On re-runs

August 15th, 2012 | Uncategorized

Photo on 8-15-12 at 12.54 PM #3
How melancholy I would feel as a child when I sat down to watch The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family, only to discover that the episode was a re-run. All hope and optimism drained out of me. Life suddenly seemed a stale, if not futile, proposition.

Of course I would watch the re-run anyway, and soon get caught up in the story all over again.

Yesterday I received the latest issue of Lesbian Connection in the mail. For some time now they have been reprinting old episodes of Dykes To Watch Out For. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m touched that they think the cartoons are still interesting. But mostly I feel mortified by these outdated and irrelevant strips seeing the light of day.

The episode in the latest issue is from 1989. It’s about Sparrow’s self-righteous friend Milkweed coming off the lesbian farm for a visit.


But just as I was rolling my eyes about this, Hol started reading me a letter on the preceding page of LC—a screed about the “animal industrial complex” by someone who lives on a queer vegan animal sanctuary in Southern Vermont.


Milkweed lives! I feel a flicker of hope.

49 Responses to “On re-runs”

  1. NLC says:

    I so like that face above (and hereby resolve to do whatever is necessary to guarantee that I will never be its intended target).

    Also, I wanted to thank you for the “Alison Bechdel: By the Book” interview mentioned in the previous set of comments.

    A while back a VNP [Very Nice Person] gave me a gift certificate to Powell’s, so after reading the interview I rushed right out and ordered “State of Wonder” as well as both the David Carkeet books.

  2. Glenn says:

    Every few years, I treat myself to a re-reading of my complete collection of Dykes to Watch Out For books in chronological order. Every time, it’s fascinating and involving. When you have great characters, art, storytelling, and wit, it doesn’t matter if the setting or the issues are outdated. But in fact, I find that the political discussions in the old strips are (unfortunately) perfectly relevant to today.

  3. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    And it’s good to see the old crew again. I imagine that they are still living out their lives, only we just can’t see them. Raffi would be 20!

  4. Kate L says:

    I like to think that there’s a little bit of the DTWOF gang in all of us. Personally, I’ve got more than a full share of Mo! 🙂

    “They’re not really gone if we remember them.” – paraphrase of Dr. McCoy’s comment on the death of Spock, in The Search For Spock.

  5. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I am DYING to find out how Raffi is doing! I remain convinced that he joined the Marines, but further than that deponent sayeth not.

  6. Kate L says:

    A.B. still has that geologic map of Pennsylvania and Jersey up on the wall. Yea!!!!!

  7. A in B says:

    Please don’t feel mortified! For all of us who feel that your characters are like old friends, it’s awesome to spend time with them again, even if it’s rehashing old ground. And it’s true that when the dialogue is as intelligent and fun as that of your characters, it’s fun to listen in even if it’s banter I’ve heard before. Although… if you wanted to start drawing the strip again, so LC wouldn’t have to run old material, that would be fine. 🙂 You’d make many many people very happy (and grateful and excited)! (no pressure, I understand why you decided to stop)

  8. j.b.t. says:

    I miss DTWOF, so seeing the old strips is always welcome!

    I actually still hold out hope that someday we’ll get some new news from our old pals…


  9. Suzanonymous says:

    This blog post was poetically yet warmly amusing — wonderful. On top of it, I don’t remember ever seeing this strip snippets before and I like them.

    I’m sure part of it is how long it’s been since your last post. Miss the blog posts.

  10. Diamond says:

    I’m afraid I had not realised that Lesbian Connection lives, let alone Milkweed . . .

  11. Brigham says:

    Don’t believe it for a second, AB! You have provided the most pithy and insightful documentationn of feminist, LGBT, and progressive activist-intellectual culture and daily life from Reagan through Bush II. It was an important time, and it’s in danger of being erased.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on your Freeps article! 4 pages!


    Today I need to order “Are you my Mother?” and CB’s “The Sandcastle Girls.”

  13. Calico says:

    Congratulations on today’s Freeps article Alison! 4 pages!
    I really must order “Are you my Mother?” and CB’s “The Sandcastle Girls” today.

  14. Calico says:

    Sorry for the double post. Damn PC.

  15. Marshalldoc says:

    DTWOF is classic and I’d love to see it come back.

  16. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I love seeing Milkweed’s shirt and the simple way you drew the grid. These days you would show every twist and bend as the graphic fabric stretched over Milkweed’s bod.

  17. Fi says:

    I remember when, as I began to spend more occasions with my GF’s large family (six sibs and multiple cousins, nieces & nephews) – wondering, don’t they ever tire of telling the same family stories and jokes? Eventually I figured out the repetition was the whole, virtuous, point. The glue, binding them (and in some stories, me too) together. Just like DTWOF is one of the big ol’ pots of glue, binding us together. What’s not to love about that?!!

  18. Kate L says:

    I’m glad that there’s a newsletter called the Lesbian Connection! In fact, this would probably be the ideal place to advertise the next International Dyke Conference!

  19. Lena says:

    @Kate L: Dyke swarms? I love it. Do you get to go?

  20. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L, Lena

    Dyke swarms… the lesbian equivalent of flash mobs? “Dyke swarms and planetary bodies” must be referring to the heavenly bodies of dykes in the flash mobs. Oh, and what heavenly bodies they are!

    “Petrology, geochemistry and petrogenesis of dykes” must be the stone butch dykes. “Geochronology of dykes” must be about the chrones.

    I’m afraid to ask what “Synplutonic mafic dykes” are. It sounds like a title of one of Sydney’s queer theory articles.

    “Dykes as plumbing system for Large Igneous Provinces” … oh nevermind. Where’s Maggie when we need her? We could drive this thread right into the gutter with that one.

    (… goes back to looking for “Igneous Formations to Watch Out For” …)

  21. Kate L says:

    Lena (#20), hairball (#21) I didn’t get to go to the International Dyke Conference. I did attend a world stratigraphy conference that happened to meet at the University of Kansas one year, but it just wasn’t the same. I do want to join the International Dyke Association, though. I want that membership card!

  22. Feminista says:

    I remember the above strips,and applauded Sparrow finally putting her foot down and booting out Milkweed,who criticized Sparrow’s attending therapy groups.

    The self-righteous still live,unfortunately,even in our progressive enclaves. I have a few stories I can tell….

  23. shadocat says:

    Alison—I remember reserecting Milkweed for a piece I wrote for the “Daily Distress”—wish I could find it now; I’ll look around and if I do I’ll post a link. Milkweed was running a B&B, and Sparrow and family had just visited…

    Hawaii was wonderful and the wedding was beautiful! I took pictures the “old fashioned” way (accidently left the camera at the airport, used disposables) but as soon as I get things figured out, I’ll post the pictures. Mahalo!

  24. shadocat says:

    OK, here goes;daughter Robin is the blonde, daughter-in-law Jennifer is the brunette.
    C:\Users\Client\Pictures\wedding day.jpg

  25. shadocat says:

    Yikes! Not the way I wanted it-must practice for awhile. Sorry.

  26. Kellyann says:

    The Milkweed story line is one of my favorites. I love Sparrow’s fierceness.

  27. Mishyana says:

    But but but there really is an animal-industrial complex and it really is awful…

    That said, old DTWOF is awesome. New DTWOF would be awesome-er. Just uh, throwing that out there. =)

  28. ready2agitate says:

    Where DOES 20 years go?! I remember those days like it was yesterday….

  29. Alex K says:

    This week’s number of THE SPECTATOR carries a respectful review of RUMM.

  30. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Shadocat, Mentor told me a neat way to post a picture. Open an account on Flickr and post the link to the picture you want to share. Opening the account on FLickr is tres easy. Would love to see pictures of your lovely wedding!

  31. Kathy says:

    An magazine who’s politics got stuck in the 80s runs strips from the 80s. There’s a new 21st century strip in there if someone wants to draw it!

  32. Red says:

    I didn’t come out until the early 2000s, so I missed all of the 80s and 90s lesbian culture that DTWOF documents (like the Milkweed strip!). but this summer I went to Michfest for the first time, and, among other seriously deep lez experiences, I was asked by a vegetarian to please stop talking about meat while we were on the shuttle together, because it offended her. I feel like I just got the final square in lesbian bingo!

  33. shadocat says:

    Therry; Thanks for the tip. I’ll do that!

  34. Calico says:

    #33 – Welcome to the early 90’s redux. Jeez.
    I can’t stand that kind of self-righteousness at all, and I’ll bet you a dime to a cheeseburger that’s not the only thing that got stuck in her craw.

  35. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Red, Calico

    Ah, the self-righteous among us. I’m sure we all have tales to tell. We could fill books with our tales, but AB beat us to it.

    Sort of on that same theme, I just finished reading Harvey Pekar’s posthumous memoir, Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me. So many of the incidents he described resonated with me. I especially related to his wife Joyce’s epilogue, describing Harvey’s mother’s funeral and his own. All so true, I hadn’t realized how many of us had similar experiences and reactions to the Jewish funeral industrial complex.

    (… goes back to recuperating from another week in the cube farm …)

  36. hairball_of_hope says:

    @R2A (#29)

    Where did the 20 years go? You’ll be asking yourself the exact same question in about 20 years, when the little agitator graduates from university. Of course, when the terrible twos hit, and every other word out of his mouth is either “No” or “Why?” you’ll be hoping those 20 years speed up.

    BTW, I was up in Boston area a few weeks ago, and I was thinking of you. I can’t figure out how anyone who keeps kosher dines out, unless s/he eats in the supermarket aisles. Practically non-existent options, even in Brookline, nada in Cambridge/Sommerville area.

    My traveling partner for that trip is on the über-observant side of things, and yes, it was supermarket dining in the hotel room for us. Bleah.

    (… goes back to munching on granola bars …)

  37. Andrew B says:

    My strongest memory of “Milkweed” was of the time I ran into her at the grocery store and she asked me if I was still eating ground up cow cadavers. “Sure am!” I told her. The thing about this particular Milkweed was that she didn’t even like messy, irrational animals. Her stance was pure principle, or pure self-righteousness — you decide.

    Mishyana, 28, when Alison says she felt a flicker of hope, I don’t think she just meant that her old strips aren’t completely irrelevant. I think — obviously just my interpretation — that she also meant it gives her hope to know there are still women out there taking these positions. After all, Mo, who is pretty much Alison’s avatar, can be Milkweed-esque. (Note the optimistic use of the present tense.) Also, a quick googling suggests that the concept of the animal industrial complex came out of ecofeminism, and Alison certainly was sympathetic to ecofeminism when she created Fun Home. (See chapter 4, especially pages 112-113.)

    It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between the person who takes a truly meaningful radical position and the person who just engages in self-righteous posturing. When they first speak up, they both sound nutty because their views are so far outside the norm. It takes a while to sort out who was really saying something important and who was just blowing her own horn. It may not be possible to have serious radicals without also having some Milkweeds. From that perspective, it’s good to have some Milkweeds. It means that radical questioning is still possible. So, Mishyana, keep hitting us over the head with the animal industrial complex if that’s what looks right to you. You could turn out to be right. Not that I’m promising to agree with you, of course.

    Ok, last paragraph of an overlong comment. NLC, 1, you’re right, it’s a great face. When I first saw this post, I felt like I’d seen it before. I was right. See page 50 of The Indelible, top left panel. Not exactly the same but recognizably the same person.

  38. Kate L says:

    Off topic, but topical. There is still a late 60’s federal U.S. law on the books that says one of the first things an American citizen must do upon setting foot on another planet is to put up an American flag. This law was hastily enacted in the weeks before the launch of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission. Neil Armstrong, the commander, had been considering the possibility of putting up a United Nations flag in order to emphasize that this American space mission was representing all of humanity. Indeed, there is even an international treaty in which signatory nations (including the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.) promised not to annex the moon or planets. All the U.S. flags, Russian emblems, etc., that have been part of various space missions over the years are just for show. Ironically, recent photographs of the Apollo landing sites by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show that the U.S. flag at the Apollo 11 site was blown away during the astronaut’s return to lunar orbit (as was reported at the time by lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin), while the U.S. flags at most of the other Apollo landing sites are still there. Many other nations are currently planning a return of humans to the moon. NASA has asked that they consider Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 (the first and last Apollo landing sites) as archeological sites to be preserved, but that the other four Apollo landing sites are available for further on-site exploration.

    Btw… the second flag on the moon was almost the Swiss flag. One of the Apollo 11 experiments set up by the astronauts was designed by Swiss scientists. It consisted of a sheet of aluminum foil that was unfurled like a window blind to catch particles from the sun. The scientists toyed with the idea of colorizing the aluminum to look like the Swiss flag (it would not have interferred with the experiment), but decided not to.

  39. Alex K says:

    @33 / Red — I heart your comment.

  40. Acilius says:

    @Kathy #32: I’m trying to think of just what a person would be missing whose politics were stuck in the radical feminism of the 80s. Not much comes to mind, frankly.

  41. Calico says:

    Hi HoH! Sorry about the cubicle stuff. : (
    In your gentle wisdom you have helped me realize that I am being somewhat self-righteous in my anti-self-righteous mini-rant. So, thanks!
    If I can just learn a little more every day …
    : )

    (I love Meta-stuff)

  42. Mishyana says:

    @Andrew #32 Yeah, I know =) I was more trying to be a smartass than be like “RAR these things must be constantly and forever railed against and at everyone!” There are some very serious issues with modern agriculture and how our food, both meat and non-, is produced, but some self-righteous knob-head coming at people in stores like what you experienced is about as effective as non-smokers fake-coughing at smokers in public.

  43. Matilda says:

    I just read that YOU will be the inspiration for next years poster for Gothenburg International Film Festival: http://www.giff.se/us/public/article/chash/a7878d416d6239e32f5813aff77b978c/post/liv-strmquist-is-the-next-festival-artist-977.html
    Liv (the artist) is a great cartoonist. Greetings from Sweden.

  44. Suzanonymous says:

    Food, Inc. is a movie that will convince you there is a problem with the food manufacture and marketing system. And a big big horrifying element of this is in the meat industry. Very good documentary. (And my most recent Occupy movement cartoon is about this, see website above, please.)

  45. Acilius says:

    Love those comics, Suzanonymous! I’ll definitely be checking in.

  46. Caroline says:

    I LOVE those strips. They still seem to ring true with the people I meet despite the changing hair styles.

  47. ina says:

    Alison (hi!), I remember you speaking at the Vancouver Gay Games (1990?) & telling how you were approached by a woman who was upset you’d based Milkweed on her, and you HADN’T! You’d just been experimenting with a character nobody liked!