ich bin lesbisch

February 1st, 2008 | Uncategorized


Thanks to NLC for alerting me to the fact that someone has posted my German TV interview on YouTube. It’s all in German of course, so who knows what they’re saying. But it looks really good! All slick and professional, with little slow-motion bits that make things appear dramatic and luminous instead of the gritty, everyday way they really are.

They show the sex scenes in my book! Imagine that happening in this godforsaken land of puritans.

62 Responses to “ich bin lesbisch”

  1. Aranea says:

    Thanks for posting that, Alison.
    As far as I can tell, the German voice-over doesn’t say anything that we long-term fans don’t know already (except – hang on… Did they really say you spent 14 hours a day drawing? Or my German not as hot as I thought?) but it was worth watching – well, to me at least – for the look we get at the famous diary that’s described in Fun Home, as well as a few original photographs.

  2. Aranea says:

    Listened again and yes, that’s “often 14 or 15 hours a day”. Now that’s dedication…

  3. JenK says:

    That is a fantastic piece.

    What impressed me more than them showing the sex scenes is that the German edition of the book has the journal entries translated to German too…

  4. kate mck says:

    extremely cool.

  5. Cate says:

    That is so great — even with only about 12 words of german I got the feel of it. Luminous is the exact right word. congrats!

  6. jonina says:

    It’s really cool seeing youu book featured on ttt, a program I used to watch frequently when I still had a TV. I like the slow motion parts!
    Nice “katzen” photo, btw

  7. Heath says:

    And they compared your prose to John Updike’s. Nice.

  8. Renata says:

    The Brazilian version also had the journal entries translated into Portuguese.
    But I felt that that was so natural, without it the story would lose so much of its context.

  9. mela says:

    hey, i am german native speaker … and well, they translated you pretty accurate.
    the voice over voice is also reading a not too bad researched text on you and the book.

    greetings from austria.

  10. tiredlitmama says:

    This clip was strangely beautiful for me, in a relaxed sort of way. I don’t know– maybe I was lilted into a sort-of dream state by the fact that I understood only about 10% of the German, but the piece didn’t seem to have the hyper, question-after-question pacing of an American piece.

    BTW– My brother loved his Fun Home gift for Christmas– you are my new go-to-girl for all things gifty.

  11. Andi says:

    I really like how the German director/editor set this up. It opens with scenes from a small town in Vermont, cute little post office, little back roads, cozy cabin in the woods… But this town is home to… a lesbian! CARTOONIST!

    I also love how they say the word “coming…(out)” just as they show one of the sex scenes. And that the title of your dad’s book was hand-lettered in German. And best of all, that they included a piece of “The German Invasion,” where you’re filming them filming you filming them…. tres post moderne!

    PS: Kitty completely steals the show with that look towards the camera. She’s like, “I’m ready for my close up, Mister DeMille.” Me-yow!

  12. Deena in OR says:


    I just watched the video. The snapshot of your dad, then the panel of him. I’m blown away.

    And I have a question. At the very end of the video, you say something that starts with “One of my greatest regrets is…” and then the audio is covered by the translation voice over. What was the end of that sentence??? Enquiring minds want to know. (I want to know!)

  13. Idealistic Pragmatist says:

    Well, it says that you’ve been drawing comics for 25 years in which you’ve always “played the starring role.” Um…not quite! But the rest is okay.

  14. Idealistic Pragmatist says:

    Deena: It the “greatest regret” that her dad never took her to a gay bar. *g* The translation doesn’t quite work, though, because the word they used is the word for “gay mens’ bar,” which is not the sort of place one would take a lesbian daughter…

    P.S. It also says that Fun Home reads like a novel by John Updike (!).

  15. The Cat Pimp says:

    Thanks for the link. I love your pudgy little kitty 🙂

  16. Ayala says:

    I liked the interview even though I didnt understand a word they were saying.

    But it was interesting to look at the german edition. it made me wonder who’s job it is to translate it, cause its gotta be accurate, and if they even changed the diary part its even more complicated.

  17. BrooklynPhil says:

    Sorry for bringing in a totally new topic, but I saw “Persepolis” last night and thought it was superb. I also kept thinking, Alison Bechdel should consider this for either Fun Home, DTWOF, or a new project.
    Yes?? Maybe???

  18. Noominal says:

    It is possible to subtitle it here:


    But someone has to have an account (free), upload it, caption it (key it in), then translate it to English (turkish, albanian, etc…)

    TubeTV can suck it to your harddrive from the YouTube URL, but are there any obsessed German fans out there who want to transcribe this as a labor of love?

  19. Ginjoint says:

    Yeah, I certainly can’t imagine 60 Minutes showing those particular panels of the book.

    The most powerful part of that piece was seeing the diary from when you were a child, and the handwriting. To hold that in your hands…such an echo that must be.

  20. Ian says:

    I think the most surreal bit was seeing the bits of film they’d shot of locations and the diary in your book. Having read Fun Home a few times now, they were eerily and quite spookily familiar.

    I don’t know why, but seeing flashes of the locations made it far more real than reading the book. Which isn’t a criticism of your writing. It’s just that it’s easy to think of it as a work of fiction. But when an outsider sees the locations in ‘real life’ it makes it so much more real and more powerful. For me, anyway.

    It also made this philistine realise just how much effort you put into your art.

  21. Fräulein says:

    Yaaahhhooo! Das hat spaß gemacht! That was fun to watch- the cat was delightful as was the Hauptkünstlerin. How cool that it was on the ARD (main German T.V. station). I’m happy to be living here in this beautiful country where people can be calm and rational. Sometimes I wish they’d cheer up a titch but hey. Just as a pro-German aside- once I was working with a bunch of grade 7 kids discussing the concept of “rights” and I asked what rights were important to them. A boy shot his hand up and said “that gay people can get married”. Like I said- calm and rational. (not everyone, but still- a 7th grade kid!)

  22. Raffi says:

    I agree about seeing the childhood diary in real life..it’s even more messed up than I imagined!

  23. Ginjoint says:

    This may tick off many readers of this blog, but despite everything, I’m so glad I was born here (America). Present administration aside, I do love this country. Sooooo much, as a matter of fact.

  24. Suzanonymous says:

    Why did Fun Home not remind me of Fanny and Alexander before? I guess it was the added music.

  25. dc says:

    Yes, it also occured to me that Fun Home would make a kick ass movie after seeing Persepolis. Maybe Alison has already got offers to do that….? That would be a blast!

    Now we can start thinking of who should do the voices for the various characters 🙂

    Persepolis actually managed to get Catherine Deneuve to play the mother in the film!

    Who would you like to be your voice, Alison?

  26. sk in london says:

    Alison thanks for posting the video link … and what folks write about diversity …. isn’t it interesting how AB’s story is translatable and culturally valuable in so many languages and countries? …
    That seems more significant to me than which place is better/worse to live in/be from….

  27. Ginjoint says:

    I didn’t say we’re better. I just said I’m glad.

  28. sk in london says:

    sorry Ginjoint, i apologize for the polarization…. it’s good fortune to be glad to be from where you are from and able to live…

  29. sk in london says:

    oo, that reads all wrong… but you get my drift..

  30. Miss C. says:

    “isn’t it interesting how AB’s story is translatable and culturally valuable in so many languages and countries? …”

    When I read Fun Home I was shocked and amazed and delighted at how so much looked like scenes from my own life as a young student of English literature whose father had just been killed in a car accident.
    AB’s urge to giggle inanely upon meeting her brother after coming home for the funeral, the scenes where AB browses books in the library or walks across campus – they struck chords so intimate it was mind blowing. So I am not at all surprised the book should be so translatable and do so well internationally.
    And what I saw from the German video (which I stayed up late for to see it on TV :-), they did a brilliant translation too (when the bouncer outside the nightclub asks AB for ID and her Dad says “I’m her dad”, the bouncer says “Ach Schätzelchen” – that’s priceless.
    It would be interesting to know if Fun Home strikes the same chord with younger readers, or if having a year of birth that starts with nineteen-six helps 😉

  31. Maggie Jochild says:

    For all of us trying to avoid the Super Bowl: Maria Shriver just threw her support behind Barack Obama.

    Kos says his dream ticket is Obama/Edwards: Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards. YEAH!

  32. Chris says:

    Seeing/hearing all the gendered language in the video made me wonder about languages and genderqueerness, probably a topic discussed ad nauseam (ooh, nausea is feminine? despite what 800,000 Google hits say for its correct spelling versus 1.4 million hits for “nauseum”) in the blog-comments already. How would one say in German, if Alison happened to identify something other than male/female, comiczeichner/comiczeichnerin?

  33. Jaibe says:

    It was great to watch the german film & your film of the germans back-to-back thanks to the techno=wizards at youtube. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to watching your film before, I’m sure it was even funnier with the german film before it!

    I also agree it was amazing to see all the stuff you write about — it was even bigger and more elaborate than I thought, your whole operation. I can’t learn that you don’t exaggerate, you understate.

  34. Kate L says:

    In my intro. geology lectures tomorrow, I will be talking about igneous features. One of them is the type of igneous intrusion that cuts across pre-existing rock; this type of feature is called a dike (spelled “dyke” by geologists in every other non-USA country of the world). My powerpoint slide showing a dike includes the legend, “Igneous features to watch out for”. Every semester, a few young women in the class appear to get the reference. And, a few weeks from now when I’m talking about planetary bodies in the solar system and last year’s debate over what constitutes a planet, I’ll show a Hubble Space Telescope photo of one of the outer solar system bodies that nearly made it to planetary status. The astronomers who discovered it in 2005 wanted to call it “Xena”, and to call its smaller companion moon “Gabrielle”. The Patriarchy (I mean, the International Astronomical Union, which controls the naming of celestial objects) turned these names down, and at the same time denied planetary status to Pluto (which had been the ninth planet since its discovery in 1930), and turned down planetary status for another prospective planet, Ceres (the largest asteroid, name for the ancient Greek goddess of agriculture). If Pluto stayed a planet, and Ceres became one (a proposal then before the IAU), Xena (larger than Pluto) would automatically have been a planet, too. Can’t have that. The astronomers couldn’t even get their suggested names for Xena and Gabrielle accepted by the IAU. They ended up called Xena “Eris” (after the ancient Greek goddess of discord), and its moon Dysnomia (Eris’ sidekick, known for her Lawless-ness).

    Years ago, a woman space scientist proposed naming a mountain range on Venus after the ancient Greek poet Sappho (the IAU has ruled that all names proposed for topographic features on Venus must be the names of real, or literary, or mythological women). I recently checked the on-line Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, and noticed that Sappho Montes never was officially accepted .

  35. thai tea says:

    Miss C,

    My birth year starts with 197- and Fun Home strikes dozens of chords for me. Lesbian daughters coming out in imperfect families know no era.
    Of course, the work of lesbians who went before made my coming out, and my family’s reaction, so much easier…

  36. andrewo says:

    Well, at least we could understand when you were talking to the postman.

    When “Fun Home” is translated, how do they emulate your handwriting? Do you give them the font? And what about the handwriting in the art? Do you redraw it all for each language, or approve the art?

  37. Ydnic says:

    @Kate L: Igneous features to watch out for

    I love it! As a fellow geologist, with planetary geology in my background, I have also been annoyed with the IAU’s choices. I look forward to seeing some Venusian feature named after Sappho someday. Perhaps we can suggest “Mo,” Lois,” “Clarice,” etc. as potential names.

    Mercury’s got LOTS of newly discovered and huge scarps that now need names. Let’s propose “Bechdel”!

    Back to the topic: I found the German interview quite moving. I don’t know if it was in spite of the fact that I don’t know a word of German, or because of it. They did a really lovely job.

  38. Hirwaite says:

    I don’t see why it’s that big of a deal, them showing the naughty bits from your book. I mean…Pink Flamingos was made and shown in America. We’re not *THAT* full of Puritan chaste.

  39. Miss C. says:

    thai tea,

    maybe I forget to mention I’m not gay (she admitted in a reverse coming-out-of-the-[lurking]-closet move), which was why I was so amazed at the similarities & chords being struck.

    I imagine that having Miss B. as an example is wonderful & emboldening support. She rocks so hard in so many areas! I’m weak with adoration.

  40. AnnaH says:

    my mothertongue is german. i enjoyed to clip to the fullest.

    it feels funny because normally I hear about allison bechdels comics in the “us” point of view. this was more the “them” perspective.

    yeah, I saw persepolis, after reading all of satrapi’s comic books. I loved it. One of my first thoughts after the movies was “it would be great if bechdel did a movie”. I would love a fun home movie, but I would also enjoy DTWOF or another story.

  41. Emma says:

    So, when will we see AB in Germany – reading and discussing the book?

  42. NLC says:

    Yndic wrote: As a fellow geologist, with planetary geology in my background, I have also been annoyed with the IAU’s choices. I look forward to seeing some Venusian feature named after Sappho someday.

    As an aside, that, perhaps, has some bearing on Yndic’s point:
    Speaking, too, as someone with some astronomical background (there seem to be a lot of us…) I’ll just note that, although “Venusian” is probably most commonly used, the actual adjective form of “Venus” is “Venereal”…

    (Although, personally I’ve always been fond of Carl Sagan’s suggestion of “Cytherian”.)

  43. Lea says:

    Just for info:
    The book was translated into German by Sabine Küchler and Denis Scheck who is known for his good translations. At the age of 6 he started to translate comics for himself in German.
    He has his own literature tv show, also on ARD (First German Televison): http://www.daserste.de/druckfrisch/. I heard that he is gay, but I don’t know if this is correct.
    Sabine Küchler is a writer and works for Deutschlandfunk (German radio). They both worked together before.

  44. Ginjoint says:

    So that’s where “venereal disease” comes from! It all makes sense now. I never knew. Thanks, NLC!

    I’m also enjoying the word “Deutschlandfunk.”

  45. frostedfraggle says:

    Off the top of my head a translation of all the voice overs – anything that sounds weird is most likely due to my lack of translation skills.

    Here we go:

    Once a week Allison Bechdel leaves her house in the woods of the US state Vermont and drives into the village. To do some shopping and to get the mail – most often fan post. When she returns she does what she’s been doing for the last 25 years – often 14-15 hours a day: she draws cartoons that always center around herself.

    ‘Fun Home’ – those are her memories of her childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania. A true story including a dark family secret.

    Her difficult relationship with her oftime imperious, emotionally cold father is the center piece of this graphic novel that reached bestseller status overnight in the US.
    Until then Allison Bechdel had only been known by insiders. With ‘Fun Home’ she leaped from being an underground star into the mainstream.
    Bechdel worked on the book for seven years and it also deals with her sexuality, her coming out. At some point she dares to write her mother about being a lesbian. The reaction to that letter she will never forget.

    The now 47 year old has been living in Vermont for 17 years. She moved here for love. They broke up while she was working on ‘Fun Home’. She says she had been too manical constantly digging around in her unhappy past, through all those old photos, letters and diaries.
    Center stage to the story is her family home. It is constantly done up and remodeled by her father. He puts all his love into it – the love he cannot or will not show his family.

    When Allison Bechdel is 19 years old her mother decides to file for divorce because she cannot bear her husband’s doublke life anymore. Two weeks later Bruce Bechdel is run over by a lorry. The Police declares it an accident. Allison Bechdel considers it suicide. Only know after working on ‘fun Home’ she has truely dealt with and overcome her father’s death.

    ‘Fun Home’ reads like a novel by John Updike. Simply great American literature in pointed words and artful pictures and told with a bittersweet sense of humor.

    ‘Fun Home’ has now been published here, too. A story of self discovery. A true story that plays like a movie.

  46. reverdy says:

    That was very lovely and interesting.

    Since it’s been mentioned a few times upthread, I did a quick translation. It probably isn’t the most elegant translation, but should be accurate. (Am I allowed to do that/ post it here?)

    Once a week AB leaves her house in the woods of the US state Vermont and drives to the village. To attend to shopping (“Einkäufe erledigen” implies groceries and other regular purchases) and to get her mail — fan mail usually.

    When she gets back she does what she’s always been doing for 25 years, not seldom 14 to 15 hours a day: she draws comics. In which she always is the main character.

    (Translation of German voice-over) AB: Yes, I write about the ‘self’ because I am in certain ways obsessed with myself.

    Fun Home — those are the drawn memories of her childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania. A true story with a dark family secret.

    (Transl. of VO) AB: I want to find out how we become what we are and what separates us from other people.

    Her complicated relationship with her often authoritative/overbearing, callous father is at the centre of this graphic novel that became a best-seller overnight in the US. Until then AB was at best known to insiders. With Fun Home she managed the jump from underground star into mainstream. 7 years B worked on the book. And it is also about her sexuality, her coming out. At some point she dared to write to her mother that she is lesbian. She’ll never forget the reaction to her letter.

    (Transl. of VO) AB: After a few weeks I spoke with her on the telephone about it. And she said directly that this wasn’t an unknown situation for her. And then she said that my father had affairs. Affairs? I thought. With other women? No, said she, with men and boys. It was as if I’d been hit by a baseball bat.

    For the past 17 years the now 47 year old has been living in Vermont. Because of love she moved here. But love/the relationship fell apart during the work on Fun Home. Too manic she had been (“sei sie gewesen” implies an opinion more than a statement of fact), had constantly rummaged in her unhappy/unlucky past, in all her old photographs, diaries, books.

    Main setting of the story: her family home. Again and again it is redesigned and altered by her father. All his love that he can’t give or doesn’t want to give to his family his puts into it.

    (Transl. of VO) AB: With 10 I developed a compulsion neurosis. One can see this in my diary. My handwriting progressively became more obscure and I made these strange markings. It got ever worse.

    AB is 19 when her mother wants to get divorced because she can no longer endure her husband’s double life. Two weeks later Bruce B is run over by a lorry. An accident, say the police. For AB it is suicide. Only now, with the work on Fun Home has she processed the death of her father.

    (Transl. of VO) AB: The funeral at the time was so surreal and meaningless. This now is simply a better way for me to remember my father.

    Reading Fun Home is like reading a novel by John Updike, simply great American literature. Told in pithy words and artful pictures and with bitter-sweet humour.

    (Transl. of VO): What I perhaps regret the most is that my father never took me along to a gay bar.

    Now Fun Home will also be published here. The story of an identification process, a true story that plays out like a film.

  47. reverdy says:

    Ah! frostedfraggle, I didn’t see your post a few minutes before mine. Sorry.

  48. Ydnic says:

    reverdy and frostedfraggle: Thank you! It’s especially great having two translations to ponder. The two of you filled in each other’s meanings more thoroughly.

    NLC: I will definitely use “Venereal” next time I need to shake up a planetary discussion!

  49. Suzanonymous says:

    Could I just say, would you (Alison) stop the workaholic hours? It’s not good for you and it’s.. puritanical!

  50. iara says:

    What’s wrong with spending 14 hours a day doing something that you really like, and that you are really good at? Does making money out of it make it any less enjoyable? I wish we could all do that.

  51. Andi says:

    On another note, I recently heard a graphic novelist interviewed on “Fresh Air” on NPR. Terry Gross, who is married to a man, but definitely a Dyke to Watch Out For, (partially due to her on-air smack down of the incredibly obnoxious and sexist Gene Simmons) has had several cartoonists on the show in the past. Alison, have you ever been on Fresh Air? It would be a great way to get the word out about Fun Home. Just a thought.

  52. Feminista says:

    Terry also did a great job standing up to Bill O’Reilly.

    I recall a DTWOF strip where TG was named Terry Grosz and David Van Cooley became David Van Coolguy. Nyuk.

  53. frostdfraggle says:


    no problem – i didn’t do the interview bits and having two translations probably helps to smooth over any kind of inaccuracy in either one.

  54. Annika says:

    It’s no wonder that they translated even the journal into german, that’s our german Gründlichkeit. 😉 I read the book in english and now in german, the translaters did a good job. Only the “Desert Boot” is no “Wüsten- Stiefel”, but the Desert Boot from Clark’s, isn’t it? Well, little Schnitzer…

  55. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, frostedfraggle and reverdy, for the transcript. Besides some people not understanding german, others are deaf and videos with voice-over (not to mention podcasts) are very problematic to them.

    Miss C., do you mind expatiating a bit on the Schätzelchen thing? My german is OK but not that idiomatic. Thanks in advance if you do.

  56. Olivier says:

    That’s me above: I forgot to identify myself.

  57. Ivabo Dwedi says:

    That’s great! I’m from germany and I’m very happy to see, that Fun Home now ist translated in german. I will pass that link to all my friends.
    Thanks very much!!!

  58. Iris says:

    I agree with Ivabo, I am happy, too.

    Viele Grüße aus Deutschland an alle Lesben, die hier mitlesen und -bloggen!

  59. irgendeine Userin says:

    I’ve read the book in september 2006. Wrote about it in my blog. 😉
    Then I heard it would be translated in German (well, thats my mother tongue) an released January 2008. I started to wait for the book.
    Normally it’s just a book and nobody talks about, but everyone (in newsmedia) talks about it.
    And now I have to see that even the German Television made news about it. I’ve missed the transmission. 🙁
    So thanks for sharing the link.
    And I love how times changes the attitude: Comic books are art and you are a great artist. 🙂

  60. Bettina says:

    “godforsaken land of puritans”? hey, you don’t seem to know anything about this beautiful small country in the far east 😉

  61. ninie says:

    I’ve read a paper today about fun home in der Standard (austrian newspaper). I was really surprised to see that Austrians and Germans did not have the book yet! I’m French and had the chance to read the French translation which was serialized last summer in Libération! J’ai beaucoup aimé! Merci Alison…

  62. julia says:

    i really inhaled your book, alison.. but i bought the german version because i live in vienna and logically, german is my mothertounge – normally when you read a translated book you always catch up the feeling, that because of the translation the heart of the story get’s lost.. but even in german, a very rude language, it has become quite sophistivated and lovely!!
    well i have to say, that “fun home” was my first art-comic book i’ve ever bought and read (my mother, who raised me strictly forbid comics in my life – “it’s ruining our language!! Go and read novels..” – thanks mum! i love you..) so i have nothing to compare it too, but i was positively surprised how great it was.. although i really needed to get used to look at your drawings and read at the same time 🙂 – but awesome work!!

    and i watched the german version of your interview – you are a very impressive person! 14 hours a day?? WOW…

    so greatings from austria,
    hugs jules