my Entertainment Weekly piece

June 21st, 2008 | Uncategorized

Photo 264

Lookit! I have a four page story in the latest Entertainment Weekly. It’s for their 1000th issue, whose theme is “The New Classics.” The issue lists the 1000 best movies, tv shows, albums, books, and other cultural products of the last 25 years. My piece goes with the book section, and it’s about my experience of not being able to read books once someone tells me I have to. Umm..I don’t know if I’m allowed to put it online…it’s only in the print edition of the magazine. I realize this is annoying, to tell you about it if you can’t see it. But I’m just excited. And maybe you get the magazine anyway, so you can check it out. Or, you know, go buy it!
Photo 261

55 Responses to “my Entertainment Weekly piece”

  1. cybercita says:

    thanks for the heads up, alison, i’ll go buy it tomorrow.

    there was an interesting piece in this week’s time magazine about graphic novels.

  2. Nels says:

    It’s great! I was excited to get my issue Friday and see the graphic essay. And congrats that you are on the list of books. You deserve it!

  3. iara says:

    Can’t wait to see it! Thanks for the peekaboo picture, I’ll get it tomorrow too

  4. Aunt Soozie says:

    Me too…gonna go get tomorrow.
    Thanks for letting us know.

  5. Ian says:

    You mean you didn’t discuss the online rights to your commission? Lol.

    I’d really like to read it, but sadly we don’t get Entertainment Weekly in Britain.

  6. Alex K says:

    Prescriptive reading. Hmmm.

    You do realise that all your work is, for your blog-readers, on the MUST READ list? And that you’re our role model in approaches to culture, including the rejection of MUST READ lists? So that you’ve now placed us all in a cleft stick?

    In Corsica this week (although that doesn’t seem to show up on your visitor map), so I have even less chance than does Ian of finding a dead-tree copy of EW.

    Just imagine me furiously kicking at the white coarse sand and muttering – “Aucune lecture de plage bechdelienne! Quelle tease!”

  7. Deena in OR says:

    Ian…I’d be willing to mail it…not sure what the postal rate would be to GB, though. email me at

    momforrent2001 at yahoo dot com

    and we can work out details.

  8. Ian says:

    Postage? All the way from Oregon? Was it you who asked me about my track blog Deena btw? That’s really kind of you and I’ll definitely email you.

    By the way, that’s the real meaning of life you know – the random kindness of strangers.

  9. The Cat Pimp says:

    WOOT! Congrats, AB!

  10. Jesse says:

    I’ve never bought an issue of ‘Entertainment Weekly’ before but there’s a first time for everything. Congratulations, Alison. Looking forward to reading the piece.

  11. Eric says:

    I loved it. Congratulations! (I’m an EW subscriber anyway.)

    P.S. I think I still have a clipout of a piece you did 20 years or so about “questions gay men have always wanted to ask lesbians”. Hilarious.

  12. ksbel6 says:

    I can’t wait to get a copy…congrats AB!!

  13. julissa says:

    awesome! i’m so borrowing it from my college’s library and ripping the pages out… but then other ppl won’t get to read you… hmmmmm. maybe i’ll buy it, but i’m poor!! aaa. i’ll figure it out. congratulations!

  14. Liza Cowan says:

    The library must have a copy machine, no?

  15. Ann S. in Madison says:

    Julissa, listen to Liza. For the love of all that is holy, LISTEN! [uttered with love from a librarian]

  16. Megan in Brooklyn says:

    Another librarian here – please, Julissa! Make copies or buy the issue, otherwise no one else will be able to read AB’s contribution and the library will have a ruined issue or a magazine! 🙁

    I’m a EW subscriber, and flipped to this piece first off. I can so totally empathize with it, too. The curse of a librarian, indeed. Heh.

  17. d/f/ says:

    “questions gay men have always wanted to ask lesbians”!!!

    i wanna read *that*! can i find it anywhere?!

    esp. since it’s gotten a thumbs-up from the boys. ;>

  18. I forgot about that “questions gay men have always wanted to ask lesbians” piece! It was for the Advocate, about 60 years ago. I think it’s kind of embarrassing but I’ll see if I can dig it up and post it.

    I’ll definitely post the EW piece soon if I get the go-ahead. I should find out on Monday.

  19. Oh, and can I just say, the coloring on my EW story SUCKS! I didn’t really know what I was doing, and tried to cheat and everything got all balled up. On one page, everyone’s eyballs are filled with skin color. It’s kind of horrifying to have such flawed work out there but I’m trying to roll with it.

  20. jen in california says:

    I’ll admit to being a subscriber to EW. I have to get my cheesy updates on cheesy movies somehow. Plus I generally read it in the bathroom. When it came in the mail a few days ago I was shocked! Shocked I tell you. It was as though two of my secret worlds collided. Once I got over the shock it was incredibly cool to see Alison’s art in some sort of mainstream publication.

    To be honest AB, I was a bit afraid that you might dumb it down a bit for the masses. But you managed to avoid words like ‘liminal’ without dumbing it down. I liked the piece a lot, having spent a torpid and pale childhood myself obsessively reading and re-reading piles of books. Regarding the color palette, it didn’t excite me, but I wouldn’t say it was flawed. But then I’ve been told by many artists that color is a bitch and a harsh mistress, and what do I know anyhow, being limited to coloring inside the lines as my art medium.

    Suffice it to say that this issue of EW was promptly upgraded from bathroom reading to lying-on-couch-smothered-in-cats reading.

    I know we’ve all talked about the value of outsider culture here, and I agree that it definitely is a loss when it gets assimilated. But I also can’t help but feel some sort of triumph whenever I see mainstream culture infiltrated.

    For tons of reasons, I think the EW piece is great and say congrats.

    BTW, isn’t “questions gay men have always wanted to ask lesbian” in “The Indelible Alison Bechdel”? I’m sure I’ve read that piece and (speaking of mainstream vs outsider), I’ve never read the Advocate.

  21. michelle says:

    I’m a subscriber(I don’t think that’s an admission, it’s a smart magazine) but hadn’t seen the piece. I’m leaving the computer right now to go check it out.

  22. michelle says:

    Oh, that was great! My partner and I were just talking today about books that you haven’t read, but know from all the references and allusions in other books, art, etc, and how fraudulent that makes you feel.

  23. Tabitha says:

    I just pulled out my copy of “The Indelible Alison Bechdel” to re-read ‘Questions gay men have always wanted to ask lesbians’ and yep, that’s where I’d read it before, years ago.

  24. Lucía says:

    i had a dream with you! i had to leave a post here but the way to do it was writing what i wanted to say in a post-it that was in a window from a shop next to your glasses and those products for contact lenses!
    or something like that, i don´t remember very well…

  25. Donna says:

    jen in california Says:

    “I know we’ve all talked about the value of outsider culture here, and I agree that it definitely is a loss when it gets assimilated. But I also can’t help but feel some sort of triumph whenever I see mainstream culture infiltrated.”

    I agree, and it’s an unsettling and paradoxical feeling to have.

  26. Jen Mills says:


    I’m so glad someone else uses this word too, in certain snooty situations of course.

    And about the color AB, blame it on the publisher/printer. I do all of the time when my work is printed. Pretty handy.

    But I mean, hey, Entertainment Weekly!! Woooo hoooo!

  27. Ian says:

    I find it amazing that a mainstream pub approaches someone like AB to do a big piece like this. It means you get noticed so much more. I’ve sometimes wondered if AB could get some of that one-panel editorial cartoon action you see in broadsheets and magazines while she’s on hiatus from DTWO4.

    When I see someone good and ‘outside’ get some recognition, my reaction is usually “well, duh! Finally! What took you so long?” There is that dizzy “when worlds collide” feeling though. Like when a relative you’re not out to suddenly starts talking about gay issues.

  28. Donna says:

    michelle Says:

    “Oh, that was great! My partner and I were just talking today about books that you haven’t read, but know from all the references and allusions in other books, art, etc, and how fraudulent that makes you feel.”

    Wow. For 75% of that type of thing, I just make sure I do some general research on the whatever was being alluded to. I never felt like a fraud. You and your partner are purists! Or I am a fraud. One or the other.
    Anyway, the problem is, even if it was a book, poem, play, etc., that I studied in school or on my own, I usually need to refresh my memory anyway.

  29. Donna says:

    Ian Says:
    “I find it amazing that a mainstream pub approaches someone like AB to do a big piece like this.”

    Maybe she is not such an outsider. Plus, there’s probably a lot of people working at the magazine who’ve known her work for years, indeed have grown up with her work, and have come to a point in their own careers when they have some say as to what gets printed up in the magazine. I have no idea how the magazine biz works, so I’m just guessing.

  30. ladiesbane says:

    Alison, that’s you on the cover right? Front page center, with the wand? (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Now that they are portraying Harry as cute and mod-ren, you look more like Harry than Radcliffe does.)

    Mais certes: felicitations, cherie! More of the world sees your brilliance. You always have our hearts.

  31. sillipitti says:

    Hey, this is a bit off topic, but I just went with my son (who is also a huge fan of AB) to see an exibhit at the Vancouver Art Gallery called KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video games + Art. The Graphic Novels section was curated by Art Spiegelman and not only was Fun Home there in the main sequence but also had it’s own little suite in the corner of the gallery–very cool. Some very nice original drawings and inks as well as the photos showing Alison’s obsession (yes, I think that’s a fair word) with reproducing things *exactly* as they were. Since we never get to see Alison in the flesh up here in this neck of the woods, it was nice to have some holy relics on display.

  32. shadocat says:

    Looking forward to Monday…but hey, I’ll probably still buy it anyway…

  33. sillipitti says:

    Whoa! Now I’ve gone back and read through this post and I’m thinking: First comes your admission concerning Sex and the City and now Entertainment Weekly. What next? Your own reality TV show? I can’t take the pace of this!

  34. julissa says:

    haha. i promise i will not rip the pages out. I will photocopy. no worries!

  35. Anjali says:

    holy cow! that is absolutely freaking exciting. i’ve been throwing your name all over my page for some time.

  36. ready2agitate says:

    Woot! Woot! for Bragg’s liquid aminos! 🙂 (can’t believe no one’s mentioned this, not to mention the delicious bowl of greens, the melty – one assumes beeswax – candles, and other curios of Alison’s kitchen table). But seriously, as a friend says, what’s veggies without some ‘salty water’? OK I’m not good at being a fangirl, I guess!

  37. --MC says:

    I might .. just .. have to break my vow never to read or purchase “Entertainment Weekly” to get this strip.

  38. marysdresswaves says:

    Just buy the EW. It’s truly a great issue. Besides, we get Alison and Jodie Foster in the same issue. How can you beat that? It’s great fun to see the best of the last 25 years, which coincidentally is about the same time I started watching real movies, buying albums, etc.

    loved the article. thanks.

  39. HobokenMartha says:

    It is a great issue…and I love the forbidden element to your reading.

  40. sk in london says:

    i have a feeling that might be Holly’s table – why? uh, i think the packet of seeds is a clue, and the flower in its holder ….. but hey, i could be and am happy to be completely wrong with my presumptions….

    great to hear of the piece…..hoping to find a copy of EW here in london town in the coming weeks when it might arrive in some central london newsagent that has international magazines that i might happen to walk past and remember to check out…

  41. Holly says:

    Good eye, sk in london, you win the Nancy Drew award! Not that Alison wouldn’t have spinach seeds and a speckled swan gourd on her dinner table.

  42. I probably wouldn’t have Bragg’s Amino Acids on my table though.

  43. The Entertainment Weekly editor is on vacation till next week, so I haven’t heard back from him about whether it’s okay for me to put the piece online. I think it’ll probably be okay once the issue is off the newsstands, which should be later this week.

  44. Ellen O. says:

    The current issue of Entertainment Weekly hasn’t hit the stores here in Boulder. I’ve never felt so provincial! I prowled three giant supermarkets, one magazine store, and the library in pursuit of it. They all said to check again tomorrow. Which I will do.

  45. Seymour says:

    Carefully places signed copy of ‘Fun Home’ into protective plastic “comiception” bag. Licks lips, and waits…

  46. d/f/ says:

    i guess i’ll have to find me a copy of ‘indelible’. i believe i bought it from dog eared books in sf a few years ago, but not only do i not remember the ‘gay men’ piece, but i don’t know ‘idelible’ thoroughly, as i do all the other dtwof books eagerly ferreted out from dog-eared’s dear, crowded shelves when it was part of my walk home.


    i’m looking forward to hunting it down… and seeing if it still holds true, or if there’s been a cultural shift…

    … so we’re getting to the point we not only know all sorts of quirky things ’bout the beloved AB, but can infer her presence from contextual visual clues… damn.

    this is such a strange medium, intimate and distant at once.

    ladiesbane, i love your take on the outsider to mainstream exposure phenom. an attitude to aspire to. i think.

    being a member of different ‘outsider’ groups, though, i’d say that sometimes, the more mockery experience, and resultant / resistant pride developed in the outside / borderlands, the more mainstream exposure comes as a shock to the system. sometimes i just don’t like it, or feel very protective of my ‘other’ world.

    that’s not the case in this instance, though, or only minimally. since it’s been happening for awhile, maybe. and, in fact, there’s a kind of pride in the sharing of that brilliance. like telling the world, “See?!!”

  47. andrewo says:

    it’s the best thing in the magazine! But now I’m afraid to recommend one of my favorite writers, Diana Wynne Jones, to you.

  48. sk in london says:

    That’s Mental! The Nancy Drew award for me?
    Thanks Holly :-))

  49. Ellen O. says:

    I like the word liminal, with its suggestions of threshhold and transition. Why do people find it snooty?

  50. mwphilly says:

    Wow, what a bunch of scathing reviews on that message board! I for one think the art in DTWOF (and, consequently, in Fun Home and this feature) is great! I don’t think there can be any one standard of comic art, or else all strips would look the same! When I’m scanning down the comics page in the paper, I identify each strip by its drawing style. I love the look of AB’s work!

  51. shadocat says:

    funny how the word lesbian seems to find its way into those negative critiques…

    like to see THEIR latest graphic novels

  52. cybercita says:

    some random thoughts about that piece {which had me spewing iced latte out of my nose this afternoon}

    i read harriet the spy about a zillion times. did you read the sequel, the long secret?

    too bad about e. nesbit — the enchanted castle was one of my favorites.

    one of the major characters in the corrections {which i adored} is a lesbian, if that gives you any further incentive to read it.

    just last night i looked at my unused copy of “beloved” and finally admitted that it was never gonna happen. it went into the free box. i read “sula” when i was traveling alone in europe for eight months and was desperate for anything i could find in english. {however, my desperation did not extend to henry james, who remains eternally unread by me despite accompanying me on a very long train ride through former yugoslavia. i stared out the window the entire time, utterly defeated.}

    one of my friends, an african american woman and a librarian to boot, absolutely refuses to read the color purple because she is so tired of people telling her she has to read it. this has been going on since the early 80’s.

    i still feel sort of guilty because i have passed the half century mark but have not read anna karennina or any charles dickens. nick hornby has pointed out that the world will still turn on its axis even if i don’t, but i’m afraid i’ll be found out.

  53. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ah yes, The Comics Journal: The comics magazine for people who hate comics!

  54. iara says:

    I MADE some people read this piece, including my daughter! I was hoping they would resist, just because that adds more to the experience (they did not resist enough…).
    But it is funny how, even though I have, like, totally been there, I still want to send you MY list of books – I know it will be different IN MY CASE and you will love them!