Kris Kovick, In Memoriam

September 11th, 2008 | Uncategorized

kovick sketch

Thanks to the couple of folks who reminded me that yesterday was not just my birthday, but the birthday of another lesbian cartoonist, the phenomenal Kris Kovick. She died of cancer in 2001, quite young. The above image is a random page from one of her sketchbooks. She gave me two of these when I visited her once, back in the nineties. She just handed them to me, these sketchbooks exploding with brilliant ideas and succulent drawings. It was hard to pick one page to scan because every one is a gem.

Soon after Kris died, I drew this little book about my friendship with her, for her memorial service. I’m trying to figure out how to display the story here, sequentially. But all I’ve been able to come up with is sticking the panels here, in vertical order.

If anyone can tell me an easy way to make them display in such a way that you can click “next,” and get the next panel, like a slideshow, let me know. (Hey! Cool! Here you can view the story like a clickable slide show, thanks to the generous coder NLC!)
Kovick 1

Kovick 2

Kovick 3

Kovick 4

Kovick 5

Kovick 6

Kovick 7

Kovick 8

Kovick 9

Kovick 10

57 Responses to “Kris Kovick, In Memoriam”

  1. charlie brown says:

    I remember: “What I Love About Lesbian Politics Is Arguing with People I Agree with” was one of the first lesbian books I bought from the now defunct grassroots bookshop in manchester. I was 17, smuggled it home and read it with wonder and amazement. Lovely tribute Alison.

  2. Feminista says:

    Thanks for a creative and thoughtful tribute to a sister cartoonist. Corporate nun,indeed!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a luscious, gorgeous tribute, Alison. Thank you.

  4. NickelJoey says:

    “A euphoric sensation of height, speed, and vast openness.” Gorgeous.

    For me, that articulates what so many of us are working toward and hoping for. How wonderful to capture it for a few moments.

    Thanks for posting this beautiful piece.

  5. Farah says:

    Thank you so much for this.

    I’ve had a rough summer and one consequence was that I hadn’t been in touch with two elderly friends I love a great deal–I just lacked the mental energy to make any call that wasn’t essential. After reading this, I was able to pick up the phone and call both of them, not just with effort, but actually *wanting* to do it.

  6. R says:

    I only heard about Kris after she had passed away, at least you were fortunate enough to know her.

  7. June says:

    What an awesome tribute. I love the openness of the end. Great cartoons so often end with a leap into space (not just Fun Home; also Rutu Modan’s Exit Wounds)?

    A long time ago I used Snap Gallery to build a slide show that you click through (with Previous and Next buttons). It seems it’s no longer supported, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work!

  8. June says:

    Oh, and Charlie Brown, how lovely to see Grassroots Bookshop invoked here. The first place I ever saw, pored over, and bought lesbian books. (And where once, when I exchanged “looks” with another lesbian, my mam asked, “Do you know her?”) A visit to Grassroots used to be the best part of the walk from Piccadilly train station to the Arndale bus station.

  9. Maxine says:

    Nice tribute. I love it when you give me someone or something else to go look up and learn more about, and that is often, sort of your own gift of self. Thanks Alison!

    And happy bday a day late to you, from me on mine.

  10. BDOC1992 says:

    this is beautiful, what away to celebrate two birthdays and two lives. you draw both of your personalities so well and it’s wonderful to see such a relationship from the “east coast” side. I’ve spent most of my life being true to the unnerving generosity of the free and open spirit you describe, much to the delight and discomfort of my northeast friends. I suppose not everyone who grows up with the breadth of the Pacific in view is like that, but as you drew her, she felt like home to me.

  11. Larry-bob says:

    Kris was really wonderful and you’ve really communicated her essence. I think of her and can hear her voice in my head reading one of her hilarious pieces of writing. There was a part of her memorial where all her ex-girlfriends got up in front at once. There is a short documentary about her called “What I Love About Dying” – info about it at

  12. Julia says:

    Ooh, Larry-bob, I did not know about that documentary. Thanks for the link!

  13. NLC says:

    I doubt it will let me do this, but I’m going to try…

  14. NLC says:

    Never mind. The input-processor ripped out all the interesting stuff…

  15. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Wowza! I gotta check this lady out. Thanks for the tip!

  16. The Cat Pimp says:

    I think we all have a friend like that in our lives. Its a Rule of Life. You know – someone who’s stimulating, interesting, strange, and scary in a no-hands-on-the-safety-bar kind of way.

  17. Alex K says:

    AB, I didn’t know that the door existed, and now you’ve opened it. Time to walk through it and to learn about this woman of whom you’ve shown me such a fascinating view.

  18. Aunt Soozie says:

    Thanks Alison.

  19. […] [Comics] Alison Bechdel remembers late cartoonist Kris Kovick. (Above: excerpt from the strip, ©2001 Alison Bechdel.) […]

  20. KarenE says:

    Alison, that was really special.
    And Happy Birthday!

  21. ocean c. says:

    i’m really glad that you put this up there. there’s a dearth of kris kovick info on the interweb. why, she’s not even in wikipedia! and she’s such an important part of our herstory.

  22. mlk says:

    thanks for introducing me to another person from lesbian herstory. someone so colorful, brave and generous is certainly a person I want to meet!

  23. Dr. Empirical says:

    Thanks, Alison. I’d never heard of Kris Kovick. I’ll have to become better aquainted.

  24. Ready2Agitate says:

    Wow what a drawing. Stripes on the skirt, briefcase, AND socks. Great texture across the blazer. And our corporate nun seems to have a receding hairline to boot. Anyone gander at what is drawn beside her to the right?

  25. Ready2Agitate says:

    (I mean, not “stripes,” but texture-striping.)

  26. Chris A. Bolton says:

    I recommend using Lightbox for a comic reader. It works much better than Flickr’s slideshow, for which you have to hit the pause button or the pictures will change themselves at a pre-set interval.

  27. Ginjoint says:

    I too will have to learn more about Ms. Kovick. Beautiful, whimsical, funny tribute.

    Motherfuck, cancer sucks.

  28. Suz says:

    That’s lovely, AB.

    And happy birthday, a day late.

  29. Thanks fer the Lightbox tip, Chris!

  30. Mija says:

    Ahhh, yes. I miss my dad’s 1972 Ford Ranger. You hit it right on the head with that last sentence, Alison. That year, they were still big. (Ford didn’t miniturize the Ranger until later.) When I needed to leave for college, he sold it and bought a car because he didn’t want me to show up at “that fancy school in Filthadelphia” in a hillbilly pick up. He really loved that truck and I still feel bad about it. I think that’s why I bought the Nissan Frontier in the almost identical obnoxious shade of green.

    Thanks for turning me on to the new writer! I’m gonna see what else I can find by her.

    And happy b-d, A-B.

  31. Susan D says:

    HA! Have to laugh! Us westerners are a great bunch of nuts.
    But the good times do roll, as I trip and roll down the hill!
    I wish I could have known Kris when I was living in SF. Why is it that the easterners are so introverted and closed off?
    I am sure I must have come off as a nut when we met Alison.
    But thanks for letting me shoot you. BTW, your publishing escort was too cute!

  32. Kate L says:

    Sorry to hear about this. 🙁 By coincidence, the campus art museum next door is having an exhibit of cartoonists. I’ll have to check it out to see who all is represented.

  33. Eva says:

    Ready2agitate: The drawing next to the figure is a knuckles out study of the hands grasping the briefcase. Nice and minimalist.

  34. Sara Moore says:

    Thanks for remembering Kris’ bday… Kris was more my gangster boyfriend than my girlfriend… and someone I miss terribly. I love your tribute to her. I scanned the original that you sent to the house after she passed and put it up on a tribute page that I started in 2002 but haven’t really developed… there are just a few things up here, including the “bicycle seat” cartoon that was on her memorial bulletin (if memory serves– I was a bit foggy that day):

  35. […] – Alison Bechdel pays homage to her late friend and fellow artist Kris Kovic. […]

  36. Jay says:

    Super. And nice to see a cartoon in a different style. For a second I wondered who’d drawn it – then I spotted ‘Anhedonic’ and thought ‘ah.’

  37. shadocat says:

    Umm, this is totally OT, and not to intrude on the conversation here, BUT…did anyone else see this last Sat?

    Just the best SNL sketch ever IMHO.

    (sorry, I just haven’t got the embed thing down yet)

  38. Ian says:

    Only AB would use the word “anhedonic” in a strip. By the way, isn’t “anhedonia” the official name for clinical depression?

    It’s been fascinating to learn a little bit about Kris Kovick, and read your fantastic cartoon about her. Everyone knows someone like her, and secretly envies them!

  39. Roz Warren says:

    Everybody should know about Kris. An amazing, talented and totally unique woman. She illustrated my book of funny quotes by women (GlibQuips) thus turning a rather subversive book into an incredibly subversive book. (The amazing Ellen Forney reminds me of Kris…) Working with her on that project was a total joy. And the great thing about being published by a small feminist press is that my publisher was THRILLED that the illustrations effortlessly challenged every societal norm you could possibly think of in new and inventive ways…

  40. Aunt Soozie says:

    Roz… give us a link to where we can purchase said book… unless it is out of print. : ( Ian.. anhedonia is an official symptom of depression… but the term that is currently in vogue is Major Depressive Disorder. Nothing exotic about it… sigh… I just can’t get excited about anything anymore… not even the names for disorders and the detailed diagnostic criteria… (just kidding)

  41. Dr. Empirical says:

    Irrelevant aside: People are referring to Sarah Palin as “The Moose.”

    It’s an insult to Mooses everywhere!

  42. Ian says:

    @Dr. Empirical: it’s impossible for me to think about mooses (is that the plural?) without immediately remembering the Swedish Chef making chocolate moose.

    Presumably if Sarah Palin’s a moose, it’d be ok to set her running, chase her in a helicopter, shoot her and hang her head on the wall?

  43. Ginjoint says:

    Ian, that was brilliant!

    And Shadocat, yeah, I’ve seen that, and I think it’s going to be a classic sketch for SNL. Fey absolutely nailed her (and so did Poehler).

  44. Juliet says:

    I can see Russia from my house!

  45. Noominal says: offers a free “slideshow” player that u can embed in a blog. It self plays, though, no clicking. It has also self-promotional “adornments” which detracts, however. Flickr also offers a “slideshow” of a set or photostream, but again, self-plays and self-promotes. Oh well, luckily you know some coders.

  46. Ian says:

    Thanks ginjoint! *blushes* I have my moments. Not very often, but I have them.

  47. Cheryl says:

    If you go to the Lock Haven Express website (www dot lockhaven dot) and search for “the world according to stan” to find an interesting article about an art profesor who may seem familar to readers of Fun Home.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I miss Kris so much, Allison. Your post has me in tears. I’m so glad you’re running the Maypole ragged, though, and I hope you had a swellegant birthday. I still want to get that shirt on your back.

  49. Pam says:

    On another note, my copy of State by State arrived yesterday.I did the quick read of Alison’s chapter for overview, and a more detailed read this morning. This is a truly wonderful portrait, which I was placing in memory next to the brief stays I have had in Vermont over the past few years. (My daughter is a junior at Green Mountain College in Poultney, and is looking forward to reading the chapter as well.)I was glad to see the independent stores in Montpelier; on my first run down the main drag of Rutland, it was as if I had never left home (Philadelphia) because of all the chain hotels and restaurants. The view of the mountains from Route 4, however, was breathtaking and had me thinking “This is what the earth looked like before we fucked it up.”

  50. Kate L says:

    On a very different note, I’ve been told that I resemble Sarah Palin. Great. 🙁 I’m REALLY going to butch it up between now and November 4th! Also, in Yahoo’s “Political Dashboard” today, Barak Obama would just reach 270 electoral votes (and election to the presidency) with a mere 7 more electoral votes. Two states with a combined total of just that many votes that are not included in this tally? Obama’s birth state of Hawaii, and a place called Vermont!:) I suspect Obama will carry both. Wouldn’t it be GREAT if progressive Vermont puts Obama in the White House? Here’s the link to Yahoo’s electoral map:

  51. Heather says:

    My respect for Pamela Anderson has now tripled; something I didn’t think possible. Telling Palin to “suck it.” LOL!

  52. Bay Area Artist says:

    Great work. Great story.

  53. Paul VanDeCarr says:

    Alison, thanks for the terrific strip on Kris! And hello other friends of Kris who’ve commented. I recorded several of Kris’s last shows for CDs, but have lost one of them in the interceding years. It’s “The Moshpit of Identity” — if anyone has it and can burn me a copy, please drop me a line to paullemonsf AT yahoo.

  54. Terry Sapp says:

    The last time I saw Kris was in the mid 90’s at the Writer’s Conference at the Women’s Building–we headed out and had a burrito together at Poncho Villa’s on 16th street and had one of those way too loud, long dialogues too raunchy to type here–she found out that I was living in the original SAMOIS house. She threw an arm over me and said “C’mon Baby Dyke…let’s go get stoned!” and laughed so hard when she saw the terrified look on my face. Kris was just plain brilliant. I moved back East in 97 and lost touch with most of my SF counterparts…I just recently learned of her passing when I gave my copy of her book to someone who was looking for it. Few people have ever made me laugh the way she did. Thank you Alison for a beautiful tribute to her–(and a “howthehellareya” while I’m at it to you and so many of the familiar names I see posted here.

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