2 years ago when she was doing a book tour for “Fun Home”. Did you attend?

  65. Erica says:

    Yes on both counts. Actually, I was part of the first class of Rutgers College to include women, in the Fall of ’72. Alison Bechdel’s presentation was a great opportunity for artists and cartoonists to learn how she does her work. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly creative in that way, but it was nice to meet her and get an inside view. And from the way she described it, it’s clear that Edison was right: Genius is 99% perspiration.