DTWOF Archive Episode #1

May 2nd, 2007 | Uncategorized

Okay, today my new plan goes into effect. Recently I explained that out of necessity I’m cutting back to one new strip a month for a while. And in between I’ll post re-runs. I’m beginning at the beginning, twenty years ago.

160 Responses to “DTWOF Archive Episode #1”

  1. Al, et al. says:

    It’s really amazing to see how the quality of the drawing has evolved over the years!
    I remember these early strips so well. It’s making me very nostalgic. I bought the first couple of DTWOF books at Giovanni’s Room in Philly back in 1991, when I first came out as bi. I didn’t have a queer community of my own, so immersed myself in Mo’s fictional one. And I’m still immersed in it 16 years later. Ok, now I’m feeling old. Thanks a lot, Alison!

  2. Ellen Orleans says:

    It’s cool to see how much the artwork has evolved, yet the concerns and struggles are timeless. Is Mo a romantic? How does that play out with Sidney? How many ways are there of being a romantic and how does that/has that changed over time?

    Wow, that all sounds like the worksheets I used to write up when I taught Lit. classes. Substitute Jane Eyre and you’re there.

  3. louise says:

    I think it’s cute how every other word is in bold!!!

  4. another helene says:

    Thanks, AB! A wonderful trip down nostalgia alley! I came out a year or two after the strip started. There were so many parallels between my circumstances and those in the strip. There still are, but the resonance is with different characters today…

    Thank you for the opportunity to reflect not only on the character development in your creation, but of my own character as well!

  5. reed_maker says:


    I used to so relate to Mo’s girl troubles and hopelessly high standards, but now I too am in a committed relationship (might as well be married). It’s funny to sit here and feel nostalgic for the old days of insecurity, loneliness and torment.

    Great blast from the past. But where have all the years gone?!

  6. Willendorf says:

    I came out in 1985 and read my first DTWOF in Womanews. It was the “Look out! It’s LUPPIES!” one — pre-Mo.

    Now I feel old. But in a good way.

  7. Deb says:

    Ahhhhhhh, I love this one! It still amazes me how my life parallels Mo, even to this day! ARGH!

  8. Sophie says:

    Ah, the classics.
    When my hetero best friend’s daughter came out as a lesbian around age 16, I asked her to baby-sit my kid. Before I left, I pointed her to all the lesbo books I had in my bookshelf: the first four DTWOF books, Hothead Paisan, etc. I met her recently. She’s in her late twenties now. She remembered.
    I still have the books.

  9. Yossi says:

    This is part of the very, first queer book I ever bought when I came out in 1989. Don’t you just love nostalgia?

  10. Aunt Soozie says:

    Look at Lois’ cute little puppy belly.

  11. Jana C.H. says:

    True, the art has evolved, but AB has always been the mistress of facial expression. Look at Lois’s face when she says, “What about me?” Flawless!

    And I’ve always liked the way AB in her early strips could turn a profile into a three-quarter view by adding a floating eye and eyebrow. Talk about parsimonious!

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Arthur Pinero: Where there is tea there is hope.

  12. ksbel6 says:

    Me thinks this is not quite the actual beginning…remember that very first book, where Mo wasn’t around?

  13. HWHD says:

    As a gal who is involved in a lot of sports, I always loved the strips with grrrls doing karate and playing rugby. Apart from Stuart’s spin classes and the bike-commute thing, there is very little sporting anymore. Where have the karate grrls gone?…

  14. Jaibe says:

    Lois is so hot in the “what about me” frame. In *my* DTWOF:the musical I posted to Planet Out years ago, the entire premise was Lo & Mo finally had sex, and the whole movie Mo is worried about whether to tell Sydney. Finally she does at the end and Sydney says “whatever, it obviously wasn’t serious”, so then the closing credits are a monologue of Mo worrying about what it means that Sydney didn’t mind.

    All a bit outdated now. but still, I miss Lois! (& June 🙂

    PS (I had KD Lang down to play Mo & Madonna playing Lois, and Jet Li in drag playing June)

  15. tallie says:

    is it wrong to be sexually attracted to comic strip characters?

    this is always the first thought whenever i read this strip.

  16. elteegee says:

    Ha! Where were you when this strip first came out?

    I was just about to graduate from college, was in love with my first real gf, it was spring and life was grand. DTWOF and my life as a lesbian started right around the same time – coincidence? Well – yeah, but it’s been nice to have it here all this time all the same…

  17. Em says:

    These early strips remind me of what Charles Schultz said about his Peanuts characters: “Charlie Brown is who I am, Snoopy is who I’d like to be.” I swear I’ve thought the same thing many times over about Mo and Lois- oh how I’d love to have Lois’ charisma and luck with ‘unromance’ but in reality that’s me sitting at the table complaining of unintended celibacy and convinced that everyone in the world is in a happy relationship except me.

  18. M. says:

    As someone obsessed with letters, I also like seeing how the handwriting/”font” has evolved. (Hey, does anyone know what software AB uses now–in Fun Home and in at least some if not all new DTWOF strips–to make her lovely handwriting into a font?)

  19. Samia says:

    Alison, it’s so amusing to read these strips again! Looking at Mo and Lois here reminds me a little of the way we looked when we were teenagers- a little gauche and awkward. Lois’s features particularly, seem to have evolved through the years (only to make our hearts beat faster).

    I actually came to DTWOF only very recently- I attended your reading of Fun Home in Boston last year, and so was moved by your story and intrigued by your personality that decided to buy a few DTWOF books as well. I’ve bought all the books in the series since and have become addicted to the strip and to this blog.

    My own coming to terms with my queerness has been a bewildering and often frightening process. The Dykes To Watch Out For stories have become my source of comfort, validation and community and also a celebration of myself. This world that you have imagined and created has helped me locate some ground beneath my feet and has sustained me in ways that I never could have fathomed.

    While we revisit your strips from twenty-years ago, I want to say that these episodes are extremely meaningful and relevant even today. Thanks. Thanks for helping me experience spaces where I can recognize parts of myself in so many manners and circumstances. I await your monthly issue and look forward to your publishing a new DTWOF volume.

  20. Cate says:

    Alison, I love these archive strips, and fully support your move to reduce your output on dtwof. Am just glad you’re not leaving the project altogether.

    I came out in late 1986. This is serious nostalgia for me ;-). I think I have hinged a lot of my identity onto the language in dtwof — including sparrow’s “bi-dyke” definition . The last few years for me have included ending a 14 year relationship with a woman and watching her become even more queer-identified as I’ve embarked on a puzzling but mostly satisfying relationship with a straight man. In true dykely fashion my ex and I are making true family of each other.

    Thanks again for creating such an enduring cultural frame, Alison.

  21. The Deb in Minnesota says:

    AB, has it been 20 years already? I’m flashing back while experiencing hot flashes. Lois was hot! ::fans self::

    I love the look on the cat’s face in the last panel.

  22. --MC says:

    M — in the Journal interview Alison says that her font was created with Fontographer.

  23. Ivy says:

    Hmmm…1987. I was three. I’m glad you’re posting these from back in the day; my college self can’t afford to buy the books. But I’m about to be a senior, so that will change, allegedly.

  24. Olivier says:

    One thing that seems to have stayed the same all those years is the cat, though: I don’t notice any difference. And it has great facial expressions, too.

  25. LondonBoy says:

    I remember when I first read this: I was living in a bedsit in North London, and I used to identify so much with Mo. It’s interesting how some aspects of the characters have changed over the years, and some have remained the same. I wonder if it’s the same for me…

    I have to say I could barely recognise Lois, though…

  26. anonymous says:

    Wow, in the midst of all this blog angst, what a wonderful example of what this forum can be! I love everyone’s stories, rememberences, discussion of their relationship to the strip, and their own queer identity, etc… Alison, the combination of old and new strips here is off to a great start – I’m really looking forward both to reading the strips and everyone’s continued reactions to them.

  27. Lester says:

    this is exciting!!!! i forgot how ‘effing HOT Lois used to be. drawn all rough and shit… that’s right she was always with the ladies cooking stuff.. wasn’t she a chef?

  28. silvio soprani says:

    LondonBoy, phone home!
    Please e-mail me at silvio.soprani@yahoo.com

    And I agree with you about not recognizing Lois. She has really become more elegant as the years have gone by. We should all fare so well!

  29. Ian says:

    I had just started sleeping with men, but didn’t come out to myself ’til three years after this strip. It feels really weird to think now that I’d slept with a hundred men until I “admitted” (I hate that word) to myself that I was gay.

    It took me another 9 or 10 years to find DTWOF. The first collection I bought was “Unnatural” and they were the first LGBT fictional characters I ever identified with. I think I bought it just after a row in the local LGBT centre over whether to allow a TS to use the centre during the women only days. It made the national (UK) news if I remember rightly.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same …

  30. calamityJ says:

    flashback: GOD I USED TO HAVE SUCH A CRUSH ON LOIS!!! Still kind of do.

    I was still in high school in 87, trapped in Allentown, PA, suspecting my wicked fate but determined not to deal til I “got the hell autta taun” (& away from the PA Dutch accent!) By 91, I was on my own in Chicago, w/a cadre of gay male friends (who made my own coming out the previous year feel so passe & redundant but who could point me to new things, including DTWOF.)

    So give my regards to Lois, who I hope to see again soon (but take your own sweet time. AB…)

  31. Annie in Hawaii says:

    Ah, nostalgia! Takes me back to the women’s bookstore in Oakland. Them were the days! I did my community service time working off a trespassing ticket at the bookstore with pal, Hilary (actually we were sunbathing nude, but the judge and everybody in the courtroom seemed to know exactly what we were doing so it was big larf!) I spent most of the time reading DTWOF than shelving books—of course.

    Oh, to be young and dumb again!

  32. Al, et al. says:

    Annie– I love the Bay Area! Where else could you work off a ticket at a women’s bookstore?

  33. Aunt Soozie says:

    I had been out for seven years in 1987.
    I can’t remember when I first saw DTWOF but I think it was probably in book form at Giovanni’s Room? Or maybe I borrowed it from the bookshelf of some other lesbian?

    I do remember when I was trying to get pregnant I was reading the DTWOF collection that ends with Raffi being born. I actually cried at his birth. I couldn’t believe I was crying over a “cartoon”…

  34. zach bender says:

    for me, the sexiest frame is the fifth, “wasn’t intellectual enough,” with just Mo’s hips and torso, up to her elbows in dishwater. I didn’t see DTWOF until about 2000, in the local GLBT fortnightly, which has since discontinued it . . . so the rougher artwork and lettering is a revelation. takes me back to the sixties “underground” comics . . .

  35. CC says:

    My first girlfriend and I stumbled on this in a long-defunct women’s bookstore, in the first collection. We were both about eighteen at the time.

  36. Ovidia says:

    I remember this!!!!!!!

    Used to identify totally with Mo (till Thea showed up…) But it’s scary too–*shock*–i see now the drawings, the characters have[bold] changed over the years and maybe *greater shock* –I’ve changed too–
    Changes prob weren’t noticed because they were so gradual, natural, part of my life and possibly/probably responsible for grounding a lot of it–there was no/little ‘community’ here while I was growing up. Thank you, Alison for providing that.

  37. Jana C.H. says:

    I was just out of grad school when the first DTWOF book was given to me by a fellow member of Puddletown Squares, Seattle’s original gay square dance club. It was Dennis of Dean-and-Dennis, my first two pals in Puddletown. Dennis, alas, is long since dead of AIDS, and I lost track of Dean after my mysterious hip pain forced me to stop square dancing.

    I’ve been buying the books religiously ever since, though it was only after DTWOF began appearing on the web that I have been able to follow the story strip by strip. Before that I read it in FUNNY TIMES, which is monthly, so I got only every other episode. A strange experience.

    Now I have to go read the first couple of books. The pre-Mo&Lo strips are delightful indeed.

    Jana C.H.
    P.S. What blog angst?

  38. Kai in Australia says:

    I’ve always loved Lois and wish we could see more of what she’s up to nowadays. The cutest drawing of Lois ever is one in the episode where Raffi is born, Mo is filming the whole thing and focuses on one point on Lois who looks straight into the camera and asks coyly- ‘Do you want me to take my clothes off?” Best facial expression ever!!
    Starting from the beginning is an excellent idea – even though I’ve got all the books, it’s a very welcome trip down DTWOF Lane.
    Thank you Alison- for all of it.

  39. B says:

    Thanks for posting from back at the beginning. I was six when this first came out — and completely in love with a first-grader named Becky — but early DTWOF always makes me nostalgic for my early Lambda Alliance and Women’s Center days. Sigh. Am I old enough to say, ‘those were the days’?

  40. Feminista says:

    Kai–I thought it was Ginger’s partner from Calif.,the independent filmmaker, who camcorded Raffi’s birth. Mo, as I recall, was freaking out,asking if she should boil some water;Toni remained calm. Then Mo picked up Clarice from the courthouse,rushing her to the birthing place. The ob/gyn was on a long bike ride,but fortunately Toni reached her by cell. Cars with most of the gang showed up at the birth center at the same time,and the intreprid M.D. pedalled up soon afterwards. Others were dispatched to get casual clothes for Clarice and Chinese take-out; it was a long night.

    I believe I first read DTWOF in Just Out,maybe in the early 90s, and my husband and I got the books later. Historian that I am,of course I read them sequentially.

  41. mulierebus says:

    Wow, really takes you back, doesn’t it? I reread these all the time. We keep the whole series in the bathroom to read on the pot or in the tub.

    I came out 1n high school in 1983. In late ’85 I was stuffing envelopes at weekly mail out night of Gay Community News. Saw some of the earliest strips in there and got every book as soon as it came out. Plus dozens of extra copies for friends. Seems like the first thing practically every dyke did back then when she came out was cut off all her hair. Ah, pre-internet days of really needing printed media, of stapled mail outs and dot matrix label stickers.

  42. Kai in Australia says:

    Feminista- Yes, you’re right – thanks for the gentle correction – obviously I was so entranced by Lois, forgot any other details! I wonder if that intrepid, adventurous doctor is still around?
    And (speaking of absent characters) I’d love to know what Harriet, Jezanna and Thea (amongst others) are up to these days
    I used to read the strips in Off Our Backs (at least, I think it was Off Our Backs…)

  43. Danyell says:

    Looking back is great! I’ve seen the oldest strips! Thanks for the triP!

  44. ready2agitate says:

    Oh Lawdy, GCN, Off our Backs, Sojourner, this blog is such a memory-laner! (How many women secretly subscribed to Soj. for DTWOF?)

    I can’t remember when/where I first saw DTWOF, but I remember first hearing the *NAME* of the strip — a revelation in itself — the whole “phenomenon” was making a buzz (like “Two in Twenty”).

    OK – ’87, last year of college, coming out at the March on Washington (realizing all the while I was probably really bi- and not really a dyke, which in fact, is true). Today one ex-girlfriend lives full-time as a man, the other is married to a man with children, and I looks like I’m headed in that same direction (Sparrow, anyone?). In fact, my life looks pretty darn straight these days. DTWOF is one way I keep my dyke self connected.

    Anyone notice the ear cuff in Lois’s ear btw? I wore an ear cuff for years and years! (and I still eat with chopsticks, although no longer in a group house sharing dishwashing duty….)


    AB – hooray for taking care of your needs (conflicted as they may be), your decision sounds completely sane and healthy and right and perfect. We support you! After 20 years or so, and so many delicious strips, episodes, books, calendars, and now, this awesome blog, we have so much to thank you for. Really, we are just so lucky to have your artwork, wit, and wisdom in our crazy lives. You have touched us all, indelibly :). And yes, we will wait, we will wait.

  45. louise says:

    I was fourteen when a Tower Records opened up in my suburb. I would beg my mom to drop me off there each week with the excuse that I wanted a Sassy magazine or Cranberries cassette. My primary objective was to see if a new issue of Outlines was stacked in the lobby so I could grab one and stuff it under my coat. I remember reading my first strips and thinking, cooool. the Lesbian Avengers? Lois checking out Mo’s new girl at a house party… what is saag paneer and aloo paratha?…Mo babysitting and saying that it was “eerily reminiscent of tenth grade…will I ever get a life?” and making me feel better about mine, but only for so long because I wanted more.

  46. Donut Rooter says:

    As someone who’s “only” been reading the strip 8 or 9 years (discovered it on planet out shortly after I came out as bi), it’s great to see the early strips. (I’m too broke to start buying all the books.) This is a wonderful treat, and I look forward to more strips! 🙂

  47. Rraine says:

    Holy cow. I remember picking up the first and second books at one time in Little Sisters in Vancouver, and going on a long picnic with my gf of the moment. Bad idea. All I wanted was to read the books – I got in a lot of trouble that day. I still have those books, and all the others, but that gf is gone. This was in 1993, I think – I was what, 25 or so, and dating a femme Lois…it was a revelation that there were amazing cartoons beyond Doonesbury. Thanks for the memories, Alison. Looking forward to reliving some fine times over the next while.

  48. DaneGreat says:

    I stole my college roomate’s copies of the early DTWOF books – and *she* had stolen them from her mom! I’d been out for about five years before I started reading, but DTWOF was one of the first queer communities I ever desperately wanted to be a part of.

    Also, I agree with whoever loves the shot of Mo doing the dishes. It reminds me of a panel in a later strip where Ginger is bummed out in a restaurant, thinking about all the things she loves about dykes. One of them is “the way their jeans fit…”


  49. chris says:

    in my opinion it is not cute to see all the strips once again.
    i have time to read the old books during the months. well i see it is necessary for you to care for your book. but the origins of your drawings are the fantastic dtwof and so i assume it is not that difficult for you to draw just one strip every month

  50. Alex K says:

    Ah, Chris, assumptions are tough.

    AB does a LOT of research, she’s told us, before she generates a strip episode.

    And then, even after roughing out how she wants things to go, the drawing is complex — did you know that she stands up and poses (for all the characters, in all the frames) and then works from the photographed images?

    Jeez Louise! Between research and and and, that strikes me as difficult.

    “Just one strip…”. Well. It’s kind of like when my sister wanted “just one horse”, and hadn’t appreciated how much trouble went into that just one horse. Or, as my dad said, “just one Boeing 707”.

    I’m glad we’ll have AB once a month.

  51. aimes says:

    I have no real clue what it takes to produce a comic strip. Based upon AB’s statements, it seems to be a very meticulous and tedious process.

    I think that anyone who sees it as a “not that difficult” endeavor, could draw their own.

    what was that website again???

  52. b-a-r says:

    Lordy me, I was BORN in 1987. I only found dtwof about eighteen months ago and have been ploughing my way through them ever since.

    This strip only gives me more fodder for my ‘my friend not only acts like Mo, she dresses and moves and is built like her too’.

    It’s lovely though. And really interesting to see how your drawing style has evolved over the years.

    Thankyou! ‘Nother 20 years?

  53. silvio soprani says:

    ready-2-agitate (and Kai),
    Yes, I bet a lot of women bought off our backs (and probably Sojourner) every month just for the DTWOF. I remember an angry letter to oob from a woman cancelling her subscription because “there are too many articles about lesbians; straight women’s needs are being ignored.” Then she concluded her letter by saying “…but I am REALLY going to miss reading DTWOF.”

  54. hetero genus says:

    i am a middle aged, straight (i would know at my age) long time reader. Drawing styles tend to change just like our bodies and brains do, but what remains the same, is the ey for detail, the movement, the life and dynamics of all the the people you (Alison) create wtih little lines on paper. flawless then and now in their capacity to illustrate the human condition. I didn’t recognise Lois at all with the different haircut and slightly different facial structure ( her pre-TinTin look ). That too is real too life. These days, i recognise the kids of my contemporaries when i haven’t seen them for a while, but i sometimes don’t recognise their parents who were my friends, even if i’d been intimate with them. But mo, i’d know her anywhere. She doesn’t look that different, stil prefers horizontally striped shirts and all, and still is the image of her creator.

  55. hetero genus says:

    Also, nice seeing the cat all healthy and young.

  56. babydyke says:

    I discovered DTWOF a few months ago, into my first term at college. It’s fictional community and the virtual community here has been a very comforting presence since my university is the old cold stone variety with, for whatever reason, virtually no lesbians. I read Fun Home over the summer when I was still closeted and my decision to come out was very much prompted by the glorious, sensitive portrayal of mutual self-revelation between AB and her dad.

    So even while it’s lonely and frustrating, I have this in the background to remind me of this thing I have with me that, at some point, is going to surface and is going to mean something.

    thank you for the leg up.

  57. cz says:

    First girlfriend, 1988 gave me my copies- she had bought them at Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia. Turning 40 next month. Hard to believe that’s nearly 20 years ago.

    In regards to ‘not that difficult’- Nothing makes me laugh/cry more than a user who says, ‘Well I’m not a software programmer, but it seems to me that it would be very simple to …[insert some modification to software that would require rewriting core functionality]

    Reading a comic takes minutes- creating it takes time

  58. another helene says:

    I got Soj for DTWOF. Primarily.

    I also kept scratchin’ my head, wondering how AB had snuck unnoticed into my kitchen in Somerville and so accurately captured the zeitgeist therein.

  59. Bob says:

    It wasn’t just women who subscribed to Sojourner for DTWOF – I did, too. And even though I own all the books, I’m so glad to have the archived strips being posted here. I imagine it’s the closest I’ll ever come to seeing Mo get back together with Harriet, who I miss very much.

  60. Jen says:

    I love the archive strips. I’m under the (possibly mistaken) impression that the books do not contain all the strips. Can we get all the originals in order??

  61. --MC says:

    Kai — the doctor who delivered Raffi also delivered Harriet’s baby (she was in a neck brace at the time as I recall).
    Aimes — drawing and writing is difficult. If I had a whole graphic novel to gun out in three years, I’d shut everything else down and just work on that. Kudos to Alison for keeping the main franchise going, even through the reprints.

  62. ready2agitate says:

    Point noted, and my apologies, Bob. (You know, I had actually written “(and men)” but then I deleted it….) I’m with you on Harriet, though. And big thanks to Feminista for recapturing the birth of Raffi. It all came back to me instantly (esp. that bicycle-riding midwife – hooray!) (or was she an ob/gyn?).

    I sure hope all the newer readers can still locate episodes of Hothead Paisan. Boy did that help me let off the steam of my outrage in my 20s/30s….

  63. isavelez says:

    Ah, 1987!!! That was the year I discovered DTWOF. And it became an important part of my entry into lesbian life. In fact, in the summer of 1988 I sported a Lois (and it worked wonders, especially at Pride in NYC, when half the WoC contingent kept laughing at my ‘do and rubbing my head!). The rich variety of voices and characters was just the fuel I needed to make sense of the new life I had begun:

    Had just arrived at Yale, from Puerto Rico (talk about culture clash), having been kicked out of home for being a dyke… (But there was Toni, and Clarice, and Sparrow to carry me through)

    I was 18, scared, determined, hungry for change and newness, and oftentimes very confused.

    What I didn’t know was how lucky I was:

    •The library actually subscribed to GCN
    •Golden Threads Booksellers (owned by another Allison), was a 20 minute walk from campus
    •Queer studies were finally arriving, (I helped organize the 1st LesGayStudies conf. @ Yale)
    •The legacy of activism of lesbians and feminists and women of color at Yale and in New Haven had finally paid off with a well-established Women’s Studies Progran (I majored in, needless to say).
    •The March on Washington served as my personal coming out… (My dad subscribed to the Yale Daily News, and they ran a picture of the Yale Queers of Color contingent on the cover, with me front and center)…
    •And in 1988 AB herself gave a talk at Yale (in a room at the Law School, no less). Indelible indeed, “la Bechdel”, I still remember her presentation, the slides, and the discussion of how she drew the scene at the end of More DTWOF when Mo and Harriet finally get together — a scene that is ONLY available in the book, this was never part of the serialized strip. (I remember asking AB if it would ever be, she said no, only in the book.)

    I am enjoying the retrospective. DTWOF has been an integral part of my life, a chronicle of an aspect of my lesbian life, and a wonderful historical anchor on which to tie a review of the past 20 years of my personal and profesional life.

    I just realized that my relationship with AB and DTWOF is the longest lesbian relationship I’ve had!!! (And I’m not given to “casual” relationships. My marriage lasted 14 years, and yes, she got to keep the DTWOF collection, drats.)

    This website, the blog, and the inspired and inspiring community in it are a precious gift.

    Consider this my thank-you note.

    Isabel — (a long-time lurker, on a trip down memory-lane)

  64. Sophie says:

    Hey M., I don’t know that AB actually used this software, but I’ve tried it and it’s great for creating a handwritten font:

  65. ksbel6 says:

    In the fall of 1987 I was a sophomore in hs and meeting my first love on the volleyball court. We were together for just over 4 years before coming out sent her family into action and she picked them over me. That was a crushing time…but time heals all wounds!

    I started reading DTWOF about 4 years ago in the Funny Times. I only have the first 6 books though…I need to catch up!

  66. rokinrev says:

    I guess we are getting old—–der…..(sigh)

    Great to look back though

    AB, take care of yourself…it’s been one wild year

  67. rokinrev says:

    And FYI, 1987 wasa the year I started at UTS Minnapolis, was cong out as bi and working with the author of Embodiment, Dr Nelson….AND discovering Amazon Fem. Bookstore and DTWOF was an interagal part of that

  68. geogeek says:

    Last time I went to the bookstore Iwas told that the earlier D2WO4 books were out of print. Anyone know if this is still true? I’m missing the 1st three collections and miss them. Though I guess that means I’ll enjoy the “rebroadcasts” on this site all the more.

  69. M. says:

    Thanks MC and Sophie for font software tips!

  70. ksbel6 says:

    Go to the DTWOF Books link on the right side of the home page. Firebrand books is still printing the old ones.

  71. Sudro says:

    I started reading in about ’90 or ’91 when I was at UMass, hanging around the LBGA office. I don’t remember if I read the strip in OOB or Bay Windows, but I grabbed it whenever I could. Then I found the first book in a used bookstore in Northampton (slightly bittersweet: I was glad to find it, but the inside cover was inscribed from one lover to another). I’ve been reading ever since. Even after I drifted away from the Western MA gay community, I kept up with Mo and the gang.

    I don’t care how many episodes we get each month. Fun Home was an amazing read and I’m looking forward to the next book. Anything that facilitates the process of getting it out is fine by me!

  72. Thank you everyone, for being so understanding about the once a month thing. I love Isabel’s relationship metaphor–DTWOF is my longest-term relationship too.

  73. couldbesunshine says:

    It’s really interesting reading all the comments and seeing the variety of ages among readers.

    For the record, I was born in 1987.

  74. The Deb in Minnesota says:

    I just pulled out my “Spawn of Dykes to Watch Out for” to relive Raffi’s birth. The memories. And there’s a great B&W photo of AB holding a cat on the back cover. Oh, that kitty looks like she could be a sister to one of my former cats, Alice B. Toklas Walker.

  75. Doctor E says:

    In ’87 I was just starting grad school and reading DTWOF in the Valley Advocate, which I picked up whenever I was in Northampton, Mass. Two of my favorite music clubs, The Iron Horse and Pearl Street, were in Northampton and I often read the strip in the dim light while waiting for the band to come on.

  76. Butch Fatale says:

    I was 5 . . . but I remember my senior year of high school when my mom took me to visit the college I would attend, we went to the local feminist bookstore (RIP c. 2001) and she bought me a DTWOF. When she looked at the price she made a joke about needing to recruit more dykes to drive down costs.

    It was funny at the time, but now it’s pretty sad. I actually bought my Lois mug during their going out of business sale the next year, but lost it when moving back home that Spring. I had an impulse that day to buy all the options — there was a Clarice and Toni one too. I wish now that I’d listened to it (and kept better track of the one I had!).

  77. Jaibe says:

    I moved in with two women I only found out later were bisexual, and I discovered DTWOF on their bookshelfs (in a common room), and was already furitively reading them, and then the one who wanted me (who was of course not the one I wanted) one day threw a bunch of them at me when I was sitting at the dining room table eating.

    My partner found them while working as a librarian in UW Madison periodicals. He went through the back issues of whatever periodical and was laughing so hard another librarian came over and told him to be quiet! He was sure one of the ones he read involved Toni & Clarice & a turkey baster, but I’ve never figured out which one that was…

    Weird bonding point for a heterosexual relationship. Although I found out that on the US east coast it’s a bit of a pickup line / sensitive male thing to be well informed about AB’s oeuvre.

  78. Feminista says:

    Jaibe–The only straight men on the west coast I know who have read DTWOF were my late husband mentioned above and my brother-in-law; he discovered the strip in Funny Times maybe 3 years ago.

    To my knowledge,my single sensitive male cousin in Boston isn’t aware of DTWOF and while LGBT friendly,I doubt he’d be interested.

  79. Spark says:

    Around ’90, I heard Alison give a talk on her development as an artist. How she began w/ men’s bodies, long before she worked out a visual representation for women’s bodies. That doing so was difficult, and that it was a fairly isolated journey. At least that’s my memory. And something about Mickey Mouse, but I no longer remember what that was about.

    ’89 or so at MIT. DTWOF felt like parallel lives/communities. I’m really grateful for the company, reflections & insight through the years. I’m all for memory lane. Even better as an investment in a new book!

  80. chris says:

    i just agree with you, i like to read one strip in a month,
    but i don´t want the old once again even they are as fantastic as the new ones.
    i just want to know how clarie and toni, sindney and mo, ginger and samia and all the other stories go on.

    and even some girls were born in 1987 i think you don´t want the whole history to repeat you can buy the books and read them, this is also good for AB when you buy old books and not only read it in the blog.

    and of course we european girls have also some comic artist,
    go and check out http://www.damenbart.org
    and http://www.lewistrondheim.fr

  81. LEM says:

    Great thread, gang. All the brief histories are wonderful. I came out eleven years before this strip was written, to heavy lesbian-feminist writings like SCUM Manifesto, Charlotte Bunch, Radicalesbians, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich. I wonder if my twenties would have been lighter, if DTWOF had been my guide instead.

  82. Al, et al. says:

    Is it just me, or is all this reminiscing eerily similar to the extended sequence (in a bonus at the end of one of the books) in which Ginger is doing research for the Womyn’s Herstory Archives? The discussion here of when we all first “met” Mo and the gang just reminds me so much of all their stories of when they first met each other. Or is this just further proof of my desparate need to get a three-dimensional life?

  83. Treacle says:

    1987, off to university, finding DTWOF in the local ‘independent’ bookshop, Mushroom Books, (RIP), Gay Pride, flat top hairdo, Doc Marten boots, no huge spare tyre and first g/f who I loved completely and brike my heasrt totally; sigh, dem were the days.
    Thanks Alison! xx

  84. Treacle says:

    Broke my heart even, curse lunchtime drinking!

  85. Ellen Orleans says:

    Regarding Mickey Mouse

    Funny, I just made a reference to that a few days ago. AB said how Minnie Mouse was simply Mickey in drag. How the male is the baseline for female in Disney-world. Just add eyelashes and a bow. So true.

  86. --MC says:

    Chris — Trondheim is wonderful! We’re getting his work here in the States in small amounts. And you know what, the next issue of the Comics Journal coincidentally has an interview with him. (They don’t pay me for advertising, but maybe they should.)

  87. markmaker says:

    The strip here is great- the old stuff is like flipping through an old photo album, or watching an old MASH episode. Lots of memories. While I could certainly pull the books of the shelf, that would (a) require more time than I have / allow myself right now and (b) lack the serendipity of the whole thing. AB picks, I get surprised, and it’s like eating a single chocolate instead of the whole box- excellent moment and then I can still function for the rest of the day!

    What I remember the most vividly about my life when I met DTWOF was hiding in the back of the library at Sweet Briar (a southern women’s college, somewhat ‘hostile’) in the early 90s and reading flipping through all the dusty back issues of Off Our Backs to read the comics in the back. If the magazine area was too busy on a given day, I’d forgo my OOB sessions and slip down into the stacks in the basement to peruse the HQ shelf.

    I love that this strip has existed this long, I love that it exists not just as a beautiful fictional plot line or character set but also as a cultural memoir. How much of gay history has been captured here that would otherwise have slowly evaporated as we all age and move on?

    Having said all that, are there any youth among us who can pick up the torch? My partner and I are 10 years apart, and I know her perceptions of a lot of topics are different from mine (part of what I love about the age gap). I 100% want DTWOF to continue, but I feel like there is new history being written in the new generation and I’m hoping that AB can be the first of several queer cultural chronicler cartoonists, and not just The Only. I’d be thrilled to have multiple story lines / perspectives / generations to check in on 5 years from now.

    Treacle: Lammas Books in DC (RIP), Doc Marten boots, Manic Panic hair dye, black biker jacket (blended riiiiight in at college), the 93 March on Washington, and another women’s college 20 minutes down the road (woohoo!)

  88. louise says:

    ok FINE… I’m going to try… but if my attempt at a painting-a-day is any indication, the strip will come out semiannually. And also it will be like, do you remember that episode of the Simpsons when Homer wasn’t around for whatever reason and so Marge missed him so much that she built an effigy of him out of like, balloons and a kitchen pail that she drew a face onto? and she introduced it to the kids as their new father, and then it started to fall apart and one of the balloons popped and Bart and Lisa started screaming? My strip would be like that. And also, Chris, have you ever tried to draw a hand???? Or lay out panel margins? Chris, if you drew a strip, how many centimeters wide would your panel margins be?? Yeah, I didn’t think so. ;P You sound like my girlfriend. She’s like, “If I were you, I would just set aside an hour and draw a comic strip each day! And if you weren’t always going on that blog you’d have time to do like three.” She has this horrible habit of being right. so… I must pull a Shadocat. catch you all on the flip side.

  89. louise says:

    I will miss you!

  90. Tim T. says:

    for Chris:
    “Damenbart” looks pretty cool, aber Ich kann nicht Deutsch lesen! Is it in English anywhere?
    Best wishes to all.
    Tim T.

  91. mlk says:

    I am SO IMPRESSED that even 20 years ago AB could draw someone eating with chopsticks! I can’t eat with the dern things, much less draw someone else using them . . .

    I learned about the strip from my first gf, in 2002, but didn’t start reading it until we’d broken up. don’t ask me why, just one of those things.

    I bought a copy of the 1st collection for my goddaughter (who started a gay/straight alliance at her highschool) when she graduated in 2004. it came out the year she was born. talk about a perfect gift!

  92. mlk says:

    p.s.– love the frame w/Lois’ putting on her jacket!

  93. mulierebus says:

    Isabel-I went to the ’87 March on Washington with Bagly (Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth) and got on the cover of Bay Windows (or was it GCN?) in the group photo.

    The thing that I remember was my evil ex was kind of stalking me at the time and there she is at the other end of the banner, even though she hadn’t a political bone in her body and only came down to make sure I didn’t sleep with anyone else if I wasn’t sleeping with her. Ah, memories.

  94. mulierebus says:

    So what about fan fiction? Does anyone just take your characters AB, and do their own fantasy cartoons or stories with them, so they can make the endings come out the way they want to?

    This happens to some small extent with the L Word for example
    (http://www.fanfiction.net/l/2055/3/0/1/1/0/0/0/0/0/1/), or if you have any possible crazy sex angle (or non-sex angle really) on any of the characters in the Harry Potter series, hoo boy. There is a lot of that stuff out there. Draco and Harry are really gay and in love is one usual plot.(http://www.thehexfiles.net/index.php)

    Anyway, I would rather see AB fan fic any day, so who’s doing it?

  95. Samia says:

    markmaker, I absolutely agree with and LOVE what you said about DTWOF in your third paragraph:
    “I love that this strip has existed this long, I love that it exists not just as a beautiful fictional plot line or character set but also as a cultural memoir. How much of gay history has been captured here that would otherwise have slowly evaporated as we all age and move on?”

    DTWOF is veritably a cultural artifact,capturing the vicissitudes of life as it is experienced by the queer community. The strip is important to me not only because of the imagined life and community that it enables me to be a part of, but also because it allows me to learn about, appreciate and locate myself in a heritage that is also mine.

  96. Dicentra formosa says:

    Remember at the end of post-Dykes to watch out for, when Mo and Sydney are talking to Clarice and Ginger? Clarice and Toni have just bought their house and are also (unbeknownst to Mo & Sydney) discusing the posibilities of seeing other people while remaining a couple. Mo and Sydney are talking about their relationship and one of says to C & T that their long-term relationship is an inspiration and that they are, in fact “an institution.” It’s meant as a compliment but it comes across as something Clarice and Toni feel as a burden. Their relationship has become something so heavy that it might collapse under its own weight. I wonder if Alison feels the same way about the DTWOF strip. Reading everyone’s comments it’s clear that the characters are important to many, many people for all sorts of deep and emotionally fraught reasons. I’m sure this is a rewarding thing to know about one’s work; I can’t help but wonder if it is also bit of a weight. I’m glad Alison is taking a bit of the pressure off by cutting down to a monthly strip, and I will enjoy the flashbacks to the archives. I’m looking forward to interesting juxtapositions and resonances when we get to strips with current events and political references circa 1987.

  97. Jana C.H. says:

    Maybe if Katie did the actual posting and AB didn’t write anything to go with it, we could have an archive strip once a week for three weeks and then a new one? That wouldn’t be a strain, right? Huh? Pretty please?

    Ah, who am I kidding? AB would be constitutionally unable to have a strip posted without writing some sort of a comment. Forget I mentioned it.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Lily Tomlin: The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat.

  98. Aunt Soozie says:

    there are some young dyke comic artists working out there.
    google lesbian comic strips…oh wait, don’t…
    that’s one thing I hate, just put the word lesbian in there and you get all kinds of scary stuff.
    You can google “Kris Dresen” who I already shamelessly plugged a couple of times, but, Alison mentioned her as well. I love Kris’ Grace, a book she is working on and posting on the web as she goes. Also there’s a glbt comics consortium or something like that called Prism comics. check them out,too.

  99. Aunt Soozie says:

    It’s this
    “Prism Comics is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) creators in the comics industry”
    and for Kris

  100. Aunt Soozie says:

    Hope you don’t mind me posting those links.

  101. Josiah says:

    Jaibe & Feminista —

    There’s at least one straight male on the East Coast who’s been reading DTWOF since the early ’90s — me. I was introduced to Mo & the gang (along with Hothead Paisan) by a college girlfriend in about 1992. She was the founder of a bisexual women’s group at Yale (yes, another Yalie here — hi, isavelez!), and used to chalk things like “My boyfriend knows I’m a dyke” on the sidewalks during Pride Week.

    Fifteen years later, and I’m still reading DTWOF and surrounding myself with lesbians (various lesbian couples have lived with me & my wife for long stretches of time, including at least one smart lady who reads this blog). In fact, I’ve often wondered why there’s no male equivalent of “fag hag” for straight guys like me who hang out with lesbians…

  102. Lea says:

    geogeek- i was able to buy the first and third dtwof books fairly recently. the second one, though, i had to get used on ebay.

  103. Laura says:

    It is wierd for me to see all of these people saying how young they were when they came out. I guess it takes all times to do that I was in my mid twenties.
    It is really interesting to see how the characters have changed in thier looks. Also how the sizing/balance in the comics has changed. I think that the only real change have been the social issues.

    I remember first reading AB’s comix online at Gay.com and then started reading them in the Lesbian Connection until I found this site. I am really glad for the site. It is fun to read all of your entries.

  104. chris says:


    dear tim,
    thanks for visiting,
    we will try to tranlate it into english soon!
    all the best chris

  105. RachelB says:

    In 1987, I was married with a cat and a yuppie-type job, stridently determined to earn money and remain childless. I featured huge hair, shoulder pads and striding out in high heels. It took me another 8 years to come out. Now, I earn half as much working for a charity, have remarried (well, in a civil partnership) and have a son. And I always wear comfy shoes. I remember being so excited when I discovered DTWOF as part of my coming out process and devouring the first few books.

  106. Birka says:

    I discovered the DTWOF at my lesbian cousins home before I came out to myself. Then i came out and my MOM brought me the first book bak from a trip to Minnesota!

    in 87 though i went to school only 11 years old…

    have all of the books i could get hold of and love strolling through them regularly.

  107. fiona biswaps says:

    Hello all,

    I too have really enjoyed reading everyone’s memories of DTWOF and realize what a cultural phenomenon AB has created.

    My darling wife introduced me to DTWOF in 2002 and I ate it all up with a spoon. Instantly, I felt that I had found a group of friends in Mo, Lois, Sparrow, Toni and Clarice. I even subscribed to Lesbian News so I could read the strip (and let’s face it, LN really isn’t that good.) I was thrilled when I discovered the blog in 2004, even more so when we moved from the US to the UK as it means I can keep in touch with Mo and the gang.

    BTW, Josiah, some friends of mine came up with ‘Tuna Helper’ as the equivalent of fag hag for straights who hang out with lesbians. Feel free to borrow with pride!!

  108. calamityJ says:


    Yer a “dyke tyke,” so welcome!!

  109. Feminista says:

    Josiah–Now your mission,should you accept it,is to get more sensitive straight men to read DTWOF. The possibilities are endless–a meet-up group? a male feminist allies group (child care,cooking,listening,etc.)? a stay at home dads group?

  110. Doctor E says:

    I’ve been fairly successful in getting straight male comics geeks to read DTWOF and Fun Home. Regardless of the subject matter, it’s good comics.

  111. Elisablue says:


    Now I know how it feels like to have some Bush for president.

    And I’m fighting tears away.
    But no.
    I will not cry. Not in front of my children.
    Because there is only one thing to do in that kind of situation.
    Stand up and fight.

  112. Ellen Orleans says:


    Condolences on the election. If there is any silver lining, perhaps this will help the left grow stronger.

    Personally, I think it is okay to cry in front of your children. Shows them that a person can be sad and strong at the same time.

  113. Laura says:

    Elisablue, sounds like you’re in France. Quelle dommage about Sarkozy. Or as my people say, oy veh.

    In 1987 I was a mid-thirties long-out lesbian who was absolutely delighted to discover DTWOF. All of the weird PC stuff and goings-on about what to eat, what to wear, dealing with living in group houses, and the ever-so-fascinating (not!) topic of how many people one should be having sex with were at last the subject of some humor, hooray! I used to get our local Lesbian Resource Center newsletter mostly for the strip. Then I followed it to Lesbian Connection, and now, unable to wait for LC to arrive, I haunt the web. I’ve cited DTWOF in scholarly papers about lesbian experience because it is such a true mirror of our lives.

    I too would love to see some of our on-hiatus folks back in the line-up: Thea especially. Plus some of those horrible yet hilarious therapists (I think that you all should make regular fun of those of us who make our living this way as frequently as possible so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously), Cleo what’s her name? But whatever AB does I will continue to devour gladly. I’m glad you’re doing self-care AB- get off the road, stay home, enjoy spring, and our lasting thanks for two decades of great work.

  114. Elisablue says:

    Oy veh indeed, Laura … thanks.
    Yes, I live in France. I’m French.

    And Ellen, thanks for the condolences … And I guess I didn’t cry because I didn’t want to alarm them.

    There is a very large part of the french population which is very sad, angry and upset tonight. But also ready to fight.

  115. mk says:

    I discovered DTWOF sometime in 1989 when living in San Francisco. I may have seen it in college a year or two before but I could not relate to it at the time. There just wasn’t much of a lesbian scene where I was (Miami of Ohio) and what scene there was seemed so fragmented and full of conflict. However there was some good feminist activism at the time – anyone on this blog remember the sit-in for women’s safety of 1988?
    A lot of the San Francisco in the late 80’s, very early 90’s was like DTOWF. When I went to Old Wives Tales bookstore to look for a place to live on their housing bulletin board (no internet in 1989) I found all kinds of lesbian only, no meat, no male vistors after 8pm type households. It all seemed very exotic to me. Once I found DTWOF I followed it faithfully till today. In fact, opening one of her books, I can often look at a strip and remember what I was doing at the time it came out. That’s a cool thing to me. Thanks AB!

  116. Colino says:

    Oops, right Elisablue, I should have checked out the latest entry first… Guess I was pretty upset myself. I’ve had my fill of those election nights which feel like wakes.

  117. Jay says:

    Another gay male fan over here. I moved to NYC in 1989 and was just coming out about when Out magazine started up. Reading DTWOF in it was very comforting to me – that it was okay to laugh at all these things I was going through (in parallel of course – but the characters were human enough that it worked for me).

    And it’s still comforting. A reminder that no relationship is perfect, that they need to be worked on, that most everyone has to deal with helping aging parents, but that yes we can still manage life with grace and a bit of humor.

    Sigh, hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago.

  118. Josiah says:

    Thanks for the terms, fiona and calamityJ — I may take “dyke tyke” over “tuna helper”, as it’s more flattering to me and slightly less rude! (But I’ll try not to blush if anyone calls me a “tuna helper”!)

    Feminista and Doctor E, I’ve been pushing pretty hard for the straight guys at my local comics shop (whose main comics fare is Marvel and DC) to read Fun Home. I’m not sure if any of them have taken me up on it yet — but maybe I’ll have more luck now that it’s been nominated for an Eisner. Come to think of it, I’m not particularly “out” to them as an LGBT supporter — I mean, I’ve got the HRC yellow equals sign on my car, but that’s fairly innocuous, especially in Connecticut. I suppose I should take an opportunity to recommend DTWOF, as well as Fun Home. The problem is that I’d be more likely to get traction with the folks who read Eightball and Love and Rockets and Acme Novelty Library — all of which I read as well. But I don’t really have a community with whom I can discuss those more literate comics the way I talk with the guys at the comics shop about the Marvel and DC superhero soap operas: “Is Captain America really dead?”, et cetera. (I’m 35, and my inner fanboy is showing no signs of growing up.)

    Actually, the environment I’d be more likely to have success evangelizing for DTWOF at would probably be with theater people (I’m an actor). Theater folks would certainly appreciate the dyke drama and comedy Alison spins so well. I often hide my comics obsessions from my theater friends, but it would certainly be less shameful to be found reading DTWOF backstage rather than, say, Martian Manhunter or Blue Beetle

  119. Jana C.H. says:

    When Fun Home came out I went to the comics store in the Pike Place Market and asked if they had it. They had never heard of it, or DTWOF, or Alison Bechdel. To think I used to buy “Gay Comics” there!

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Some people drink, some people gamble, some like whips and chains– I buy books.

    P.S. Josiah– I’ve started buying Marvel’s new “Ultimate” books in trade paperback format. After twenty-five years I don’t want to plunge back into the Marvel Universe, but it’s fun for an old-timer like me to see new twists on Stan Lee’s stories. Mainstream comics haven’t had a new idea since the late Sixties; they’re all still mining Stan Lee.

  120. Debbie says:

    Oh my goodness… i feel like I’m 20 yrs old again, and flipping through “The Front Page” back in Charlotte. 🙂

  121. Kai in Australia says:

    1991 First year of uni (UNSW for all the Aussies) and stuck in a parentally-chosen bachelor of economics course. Found escape in large but otherwise extremely unprepossessing library, and venturing into the distant corners of the periodical stands, almost slipped on some copies of Off Our Backs that were lying around on the floor. It was my first exposure to “Feminism”. (And then they had this great comic strip- and with the word DYKE in the title!)
    1992 Came out. (Oh, and swapped my course to a B.A)

  122. Josiah says:

    Now, now, Jana, that’s not fair — in addition to all the comics that are still mining Stan Lee, there’s Vertigo: an entire line of comics dedicated to mining Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. 😀

  123. Pam I says:

    Bring back Howard the Duck. Now that was radical.

  124. Butch Fatale says:

    Josiah — I’ve always been fond of “Lesbro” myself.

    I wish “fag hag” weren’t so popular — it’s such a sadly denigrating term.

  125. Josiah says:

    Yeah, I’m not terribly fond of “fag hag” myself. I wonder why it is that the culture-as-a-whole requires a term for straight women who hang out with gay men, but doesn’t seem to require one for — well, me? I do like “Lesbro” though. And “dyke tyke” is cute (although it could be confusing — it sounds a bit like it could be referring to the child of lesbians, rather than a guy who hangs out with them).

  126. LondonBoy says:

    Dear Elisablue,

    As you can tell, I write from the UK. There is, as you know, a historic rivalry between our two peoples, driven partly by our complex shared history over the past thousand years, and partly by fundamental differences in philosophical outlook. A great many people here were hoping that Royal would win, but I am sad to say that this is because they were wishing France ill, not good. From where I am sitting Sarkozy looks like the candidate of France’s future, while Royal, with her vague promises, looks like an echo of the recent past – a recent past that has largely been one of relative decline for your country.

    Although it is difficult to see this from inside France, from outside it is easier to see that your great country is facing the same kinds of trouble that Britain did in the 1970s: structures put in place over many years to protect and support the needy and at-risk have become ossified and work to the advantage of only some, not all. The example of your labour laws is one of the clearest: by protecting those who already have jobs, the young ( on whom France will rely in the future ) are being deprived of the chance to become fully integrated into society, and forced to take second-class jobs. The same is true in fields as diverse as tax law and intellectual property: initially good ideas have been stretched too far, and are now harming rather than helping.

    I can entirely understand your fears about Sarkozy: he says he will bring big changes, and some of these are potentially very worrying. To me this seems an exact parallel with our election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979: many were full of fear, and she certainly brought change with her. Many resisted her ideas at the time, and some of her more extreme ideas were quite rightly challenged, and have, since her departure, been reversed. But this is not to say that her ideas were all bad: the vast majority of the population here have been won over to her general principles, and there are very few indeed who would like to return to the ways of the 1960s and 70s. I believe it is quite possible that in time France will go through something similar with Sarkozy. He may never, perhaps, be loved, but many of his ideas do make sense for France at this time.

    That said, some of Sarkozy’s ideas are potentially risky or damaging for the social cohesion of France if not well-implemented. For example, like many others we in London are watching his ideas on immigration with great interest and no little concern: these must be implemented with great care and compassion if they are to be ultimately beneficial. The job of those who are opposed to Sarkozy is to ensure, in the most constructive way possible, that implementation of his ideas is consistent with the broader humanitarian principles that form the bedrock of the French state.

    One mistake that people interested in politics make is to demonise their opponents. My fear is that the French left may go too far down this route. Of course no-one’s motives are entirely unmixed, but I believe that in his heart Sarkozy is trying, and will try, to do his best for the country that gave his family refuge. Certainly he has ideas that are sharply different from those of a large minority in France, but that does not make him automatically evil. I hope I can encourage you to see the good aspects of his plans, and support then, and resist only those of his ideas that are genuinely harmful.

    I remarked at the beginning of this post that there are those in England who dislike France, and were hoping that Royal would win, giving France another five years of the “old French model” – another five years of economic, social and political stagnation. With the election of Sarkozy France now has a chance to change, and all change involves loss, but my own feeling is that what will be lost over the next few years will be outweighed by what is gained. Europe and the world needs a confident and stable France: I hope that this is what the election of Sarkozy will bring, with the co-operation and considered consent of all France.

    Finally, have faith in the French constitution and the French people: both are strong enough to endure the coming changes. With warmest good wishes to you.

  127. Elisablue says:

    Dear Londoy Boy, thank you so much for your words …

    I must say for myself that I stand between France and England, for my mother is English and my father is French. If I add that my grand-father was Hungarian and probably Jewish, that my children are from a father from a Jewish Polish family, you will have the whole picture. When I saw your post a few moments ago, you cannot imagine the joy, la joie que j’ai ressentie, the joy I felt. But this is very personal, very deep, as if some other voice in me was speaking. So it is not to an entirely French person you wrote to, and it is not an entirely English person who’s writing back …

    I will try to explain to you why, as I ‘m concerned, there are such violent reactions to Sarkozy’s election, in spite of a large majority. And I will ask you to sit next to me, to us for a minute …
    I believe (but this is a personal and therefore limited point of view) that he has won, partly, by reactivating some of the darkest hours in our history. I do believe that he has connected with something that is deeply rooted in my country, the extreme-right stream that lurks beneath, from deep in the 19th century to l’Affaire Dreyfus to Maurice Barrès to Vichy up to Le Pen. He has done so by constantly using the language and images of exclusion, division and hate. The people responsible for our difficulties are, in his words, immigration, the young people living in the suburbs, people living on welfare and what he calls the hords of civil servants. France, in his words, seems to be divided between those who “rise early”, la France qui se lève tôt, and the lazy, parasite-like others. He has twisted, in his speeches, the words and thoughts of great left-wing historical leaders such as Jean Jaurès or Léon Blum, he has claimed the heritage of Guy Môquet, the young Communist Resistant who heroically died at seventeen, executed by the Nazis. He has repeatedly said that our country has had enough with “repentance”, which means that we must stop feeling guilty about Collaboration during World War II or colonialism or slavery. We have not invented the “Solution Finale”, we are not responsible for Auschwitz, he said a few weeks ago. And saying this, he is destroying the timid work already accomplished by France in recognizing its responsabilities through its history. This man has brought my country into a form of regression as he is claiming the reverse, which is supposed to be movement. And doing so, he his damaging its soul and memory .

    I don’t know if that has been felt and understood outside of France, because I’ve felt we’ve been living in some kind of autistic isolation these past few weeks … He has touched deeply to some things in our history, and also to some of the nation’s hidden desires (or maybe not so hidden): desires of “l’homme fort”, the strong man, the One who will get us out of whatever pit we have fallen in. The King. Robespierre. Bonaparte. De Gaulle. I can tell you, he is indeed talking to something very deep-rooted in this nation. But the ideas he has brought up doing so are the ones which have lead Europe to its worst hours. I know it was a strategy to undermine the Front National, the extreme-right wing party ( and he has achieved that) but doing so is highly dangerous, harmful, humanly and politically. And he has done so also by weaving a very powerful and real web around the influent media.
    The young people rioting, the Black and Arab sons and grandsons of immigrants, the young people of French origin are not throwing things to some M. Thatcher. To some liberal model. They’re shouting “Sarko facho” which means “Sarkozy faschist”. Which is of course not the reality, which is unfair . But Sarkozy, by his manners and speeches, has sown violence. So, if he is not careful and wise, he will harvest that violence. I do believe that a country is like some giant being. I do believe that if you speak to its inner darkest powers and currents, you awake them. I do believe that the women and men in charge of a country are not only there to lead them to economical wealth, to possess more, and more, and more. They are there to help a country to give birth to itself, constantly.
    Now, having said that, I do know my country needs to find a new way, a new rhythm through this high-paced world. I know that if it has so broadly chosen that man, and not Ségolène Royal, it has a meaning. I suspect Sarkozy will quickly change in the process. For this is a country which is not so easily tamed. He will learn and we will change.Even if it’s not a peaceful process.
    And yes, as you said, I do have faith ..

    Having said all that, I’m only saying that as myself, at the crossroads of many families and there are so many more aspects to this election …

    So, London Boy, je te souris …

    I miss England. Often.

  128. LondonBoy says:

    Dear Elisablue,

    Thank you for your kind reply ( and thank you, Alison, for making this dialogue possible ). Your feelings are very clear, but I hope and believe there is another side to what you are saying.

    Every country has its black moments of history, as well as its moments of pure heroic humanity. Even the United States, perhaps the least sullied great power in history, has had its darker hours – indeed, there are many who would say that night has even now fallen on Washington. But for every night, and for every dark moment, there is a dawn, and a stroke of purest light.

    When I think of France I do not think of the Terror, or collaboration, or l’Affaire Dreyfus, though of course they are part of the story of France. Rather, when I think of France I think of the great home of The Rights of Man, of the laws of Jules Ferry on education, and of the vast achievements of French thinkers over hundreds of years. But more than that I think of the France of a thousand small quiet villages, each peopled with good and honest citizens who resisted France’s darker hours with calm and courage. For every wickedness that has marked your country there have been a myriad of kindnesses, unremarked and unrecorded. Certainly, France has expressed its character in this election, but there is a deeper character too to France, slow to awaken but mighty in effect, and it is a character formed from the good souls of its good people. These good people do not appear in histories or national biographies, but it is they, and not the Petains and Robespierres, who form the character of the nation. Petain is dead. Robespierre is dead. One day Sarkozy too will be dead. But the deep soul of France has outlived, and will outlive, them all.

    In the past France has seen many darker times than this, and it has survived. The quiet people of your country – good, decent, brave people – will not let the light of France go out. However dark the night, dawn comes again to every city, whether it be Paris, or London, or Washington.

  129. Alex K says:

    Comments that provide another reason to offer LondonBoy a pint.

    (Yoo-hoo! LondonBoy! Over here! SE22!)

    Et alors, Elisablue — on sera tres heureux si tu nous joignes au “pub”, on t’accuellira (et pas comme refugiee!) avec plaisir et avec de la fameuse cervoise tiede…

  130. Alex K says:

    “Accueillira” meme. Drole de mot!

  131. bre says:

    When this came out I hadn’t been born yet. It was still the first DTWOF I ever saw because I was obsessive about reading them in order (bought the entire collection slowly with birthday and hanukkah money my {uptight, southern, NRA card carrying..} grandparents gave me. hehe. I had just come out in a small town and DTWOF was all I had…plus I was in the same situation as Mo, hopelessly frustrated over being single. Now I have a girlfriend though and I’ve been out for going on 3 years and I’m pretty happy. Love the strip, can’t wait until you get back to new stuff but the old stuff is still definately fun.

  132. Rae says:

    All these nostalgic responses make me feel so young. I don’t have any memories to share from 1987, I wasn’t even born until ’88.

    That said, it is amazing how the readership of DTWOF spans so many generations. In fact, we read and discussed some of these strips in my literature class at a huge, public, state university in the South. I appreciate living in a time where it is relatively easy to be an out teenager, and where I can access things like this on-line and read strips that were written before I was even born, or buy the books and have them delivered to my door.

    So, thanks all.

  133. Louise says:

    Hey, I just wanted to comment on LondonBoy’s and Elisablue’s exchange. Thank you both for your articulate and compassionate viewpoints on the French elections and on recent British history. You filled in a lot of blanks for this US’er, and I appreciate it.

    I wanted add something about London Boy’s comment: “… the United States, perhaps the least sullied great power in history…”

    The US has many wonderful and brilliant things about it, especially the Founding Fathers’ vision of democracy. But we all know that our country has never lived up to that vision (though many people and groups throughout our history have made good strides in that direction), and that our country was actually built upon stolen land and stolen labor.

    There’s been an inherent contradiction in the United States from the moment of our conception–the vision of an entire country based on equality vs. how that country was actually made.

    We US’ers do have many things to be proud about, and many reasons to love our country, but we also have this violent and unreconciled past. I believe that our collective amnesia/numbness/denial about our origins is the root of the struggles we have and messes we find ourselves in today.

    One of the ways we’ve handled this contradictory history is to place the blame for the worst oppression on the South, where slavery was concentrated. So many of the qualities of our country that we don’t care to own up to, we tend to dump on the South and Southerners. The fact is that the economy of the North was dependent on the crops and raw materials produced by enslaved people in the South. So in reality, the wealth generated by slave labor benefited business interests all over the US.

    Which brings me to bre’s list of adjectives “…uptight, southern, NRA card carrying…” Speaking as a Southerner, I’d just like to say that the South isn’t either a good or bad place, it’s just another region of the United States. But there’s a way in which “Southern” is so frequently used as a shorthand for “oppressive.” It just ain’t so.

    I just think that if we US’ers were to face our history with honesty and compassion, we’d be so much less inclined to make people into “other”, whether we be GLBT, African-American, immigrants, Southern or Iraqi….or anyone else you can think of.

  134. Sarah (future CPA) says:

    Yay for cute lesbian accountants! ;-D

  135. Elisablue says:

    De la cervoise tiède … mmmm … Thank you Alex, not too tiède for me please … 🙂 … I would love to join you two for a pint today, somewhere in London …

    London Boy, I guess I was trying to reflect on how a man or a woman achieves his or her conquest (although I don’t like the word I can’t find another one …) of power in a country like France. Sarkozy has deliberately chosen the way of surfing on the extreme-right wave. This is, I think, more an electoral strategy than something out of very deep-rooted convictions. Sarkozy is not Le Pen (our extreme-right leader). But he is one hell of a political animal. He has emerged from the post-war generations, eager to get rid of those who had lived through World War II. There is some kind of very normal and natural turnover there. I do not believe, indeed, that we are living a “dark time”, because it would be indecent to make parallels with what Europe and our country lived 60 years ago. Indecent and historically inadequate. But I’m deeply concerned by the way that man has, in the past few months, manipulated ideas that have been very active in the past. He has won these elections through ideas of stigmatisation, national identity linked in a very ambiguous way to what he calls “chosen immigration”, he has been elected on ideas of order and moral order. I’m not taking my point of view to some Godwin point. There have been many studies recently on Sarkozy’s speeches, he has indeed been using specific extreme-right rhetorics and imageries.And anyway I don’t need studies to know he has done so, I can feel it in my guts, and it doesn’t feel good. I can put it in all kind of careful sentences, but London Boy, as I’m concerned, that stinks.

    So my question is, right now, why on earth is my country responding to this ? What kind of landmark is it looking for ? How can a country build itself without the full knowledge of its past ?
    Louise, I like what you said about facing history with honesty and compassion, about contradictions in the way a country can build itself. Because, yes, how can a country build its future without understanding and facing its past ? Over here, Sarkozy has managed at once to make the country fall is some kind of historical regression and to promote the right to historical amnesia. This is, among many other things, how he won the elections, as I’m concerned.

    I can feel something quite strange today in France, as if half the population is stunned and the other half not quite sure of what it has done … We the people, the “good people” as you put it, dear London Boy, have indeed largely chosen something for our country (the man is Sarkozy, it could have been someone else, and I agree, he will necessarily dead in a few years) , and in a very laborious way, I’m sorry, I’m trying to understand what’s happening there. I guess we’re quite a few million people in the same kind of questionning …
    But, indeed, yes, of course, we’ll survive … 🙂 …

    Alison, thank you for hosting that “Entente cordiale” dialogue … 🙂
    I guess I’m in a Mo / Clarice post-election political logorrhean brooding mood …

  136. Ellen Orleans says:

    Louise — thanks for writing your post.

    The European conquest of the “Americas” started with right off with slavery and the oppression has never stopped. (Read The People’s History of the United States) I continue to benefit and participate in this oppression even as I am both opressed myself and working for equality for all.

    It’s a tough this to reconcile, this duality of life.

  137. Feminista says:

    I echo Ellen Orleans’suggestion to read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the U.S. Also I suggest Born for Liberty by Sara Evans (multi-cultural women’s history)and Ron Takaki’s Strangers from Another Shore (Asian-American history). They are all well-researched but written in accessible styles. I could suggest more,but then I’d have to do a whole bibilography!

    I met Zinn o/a 1994 at a Ralph Nader sponsored and funded conference on Teaching Activism in Washington,DC. He is a gentle,kind knowledgable man who at 87 is still publishing.
    He was Alice Walker’s mentor in her two years at Spellman College and their friendship continued throughout the years.

  138. Kelli says:

    Don’t become so stricken with guilt that you become incapable of taking concrete action that has actual benefits to those living in the here and now.

    Guilt should only act as a reminder of what not to do, but too often it becomes a quagmire of recrimination and misdirected attempts at redress.

  139. ready2agitate says:

    I’m so crazy busy with finals right now (yes, getting a Masters at age 41), I’m going to have to print off this exchange betw LondonBoy & ElisaBlue + Louise so that I can read it with attn. at a later date. Imagine that – the DTWOF blog conversation makes its way to my “must read” pile! btw, I just took my final for Samantha Power’s Human Rights & US Foreign Policy class – check out her book “A Problem from Hell” for more insight on the impact of US foreign policy in the age of genocide….

  140. ED says:

    Isn’t this funny – here we are talking about it, and I’ve even managed to see an old acquaintance from college on this discussion. (Hello Sudro!) These discussions of the older strips really do bring us together. I’ve been reading DTWOF since 1991 when I came out. Even though I have had the books for years, I still like seeing the first strip with Mo and Lois here. Wonderful stuff.

  141. chewy says:

    The cliff hanger note at the end, sooo dramatic!


  142. Olivier says:

    As a frenchman who has lived abroad for the last 13 years and has very mixed feelings towards his home country, tending towards ill-wishing, but who still takes an interest in the dispatches from there, I would like to say I think Elisablue is entirely correct that Sarkozy’s victory is the death certificate of gaullisme, i.e., of the presentable right, and marks the return of the old right, la droite maurrassienne.

    Worse still, while all the other candidates are patriots, yes even Le Pen, Sarkozy is an american toady in the mold of Tony Blair, John Howard or Stephen Harper. Read the excellent analysis by Diana Johnstone on the CounterPunch web site, paying especial attention to the last paragraph: http://www.counterpunch.org/bricmont04172007.html. That alone ought to have disqualified him. Just today I read that Bush proclaimed himself “eager to start working with Sarkozy”. Yeah, I bet he is.

    Last but not least he has enjoyed rapturous support from The Economist all along, the same rag that loyally supported Bush and even his Iraq war throughout (and for all I know still does). Surely that should tell you something?

    Bottom line: I am disgusted and I don’t care if he runs the trains on time.

  143. Alex K says:

    A partial misstatement, surely, regarding the stance taken by THE ECONOMIST – I remember its editors as backing removal of Saddam Hussein but, straight along, as deploring the process of going to and making war (presentation of “dodgy” and later provenly falsified information to win support of governments and governed; disregard of opposition by governments and governed; failure to establish and to maintain post-conquest close administration), and as long being particularly vociferous in their condemnation of Rumsfeld.

    Not quite “throughout”, at least in my recollection.

    THE ECONOMIST gets things wrong. (It recommended Eurotunnel stock.) We’ll see if its support for Sarko is justified by post-electoral events, at least once S gets back from yachting.

  144. Sir Real says:

    I’d ransacked my hometown library for anything smacking of sexual and/or gender non-conformity for years, and found but a few items, mostly about gay men… that was dandy as I mostly identified/y with fey fags, but still – limited.

    I’d had the privilege of seeing happy and whole seeming queer-type folks around and about, thank goddesses, but still it meant so much to me, at 16 or 17, to find the first two DTWOF books in a bookstore while on a family vacation in 86 or 87.

    I’ve pounced on them all ever since, have practically memorized them, and DTWOF strips serve as my memory-landmarks for quite a few events. [BTW it was Mo, not Ginger, who was ogling random dykes at the Topaz, and the way their jeans fit 🙂 ] The end of Spawn still makes me cry, perhaps most of all for the moment when Mo cycles home, briefly full of hope and joy rather than rotely-despairing-kvetching.

    For so long I felt horribly inadequate compared to the characters! Here I was bi/multisexual, “not just non-monogamous but anti-monogamy”, (see the first DTWOF volume) meat eating, not constantly active politically, gender confused and confusing – it was a strange release and relief when AB revealed in The Indelible that she doesn’t often take to the picket line, and that the font of her drawing inspiration was, for so long, male men images. Thanks for coming out about that, AB. Among thanks for everything else!

  145. Olivier says:

    Yes there has been some tut-tut’ing from The Economist over this or that issue but their basic position has always been that Bush is the best man for the job: they backed him in his second campaign. In any case as a frenchman, even one with doubts and reservations, I am hardly impartial when it comes to that monument of British humbug that is The Economist 😉

  146. Jay says:

    Hate to contradict you, but while they (to their shame) backed Bush in the first election The Economist backed Kerry in the second election. They’ve been pretty anti-Bush for a while now. Albeit because of his incompetence in Iraq (and elsewhere) rather than because of the invasion itself.

  147. Marshalldoc says:

    Back to the roots!

    Being a straight, white, over-the-hill male I’ve been reading DTWOF since I first came across the strip in my monthly ‘Funny Times’ and subsequently bought all the books including “Fun Home”.

    The essential quality of Allison’s art is that, while she speaks specifically to the GLBTI community, her message – as do all the issues of life – transcend that community and (barring crippling homophobia) illuminate the issues that we all face in our lives. Who among us has never asked themselves whether they were too principled or just a plain drag?

  148. LondonBoy says:

    Perhaps you’re misunderstanding the word “humbug”, which carries within it the connotation of an “intent to deceive or delude”, or ( in my experience rather more rarely ) the connotation of nonsense. Neither of these can reasonably be applied to the Economist. Whilst you may disagree with the magazine’s stance or conclusions, it seems to me distinctly inappropriate to assume that these are reached through some form of intellectual or other dishonesty. The strong impression I have is that the Economist is trying to come to well-reasoned conclusions, relying ( as far as possible ) on observable data. My own view is that it is rarely dogmatic, and even its basic philosophy is reached from the fairly utilitarian view that a generally free society and economy is observably better at delivering a happy and healthy populus than the alternative options. As I have remarked elsewhere, it seems to me a mistake to ascribe deliberate malice to others, simply because they have reached conclusions other than one’s own.

  149. malefan says:

    I have to say, while it’s a rougher draw, it’s more powerful, more real, especially Lois.

    In today’s strips which I also love, they are cartoon characters that are loosely based on someone real, someday in the past, but definitely cartoons first.

    In this strip, Lois looks far more individual, far more real to me, especially in the solo profile panel. You just know that was someone real. There is far more reality in her face which reflects the character’s future as a wild and crazy guy (sorry original SNL fans will get that LOL)

    Mo is also more real to me, but due to the link between Mo and the real person she is not supposed to resemble in the least, it’s not so dramatic.

    The rough original strip is very cool to look at, thanks.

  150. Zapaper says:

    Hi! I’m here for the first time after reading (and loving) Fun Home. Thanks for starting back at the beginning. What a happy accident. I look forward to reading more.

    (P.S. I’m straight but I like to draw autobiographical comics, just for fun, and I think your work is awesome.)

  151. rugrat0ne says:

    I started reading DTWOF back in ’95 or ’96, I think, with the first edition of the Tucson Comic News. Prior to that, I think I’d seen one strip taped to a friend’s fridge and been mildly intrigued. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to see the early strips, personally.

    Me? I was in college, and right smack in the middle of my “oh-no-no-no-no-no, I can’t possibly be a lesbian! Please shut up, overly honest voice in the back of my head!” phase. (I’m over it)

    DTWOF was incredibly comforting for me, a way to get a glimpse of the community I wanted to be part of, without having to admit anything to myself yet. Just one more step along the way, I guess.

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  158. yakov says:

    your early art style looks like early R. Crumb. nowadays, i don’t know if anyone’s told you this, but it makes me think of Jim Woodring’s JIM comics. it’s an interesting progression.

    of course your style is your own and it’s wonderful. i’ve been wandering around this web site for a while and it definitely makes me want to read FUN HOME. you know, at first i thought you were that BITCHY BITCH artist whose art i can’t stand to look at… i guess there’s more than one lesbian cartoonist out there!!! 😛

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