vicarious book tour

November 20th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Photo 334
Dateline: Hotel Northampton, at the end of my Essential DTWFOF book tour. It’s a cold gray morning and I’m very psyched about driving home today. I’ve been too crazed to do a regular post about each city I was in, but look! If I missed your town, you can watch my presentation here. This amazing website called videotapes all kinds of speeches and public discussions and presents them in a remarkably smooth streaming format. This is the event I did in San Francisco last week at The Booksmith. I’m really happy to have the evening preserved because it was such a warm, eager audience.

I also had a great time in Cambridge Tuesday night at my Center For New Words event. Look who came: Ready2agitate!

And Northampton last night was lovely too. I read at Broadside Books. It’s been nice to see such a range of ages at the readings, like last night in this college-riddled town, there were professors AND students. Look, here’s my friend Susan Stinson, the writer, at the bookstore last night.
After the reading Holly and I (my girlfriend Holly joined me for this last leg of the tour) had dinner with the amazing Rhymes With Orange cartoonist Hilary Price. But I don’t got any pictures of that.

52 Responses to “vicarious book tour”

  1. bean says:

    damn, those are some hot specs on susan s.!

  2. judybusy says:

    I love seeing pics of posters on this blog! It helps make us all seem a little more real….And, I love the shirt on Alison in the first shot–snazzy!

  3. Duncan says:

    That’s a nice video of you on the book tour! And the guy who introduced you managed to pronounce your last name right, which is something NPR never seems to be able to do.

    I still have my copy of Susan Stinson’s “Fat Girl Dances with Rocks”; maybe it’s time to reread it.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    Nice to finally see you, R2A! What are you holding? It kind of looks like a codpiece.

  5. noominal says:


    You are not paralyzed, you are not paralyzed, you are not paralyzed!

    All you have to do is semi-plan to do something else that requires some time and effort and as soon as you start to dig in on that task, you instantly distract yourself from that tedium with a good idea or block-breaker about your book. It’s like finding your car keys by looking for your wallet.

    Try making the Daily Distress into a multi-page .pdf, for example. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. noominal says:

    P.S. Loved I knew you weren’t coming to the midwest. But that’s okay, no one does, except to re-fuel and cast to either coast.

  7. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Lookin’ good, Ready2! How cool you got to hang with Hillary Price, Alison- I used to love her comics when I was a kid, back when the Twin Cities Reader ran em’ (and, uh, back when the Twin Cities Reader existed.)

  8. TAF says:

    Alison, you rocked the house in Cambridge on Tuesday! We all had a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Tone says:

    How amazing to be able to watch the presentation!!!! I almost feel like I’m in a book store in San Fransisco, even if I am really sitting in front of my fireplace in Norway. I have been sooo wanting to come to one of the readings, and with this video + my ex-girlfriend getting me a signed copy from the reading in Chicago, I almost feel fulfilled.

    It was fun to actually laugh together with someone while reading the strip. My favorite part of the Liebowits/Sontag joke is Stuarts facial expression and wonderful gasp.

    I can’t really deal with the thought of the strip not coming back though. I will focus on the excitment of the new memoir. I know that will be absolutely fabulous.

  10. Aunt Soozie says:

    Can’t wait to watch the san fran presentation. r2a… cool to see you in person! it looks like you are holding a pair of cowgirl boots. I love your silky jacket and vest. (did you make that matching scarf?) Alison’s shirt? the stripes are going in the wrong direction… other than that it’s really nice.

  11. K.B. says:

    Never had a chance to be at one of AB’s presentations, so this video was very nice to watch. What I liked best was that AB held out hope for the continuation of DTWOF, if it becomes commercially viable.

    What I like best about DTWOF is how silly a lot of it is. The whole silly story of Mo and Sydney and their Martha Stewart fetish is just so brilliant. I’d love to see more of this kind of frivolity.

  12. sk in london says:

    fantastic to watch you on…. great audience, great laughter.. all the way to London town. welcome home to the house in the woods and thanks for sharing your travels.

  13. mary(an) the librarian says:

    i was too embarrassed to say hi, but that last question labeled “craziest memento” on the video was me. thanks so much for being there and indulging my question!

  14. sashark says:

    Thanks so much for posting the video of your presentation! I always seem to be far away from whenever you’re touring, so it was great to get to see it.

  15. sillipitti says:

    I’m really looking forward to watching the presentation in 5 minute episodes, but I wanted to thank you, Alison, for that recent photo with Dylan Meconis–thanks to your recommendation, I’ve discovered her work, which I am finding tremendously entertaining!

  16. Ready2Agitate says:

    Congrats, Alison, on finishing yr tour! Hotel Northampton portrait, you look a tad, well, road-weary. (And who wouldn’t be??) No wonder you can feel paralyzed sometimes ~ you’ve been dang busy. Well, it’s gotten REALLY cold here in New England. Winter’s coming, time for hibernating… Good for you for clearing out yer clutter and completing a most wonderful and love-received tour. Now it’s time to rest.

    Thanks y’all for the shout-outs. Alas, what’s in my hand is just a right-handed black wrist splint (with a blue liner), held against my black wool chapeau. (Cowgirl boots & codpiece are much funner!) Aunt Sooz, scarf is from a local Tibetan import shop and I think hand-knit from pieces of sari cloth.

    I love how in the SF vid, AB’s eyes widen when she realizes that Cat Pimp is in the audience (and we get to put voice with photo). I felt that way too. Just so cool that Alison has provided this space for dykely discourse. And ditto sillipitti, I’ve “met” so many great artists, blogs, articles, humor, and websites from links posted here. Guess I’m feeling all warm & fuzzy tonight.

    ps AB shared that some folks in NY were having a D2WO4 party after her talk there, including the creation of culinary dishes (like Tempeh Tartar!) from the strip. Brooklyn Phil, Cybercita, and others, any reports?

  17. jayinchicago says:

    I love that as I’m pouring over The Essential DTWOF, I’m noticing tiny details I never saw when the strips first ran.
    For instance, check out page 216–the pharmacy scene with the embarrassing purchases. Check out the next to last row, middle panel. Do you see the shapely butt on the back of Stuart’s Prep. H carton?
    The leather daddy buying the econo-metamucil is hilarious too, but I think I did notice that in 1999.

  18. mamacrab says:

    I was there at the Northampton reading! With my 10 year old daughter. We both laughed and blushed when we realized the presentation was going to focus mostly on sex. LOL. Ah well – she had just had “sex ed” in school so it was kinda timely after all. Although I doubt they covered anything about Sydney wearing a strap-on, which was one of the slides in the presentation.

    We had a great time though. Alison you are are a very charming and endearing speaker! Alison also gave an autograph and drew a picture for my daughter- she was beyond thrilled. All in all, a very special mother-daughter night for us. Certainly very memorable, in many ways. Thank you Alison!!

  19. mamacrab says:

    Oh, and jayinchicago – I had that experience too. I never noticed before, in the scene where Clarice and Toni are having their civil union ceremony in Vermont, the three happy/silly/expectant/confused faces of the three emus who are “attending” the ceremony. I noticed for the first time during the presentation and it really made me laugh!!

  20. BrooklynPhil says:

    Hey Alison!
    Congrats on a successful tour! I’m sure it feels good to be back home.
    It was such a great evening in NYC on Monday, to meet one of my favorite authors. And I’m glad the NYC turn out was much better than that in LA.
    I mentioned to my friend Kathy that I wondered if the theme of sex in DTWOF for the presentation was a subversive act– you know, upending the power paradigm by reinscribing the locus of desire, as Sydney et al might say.

  21. judybusy says:

    I nominate mamacrab for coolest mom of the month, bringing her daughter to see Alison! Hey, with parents like this, maybe Americans’ uptight attitudes about sexuality can go the way of the mastodon!

  22. Susan Stinson says:

    Okay, a compliment on my glasses and the possibility that a denizen of this blog might reread one of my novels, plus the pleasures of Alison’s work, could keep a person going all day. Plus, I think I stood behind mamacrab and her daughter in the meditative line to get my copy of the new book signed.

  23. NLC says:

    regarding parenting, et al.

    Hi mamacrab. I remember seeing you and your daughter Weds evening. (I was the distinguished looking gentleman in the vest sitting in the comfy red chair in the back.)

    I’m glad your daughter could come. My younger daughter was planning to come to the reading, but had to cancel at the last minute. OTOH, my older daughter came with me to the reading in Brattleboro on the Fun Home tour.

    All of this is by way of saying that reading Fun Home as the father of a 19 year old daughter was quite a moving experience.

  24. Leda says:

    Hey, a few weeks ago I was in a student bookshop in Manchester (the UK one) which has books on reading lists for both Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University, when I saw a stack of Fun Home’s with a sign on top proclaiming Reading List. But not where for, I suppose you’d know all ready if it was relevant to you… Anyway in a few moments of combined fawning fandom and strenuous work avoidance, I have discovered that Fun Home is on the syllabus for the American Studies: Histories, Theories, Methods BA at Manchester University! Just in case you are keeping a track of UK universities studying your work…. Also its in Manchester Metropolitan University Library but doesn’t appear to be on any reading lists, so perhaps its just a treat!

  25. notpeanut says:

    Thank you Alison, it was *wonderful* to be able to watch your talk online. And I have to say, the first time I saw a DTWOF strip, when I was college in the early 90s, long before I really knew anything about it and became a regular reader, was a profound experience. I don’t know now exactly which one it was, but it was the first time I had ever seen an image of any kind of 2 women in bed together. For me it wasn’t sexualizing lesbians that stuck with me, it was how two women together became something I could “get” as really nothing strange at all. Come to think of it, it was also a more positive sexual image than I’d seen before. So it played a role in rehabilitating my attitudes about sex too. Who says it’s just a comic strip?

    Oh, and I second the nomination of mamacrab as coolest mom of the month.

  26. Mame says:

    hey…i sent a post abt the lawsuit against eHarmony for discrimination against same-sex couples…and it is not on here anymore…what happened?

  27. Mame says:

    oops….my mistake. it is under the entry where Alison had the photo of President-elect Obama’s street in Chicago…..I will re-post it here. really good news.

  28. DaneGreat says:

    Hi everyone! I’m on this magical bus from DC to NY that has internet! (Jesus, we really DO live in the future), and I’ve got my big, sweet, shiny new copy of EDTWOF right next to me. What an amazing collection. (and so reasonably priced! I was ready to shell out huge bucks for this book!) Thank you, thank you, Alison!

  29. Kate L says:

    Great to see you on! We DTWOF bloggers needs aome sort of gang sign so you can recognize us in an audience or across a crowded airport lobby. I suggest the gang sign George on “Seinfeld” proposed for the Van Buren street gang: Step 1: Bring your index finger up just behind your earlobe, as if deep in thought. Step 2: Slowly but deliberately bring your index finger down across the side of your face and off the top of your chin. Step 3: end the sign by pointing with your index finger to the person you just revealed your true identity to!

  30. Alex K says:

    What a wonderful time I’ve just had, AB, at your presentation!


    1) Do it again.
    2) When you do it again, give your interrogators a handheld mike, to let your viewers at home follow the conversation more closely, rather than making them scamper from wrong hypothesis to wrong hypothesis just trying to keep up.
    3) Is there a Sugarbush Farm? Did you go there to view emus? Mind you, I wouldn’t venture to criticise you for getting them wrong; and what you drew certainly looked emoid. (Nothing to do with “emo”. I don’t think that emus have inner lives anywhere near so complex as that. And the idea of a self-harming emu is…disturbing.)
    4) I’d missed Jezanna in the talk. That you mentioned her in the after-talk discussion pleased me. When she was found by Audrey, I was happy for them both.
    5) I like the sound of your voice. It’s from everywhere and nowhere, American without an accent. You wrote in FUN HOME that you groomed your vowels till all the Pennsylvanian was gone. Henry Higgins probably could find a trace of something or other, but to me it’s newscaster-pure.
    6) To save a scrap of paper napkin with a telephone number on it for twenty-five years!
    7) DTWOF and continuing the strip despite its lack of financial return: Easy for me to say, proper for you to disregard, but when we create beauty, we do it fuer den lieben Gott, for our crown in Heaven. You’ve earned yours already, of course, but c’mon. Bling it up.

  31. Kate L says:

    Returning to our habit here of veering wildly off-topic (as mentioned by her book store appearance!), the New York Times is now reporting that Hillary Clinton has accepted President-elect Obama’s offer to be secretary of state. This is quite a choice for her, because the United States Constitution forbids anyone from holding more than one position of “honor or trust” in the federal government at one time. Unlike the foreign secretary in the British cabinet who can remain as a member of parliament, she must resign from the U.S. senate before becoming the senior member of President Obama’s cabinet.

  32. Suz says:

    Hillary Clinton will be Sec of State? How cool to learn about that here.

  33. DeLandDeLakes says:


    They just sequenced the woolly mammoth genome. Mastodons may soon be not as passe as we thought. ๐Ÿ˜€

  34. Sophie in Montreal says:

    Ooooh – thanks for posting this! I was raising my hand when you asked how many people from the blog were there: me, me!
    I’ve had a feeling that you may not pick up the strip again and move on to other pursuits and you know what? Go for it! I for one can’t wait to see what you’re gonna come up with.

    PS. How would I go about sending you a SASE if I’m in Canada?

  35. Sophie in Montreal says:

    Raising my hand, that is, right here in my work/meditation room in groovy Plateau Mont-Royal, Quรฉbec.

  36. Julia says:

    Sophie, the best way to send a SASE to the US from Canada is to use an International Reply Coupon/Coupon-Reponse International. See here for more information.

  37. sillipitti says:

    I just finished watching the Booksmith video and I had to jot down a few thoughts

    Alison, I can’t believe you deprived that poor audience of the best punchline evah in Dykes to Watch Out For: “well, in that case, come here and do me, you big theoretical stud.”

    I loved how in the question period, the audience had far more to say than Alison. I don’t know about anybody else, but with my computer, I could hear the interlocuters at all, so it sounded a lot like the telephone conversations with my mother that my college roommate used to rag me about: “….yep……yep……mmhm….yeah…”

    Alison, maybe the reason you have a mental block about The L Word is that it doesn’t do what DTWOF did so perfectly, which was to represent people, lesbian and otherwise, in the context of the real and the now, in diversity of race, station, body shape, without judging, and not as hollywood beauty objects. (Let us all all give thanks for Jezanna!) So actually, i think lesbians (and perhaps all real Americans)would be just as hungry to see images of themselves, that is to say, real people. There is no mystery about why this reader still comes to this blog–like returning to a persistent shrine to an old lover, I harbour a very thinly veiled desire that the old flame will show up and take me back.

    And that brings me to the question of readership. I think I first saw DTWOF in a campus newspaper in Madison in the late 80s, but the first time I’m sure I saw it again was in a copy of The Funny Times that a friend gave to me. It was love at first sight. Maybe being what my daughter calls a “rainbow brite” dad made me more sympathetic to the characters but I really think it was the characters themselves, their situations and their unconventionalities (for example, Lois, the former anti-porn campaigner becoming a porn-and-bondage king), that made me love the them and the strip. For anyone with with a progressive politics, Alison’s very funny way of ranting through the characters was worth the read in itself, as was the great sendups of corporate names and logos (I don’t remember seeing DULL before this evening, but CRAP was a personal favourite). This all is a very long-winded but heartfelt way of saying that I think a much wider readership for DTWOF is a very real possibility. When I was in Madison I would never have dreamed that the style and the humour of that other campus comic strip, Life in Hell, would become the basis of one of the biggest TV shows of all time. Of course, I wouldn’t want DTWOF to be mainstreamed (or changed a jot for that matter), but I think there’s a lot of people out there who would love it who have just not had a chance to discover it.

  38. Alex K says:

    Clipping service: Today the TIMES (London) gives the front page of the Saturday book review to Spiegelman’s newest compilation, and the books-section editor, Erica Wagner, closes her introductory editorial on the graphic novel as a genre with the sentence: “Brian Selznick’s THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME, Chris Ware’s JIMMY CORRIGAN – if you love literature, you will love these artists’ images as well as their words.”

  39. Sophie in Montreal says:

    Thanks Julia!

  40. Pam I says:

    I’ve just been forced to shop at medusa/usa. The UK publishers only seem to be bringing out a paperback version of EDTWOF. Been waiting patiently for the medusa/uk wishlist copy to come up, but the hardback, tho listed as published on 4th November, is not stocked anywhere I can find here. Paperback is published here on 4th December.

    Why are the UK publishers/distributors running scared? Do they really think us impoverished Brits can only afford paperbacks (price difference of 6 GBP)? They did the same with Fun Home, I had to import proper hardbacks. This is all just a bit lacking in ambition. Even allowing for my book-fetish tendency, hardbacks are just nicer all round, especially for the seasonal gift market. Pah.

  41. metoo says:

    Loved you in NY. When you signed my copy of Fun Home I was too taken to tell you how I love the strip and the book and can’t wait for more!

  42. Ready2Agitate says:

    >>For anyone with with a progressive politics, Alisonโ€™s very funny way of ranting through the characters was worth the read in itself, as was the great sendups of corporate names and logos

    Hear hear, sillipitti. For me, it was not solely my coming out as bisexual in the 80s that brought me to D2WO4, but for sure my feminist politic. And this is what keeps me today despite much more prevalent gay representation in the broader culture.

    So it remains to be seen if “Love Life: A Memoir” attracts a broader readership to the strip. At the outset of the SF appearance, Alison expresses her doubt. But she could never have imagined the extraordinary appeal and reception of Fun Home. So I’m not at all convinced that DTWOF will not be sought out by a broader readership post-second memoir.

    Meantime, let’s just keep recommending and giving Fun Home (and the Essential) as gifts (holidays is coming, peeps!), and share her work. (However, if they come here to find old strips, they’ll just find a bunch of the likes of you and me blabbering on like the adoring fans we are!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. Athena says:

    I’m a Hampshire College student. I was SO looking forward to seeing you in Northampton, but then I got very, very sick and couldn’t go. I still have a shiny new copy of “Essential Dykes,” though, which is making me very happy.

    Last year I saw you speak at Amherst College, which was excellent. You are an incredible cartoonist, wordsmith, speaker, and simply an awesome human being. Best of luck with the new project you’re working on. Please visit the Pioneer Valley again some day!

    PS: I am such a drooling fan of yours, I even re-drew an old “Dykes” panel into a panel of a recent comic I did (it’s a little smutty, hope that’s okay):

  44. Donna says:

    Loved the presentation! To hear that you intend to write more grapic essays was music to my ears; I love the essay format in all its iterations: narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, creative nonfiction, personal narrative, et al. (And I feel like such a typical mainstream dunderhead for being a non-fiction lover who is helping–according to publishing biz stats–to sink novelists and writers of fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I like fiction too, but I’m such an essay addict. And I really tend not to be a mainstream dunderhead anywhere else in my life except for this blasted love of real-life stories.)
    Graphic essays would rock my world, I’m sure of it. Please be the one to pioneer that format, Alison!

  45. Ellen O. says:

    I was reading the New York Times when I was in N.J. a couple of weeks ago, and in a full-page Barnes and Nobel ad, I spotted your photo between Toni Morrison and Magic Johnson. Cool company.

  46. Miss Robin says:

    I’m looking forward to Love Life. You’re a terrific memoirist.

    (the photo from the hotel reminds me of E. Berlin, c. 1970s)

  47. Dr. Empirical says:

    The monthlong tribute to LGBT comics over at Comic Book Resources hit our favorite strip last week:

  48. cybercita says:

    very sweet article in this week’s new york magazine about alison retiring dtwof;

  49. Anonymous says:

    so much for the strip coming back

  50. cybercita says:

    @readytoagitate, i just read your question about the dtwof party in nyc. i didn’t know about it. sorry to miss the fun! but despite being a vegetarian, i can totally live without tempeh tartare!!!

  51. Nick Van der Graaf says:

    Glad to see the book tour is going so well. But something must be wrong – I keep looking but I don’t see the words “Toronto” or “Canada” on the itinerary… It must be there somewhere, it’s just that me old eyes don’t see so good anymore.

  52. muttertagsgeschenk says:

    Good informations, keep up the good work.