on the road

November 10th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Erika, Dylan, Katie
Here I am at Wordstock in Portland yesterday talking to the awesome young cartoonists Erika Moen, on the left, and Dylan Meconis, in the middle, and Dylan’s gf Katie. Portland is such a hotbed of comics and also of queerness, it was quite overwhelming.

So I’m out on this book tour and I’ve been going so flat out I haven’t even been able to update where I’m going to be. It’s hard to blog and live at the same time. It’s hard to write and live, or to read and live, for that matter. As someone engaged in writing about my life, I think about this problem a lot. I just started reading Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights (at the suggestion of our friend June). Well actually, I haven’t started it yet. I’m still on the introduction. But I’m liking Geoffrey O’Brien’s introduction a lot. Here’s a short passage:

Sleepless Nights might be taken as an exploration of the problem of genre, the problem of distinguishing fiction from what is so coarsely described as “nonfiction,” except that the book is more like a demonstration that the problem is illusory.

A little further on he describes writing as “part of life, but not of it.” I think that’s very nicely put.


Here’s a little movie by this woman Elizabeth of me and Kathy Belge, aka Dipstick, talking to each other at Wordstock in Portland yesterday. Over a large cow.

Here’s a nice little piece on AfterEllen about The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. It’s accompanied by what is perhaps not the worst picture of myself I’ve ever seen, but a close runner-up.

Spain & Alison

Here’s a picture of me and Spain, and Doug Wolk, at Wordstock on a panel called “Comics and Politics.” It was not the worst panel I’ve ever been on, but again, perhaps a runner up. We just didn’t have any chemistry. Spain and Patrick Rosenkrantz, the other panelist, did a lot of reminiscing about the sixties. And my bad, I’ve never really read a lot of Spain’s stuff, (although I do remember an annoyingly lesbophobic one he did for Young Lust back in the eighties) so we didn’t have a lot of common ground. I shoulda brought up the Young Lust cartoon, maybe we could’ve had it out. But I hate conflict.

I don’t have any pictures of me talking with Lynda Barry onstage Saturday night, but I think it’ll be on the radio! I’ll keep you posted. She was brilliant and funny and kind and I managed to string a few sentences together.

I find all this performing and panel-giving quite wearing. It’s just not my metier. I function much better alone in a room. Writing. And indeed, now that I’ve sat alone in my hotel room for a couple hours writing about all this living I’ve been doing, I feel much better.

55 Responses to “on the road”

  1. Sarah says:

    I couldn’t make it to either of your Wordstock panels, unfortunately, but I enjoyed seeing you at LiveWire! I’m glad you’ve found some time alone to recharge, I know I would find all that face time overwhelming as well.

    I hope you get to spend more time in Portland in the future. 🙂

  2. mary(an) the librarian says:

    see you tonight at booksmith! also, the picture on their website: http://www.booksmith.com/, more than makes up for the one you don’t like on afterellen. though, i don’t think that’s nearly as bad as you think.

    hope you enjoy your visit to the bay area!

  3. Danyell says:

    OMG, I love Erika Moen!

  4. Case says:

    I’m one of those readers that never posts on your blog, so this is my first….
    I’m glad to hear your thoughts on the Comics & Politics panel, as i totally got a homophobic/ass vibe from those guys, and couldn’t understand what the hell they were talking about half of the time. But you were awesome, and I really enjoyed when you had the stage to yourself the next day. Happy travels!

  5. Twofer says:

    Alison’s panel buddies seemed to be more out of touch with today’s world than they were homophobic.

  6. Feminista says:

    I went to Wordstock for Teachers on Friday,which was fun but exhausting–the conference was fast-paced,and we wrote a lot.
    It was nice to see you stroll on stage with Lynda Barry at Live Wire! **The show will air on Nov.29 on Oregon Public Broadcasting,91.5 FM.**

  7. Sarah says:

    And for those of you who don’t live in Portland, it will be available as a podcast on http://www.livewireradio.org and on iTunes.

  8. cybercita says:

    i’m really looking forward to seeing you at bums ignoble in nyc next monday!

  9. Boyles says:

    Random plug! Lovers of comics and books and book-nerdiness should check out Matt Reidsma’s History of the Library Card Catalog. Don’t know how to be all fancy and have you click on the topic but the link is here:


    Matt draws the very cool “High Maintenance Machine.” Sadly the card catalog history is not in comic form – maybe one day…

  10. sillipitti says:

    So near and yet so far! When Vancouver?

    It may have been a bad panel, but that’s a great picture!

  11. blushing girl says:

    Is there a rule that says all the young lesbians in Portland have to wear shades of olive drab? Is this the new cartoonist uniform? What ever happened to the painfully ironic t-shirt?

  12. Heidi Jean says:

    hello….i was at Wordstock on Sunday, and listened to you talk. You inspire me! I am drawing a comic of my life right now….and i was wondering if i could send you a digital copy through e-mail if that’s okay? I need some help…and a few tips….My E-mail is Artist_Heidi.Jean@hotmail.com….if you Don’t mind, Go ahead and E-mail me if you’d be willing to see my comic and possibly give me tips and such. It would be much appreciated!! Thanks!!

  13. vj says:

    It was painful watching you on the Comics & Politics panel, just because of Patrick and Spain’s complete lack of awareness of present day, as well as that they came off as assholes rather than the cool dudes that they were trying to be. But I loved seeing you in person, even in such a painful instance. And it made seeing you on Sunday so much sweeter. Thanks again for coming to Portland. I got to see the end of Lynda’s talk too — she was pretty great. Wish I could have been at Live Wire, but it just wasn’t to be.

    Hope you get some more downtime on the rest of the tour.

  14. Hey, VJ. I don’t think they were assholes at all, it was just a kinda bad matchup. They were doing the kind of thing that people love at Comics conventions, telling tales about the old days, and everything. I think it was this funny collision between old and new comics, really, and we didn’t know quite what to do with one another.

  15. ksbel6 says:

    Ginjoint: the puppy is a new dog. He stills needs major encouragement to come in the house (which is getting better as the weather gets worse) but he will sit and watch tv with us now. He used to just sprint into the room, look at us, and then sprint back to his bed. Now he will actually curl up on a chair 🙂 It really is amazing considering that 6 months ago I was walking him into the yard because he didn’t want to touch the grass.

  16. judybusy says:

    Hang in there Alison–I can’t imagine how draining all this is for your introverted soul!

    Also, thanks to the folks who let me know Studs had died the week before the election. The dangers of electronic news, quickly skimmed and commented on too quickly!

  17. Jesse N says:

    Is it too obsessive of me to go to the Cambridge reading and the Northampton reading?

  18. Heidi says:

    I checked out Erika’s and Dylan’s comics, and they have some great stuff. Follow the links, y’all.

  19. bingo says:

    I really wanted to ask you SOMETHING in the QnA after your slideshow at Wordstock, Alison, but couldn’t think of a thing other than … “I’ve been reading since the early nineties and have stayed deeply in love for all that time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve never felt left out of Mo’s world – even though West Coast Chicanas are not part of it, the characters are so specific and so fully human I’ve felt like all of them at one time or another. I miss the strip more than words can say but I can’t wait for the work that is yet to come.” Loved the trip down memory lane with the characters and especially loved your metaphor of the deep-sea dive, getting pressurized slowly, slowly, and winding up in a new place. Good luck on the rest of the tour. Portland loves you!

  20. Donna says:

    That sounds like a very interesting metaphor! Wish I would have heard that. Or attended Wordstock. Living in Portland must be the bestest.

  21. Donna says:

    That sounds like a very interesting metaphor! Wish I would have heard that. Or attended Wordstock. Living in Portland must be the bestest.

  22. ak ballard says:

    Any chance of you coming to Seattle in the future? We’ve been skipped on your last few tours 🙁 (and we’re awesome, really!)

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Alison – thanks for our posting video! That was so much fun, thanks for letting me do that. You have inspired me…

    Elizabeth aka “blackstonefinn”

  24. setya says:

    It was great to hear you speak at Wordstock. I thought the panel was good, and I agree with you, just a mismatch. I would have loved to hear more on Sunday but life gets busy here in PDX!

  25. Kate says:

    thanks very much for coming to Portland! I missed the LiveWire thing at the theater just down the street no less, then was reading the Sunday paper around noon and realized I was almost going to miss Wordstock the Sunday (AB) appearance but made it! And was very inspired, thank you for coming to Portland! Please move here if you get tired of too cold winters (not sure why, actually, I say this sitting here in the eternal twilight in yet another rainstorm.) And reading a slightly old Willamette Week today I was pleased to see that there are other Harriet the Spy stalwarts out there, I still have my original(cherished)hard cover copy. My daughter (9) refuses to read it, but she does love Archie comics (Is that OK?) And she writes a comic called Super Cats.
    Take it easy after your tour ends(does it end?) best, Kate OC ’79 (PS I wonder if this will work? Never sent anything in/on/to a blog before. PPS No we do not all wear olive drab Tshirts here.

  26. Kate L says:

    I may not have attended the get together in Portland, but I finally got over to the alternative comics exhibit at the local art museum. Wow! It’s like a whole world of counterculture funnies! 🙂 Oh, and I also finally got to see Rachel Maddow (on the Colbert Report, not on MSNBC which I still can’t get on my cable system for some strange reason). Wow! again! That young woman is cute as a button and right smart, as we say in these parts!

  27. Ready2Agitate says:

    omg Erika Moen is awesome – so fun to check out her stuff!

  28. Ellen O. says:

    Dan Savage, whose writings I find to be a mixed lot, has an excellent piece in the New York Times today.

    Here is the Times’ summary: “… proposed Arkansas law that bans people who are “cohabitating outside a valid marriage” from serving as foster parents or adopting children are terrifying.”


  29. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Very serious shit, Ellen O., and very scary. Lisa Duggan and the rest of the Beyond Marriage crew (www.beyondmarriage.org) warned about this- the conservative movement to ban gay marriage is not restricted to gay couples or families, but rather is aimed at breaking up ALL “non-traditional” households for the sake of promoting marital, reproductive ones. I just hope straight folk start waking up to the ways these laws affect them, too, because, well, the majority of people in the United States don’t live in “traditional” households anymore.
    I was actually sadder about the ban in Arizona than I was about Prop. 8, because just two years ago they had done such a brilliant job in defeating a similar ban, by emphasizing how the proposed law would disenfranchise cohabitating seniors, single parents, and their children. It was such a smart, amazing feat of political maneuvering, and to see that all wiped away is very disheartening.

  30. mary(an) the librarian says:

    rally at your city hall this weekend!

    saturday, 11/15, 10:30 a.m. (PST)/1:30 p.m. (EST)
    list of gatherings across the country: http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/?t=anon

    this past tuesday, balanced by obama’s stunning victory was an equally stunning and infuriating vote for state-sanctioned discrimination. in california, same-sex couples lost their right to marriage. in arkansas, non-married couples (whether gay or straight) lost their right to adopt and foster children. and in florida and arizona, the constitution was amended to preclude same-sex couples from ever marrying.

    they will come to your state, to your town and tell you how you can live your life. we cannot allow fundamentalists to define the american way. the time to sit idly by and watch the march towards civil rights trudge slowly on as passed. it is time to stand up, to fight and to let our voices be heard.

  31. Aunt Soozie says:


  32. The Cat Pimp says:

    I’d say Jesse was lucky. I have that pesky day job, else I’d have gone to the 4PM Berkeley event.

  33. Ellen O. says:

    Jesse —

    Go for it! Contrast and compare (and send us the details).

  34. Aunt Soozie says:

    yep… no appearances close enough for me to make it this time…
    NY,NY isn’t so far but… I gotta work at night… bummer.

  35. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m gonna be in New York this weekend, but no way can I stay through Monday.

    And Damn… all these mentions of Northampton are making me nostalgic. I first discovered DTWOF in the Valley Advocate. I love that town, and haven’t been there since around ’94.

  36. Susanna says:

    Awww you are just coolest, and look at those adorable mini-Mo’s at your table!

    I’m a gay mama with my own blog… I would be so so honored if you payed me a visit.



  37. Maria says:

    Your visit at UCB was really cool. It was awesome to meet you!

  38. Aunt Soozie says:

    Dr E…
    hmmm…. now you’re pining for Northampton?
    are you sure you’re not a lesbian?
    just asking….

  39. Fester Bestertester says:

    Aunt Soozie
    Perhaps a serious plant enthusiast? Smith College has a stunning Arboretum/Botanic Garden?

  40. Kelli says:

    Dylan Meconis does NOT look like Harry Potter.

  41. Dr. Empirical says:

    Sorry Auntie, I’m not a lesbian, although it’s true I like to sleep with women.

    The thing I miss most about Northampton is my all-time favorite music venue, the Iron Horse. I also saw scores of great concerts around the corner at Pearl Street during my grad school years. I love the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the town, which is one of the reasons those venues continue to thrive.

    I just checked the Iron Horse schedule to see who’s playing the night Alison is in town. Somehow I can’t picture Alison getting her freak on to the anti-melodies of Project Object.

  42. ksbel6 says:

    I too am sad that I am missing Alison…tonight in Chicago as a matter of fact. That is about 6 hours from here, and the closest she will be, but my fall has been crazy and my daughter has a band concert tonight. Timing is everything.

  43. DrSteve says:

    I’m sure this will be an easy question for SOMEONE here!

    I saw a short vid on WHYY in Philly last week. It showed Alison drawing, from pencil sketch through P’shop, a strip on the roof of her building. She took pics of herself to use as figure studies, etc. It was GREAT! I’d love to show that to my students. Where can I get a link to it, or a DVD?


  44. JayInChicago says:

    It was great to get a chance to see you and hear your…spiel. 🙂

  45. Sketchy says:

    I was wondering, what exactly was lesbophobic about the Young Lust comic? Not to say that it ISN’T lesbophobic; I’ve never read it and have no frame of reference. The few images I’ve managed to find on Google Image Search look hideous anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have picked it up even if I’d seen it.

    Also, is there any chance you’d visit the other Portland anytime soon?

  46. Susanna says:

    Oh goodness I must have been tired last night, to have spelled “paid” wrong….

  47. Anna says:

    Greeting from the northern Europe.
    A year ago I asked some book publishers if Fun House was goin to be translated. One of the claimed that it would be translated in Finnish within a year, were those suckers lying to me? or has there been a delay?

    And if they do have plans on making a translation (hopefully a good one) is there a chanse to see you here? There are schools for cartooning, co-op for women cartoonists and several festivals that would probably love to have you.

  48. DrSteve says:

    That link isn’t it… any one seen that video? Really nice to watch her work.

  49. ocean c. says:

    aww, look at those cute matching olive green lesbians in the first picture!

  50. Riotllama says:

    I have to admit to not having been to the blog in over a month, mostly because i’ve been traveling.
    I’m back now and posting because I had a visit from AB in a dream last night. (Stop slavering. I see you.)
    I was living in a ring shaped dirt pile (think castle battlements without the castle in the middle)with a group of my friends and we were being attacked by people who lived in RVs (yes it is all very Mad Max) and I was sneaking out to a market to try and steal us some food and Alison was in the store and helped me escape by saying that I was an Official Grocery Carrier and that we were filling an order for some rich person. She gave me a very silly hat to wear that involved pom poms as a uniform and then FLEW ME BACK TO THE BURROW IN HER BIPLANE!

    I was amelia earhart for halloween and have still been wearing pieces of that costume for a while so that makes sense, but the rest of it? rediculous! anyway..thanks for helping me escape dream jail, alison.

  51. Ginjoint says:

    Ellen, that Savage column (or rather, the legislation) is scary as hell. I just spent a couple days at my mother’s house, which is about 3 hours from Chicago. On my drive home, I was trying to find an NPR station on the radio (the cats cry if I try to play anything other than jazz, classical, or NPR, no joke), and I came across a fundie station. Morbid curiosity made me listen to a talk show in progress.

    They seemed to like using the word “evil” to describe Barack Obama. Evil. The whole thing was very paranoid and loaded with misinformation. There was this bizarre disconnect between their self-assured voices and what they were actually saying. I finally gave up.

    Ksbel, I’m glad to hear of progress with the pup!

  52. Garth / Haley says:

    Has anyone read Erika Moen’s ‘I’m scared of black people’ strip? It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. Nice video though – I like the response to the question about inspiration – ‘inner compulsion’, ‘need to represent’, I feel something similar about blurring genres. Films and Comics mashed together! Poems and films mashed together! The film script and the cartoon mashed together! Hours of fun.

  53. Sara says:

    Alison- thanks for coming back to Chicago! I hope you see more of the town than just the O’Hare terminal this time around…

  54. That Fuzzy Bastard says:

    I’ve hated Spain’s stuff ever since I first discovered Zap comics—like Crumb, or S. Clay Wilson, he always struck me as an incredibly crappy writer covering it up with ultra-detailed artwork (Binky Brown ftw!). And yeah, I remember the Young Lust strip you’re thinking of, and it was indeed gross on any number of levels.

    For those asking in this thread, it was about “The Misogynist”, a dude who beds lotsa babes, all unaware of the others. At the end, he’s confronted by a stereotypical dyke, who asks why he seems to ignore the very existence of women like her, and responds “‘Cause a dog like you is unworthy of touching my dick.”

    It’s actually not quite as bad as I make it sound here—there’s some kind of confused attempt at irony going on—but Spain is just such a New Left dunderhead, with his obsession with the rebelliousness of machismo, that he can’t make his point, or make a funny.

    It’s a shame, actually, that AB’s dislike of conflict made her unwilling to confront him at the panel—it could’ve been a really great moment in New Vs. Old comics,in which the ’80s generation decisively buries the Zap auteurs. But I guess Oedipal conflict isn’t really AB’s style anyway, and god love ‘er for it.