winds of change

May 10th, 2008 | Uncategorized

In amidst the recent strands about Bob Dylan’s and Joan Baez’s relationship, knitting and drinking, the etymology of “shambolic,” and self-inflicted haircuts, there’s been an insistent thread about fan-fic. As well as actual submissions of it–another one just in, see below.

This was touched off by my whiny video apologizing for not having the next strip done on time.

But it’s weird, because I’ve had a thought gestating about fan-fic. As one small module of a much larger thought I’ve been having about taking an official sabbatical from the strip. I’ve been mulling this over for weeks now, weighing the pros and cons, alternating between panic and relief, but I think I’m really gonna do it.

I also expected that I would make a coherent, carefully worded post about all my reasons instead of this kind of half-assed one. But it’s a big topic, and I expect I’ll be continuing to discuss it in many upcoming posts.

I haven’t even announced this to my newspapers yet. But here’s the rough outline of my plan.

I’m going to take an unspecified amount of time off from the strip so I can get my next memoir [Love Life: A Case Study] written and drawn by the fall 2009 deadline. It’s absolutely terrifying to me to consider this–I’ve been doing DTWOF at regular intervals since I was 23, and it’s become a sort of autonomic bodily function, always going on. Also, it seems crazy to give up a source of income, but the sad truth is, my income from the strip has taken a steep dive over the past couple of years. So it doesn’t represent as big a financial strain as it would have in the past. I’ve been losing lots of newspapers, and a disturbing proportion of the ones I still have are having trouble paying.
I’ve got one more episode in the hopper, #527. I’ll get it up next week. Interestingly, it’s about Sydney going on sabbatical. I find that if I think of my own break as a sabbatical—time off from one job to focus intensely (and temporarily) on another—it makes the idea of stopping more bearable.

There are all sorts of other things to consider–there are a bunch of people who’ve made contributions to the site, payment for reading the strip here regularly. I’ll figure out how to do pro-rated refunds to everyone.

I totally want to keep the blog going, if that’s possible. I guess we’ll see if it continues to hold peoples’ interest. One idea I had toward this end was to open it up to you guys, to having people write or draw stories about what the characters might be up to during my hiatus. I know the novelty of that might wear off soon, but it seemed like an interesting possibility. I guess we’ll see how it all evolves.

For now, here’s an awesome strip submitted by Tana Ford. Also, interestingly, on the theme of vacations.

128 Responses to “winds of change”

  1. Jain says:

    Please forget about the refunds. Just focus on the book.

  2. Miss T says:

    Wonderful. I can’t wait for your next book!

  3. lt says:

    DTWOF has been a staple in my life since coming out in college over 20 years ago – I can’t imagine what it would be like without it – yet I understand needing to do other things – I too recently have been debating a potential career shift. That being said – I truely hope this is a sabatical – and look forward to you returning refreshed and ready for the next chapters of their lives. Thanks for putting this together all these years!

    P.S. I concur – please don’t worry about the refunds.

  4. Lisa (Calico) says:

    Well Alison, I look at it this way – this will give us all two things to look forward to-the new book and more strips later on down the line!
    Just take care of yourself, your new relationship, and your book project. (And of course your cat). All will be just fine!

  5. MargaretInMaine says:

    I will really miss the strip…but will await the new book with great anticipation!
    That’s too bad to hear about newspapers dropping the strip and paying late – another sign in the demise of print media πŸ™ πŸ™ Maybe someone needs to start a web site where you have to pay a small fee, perhaps yearly, to see the comics.

    Also, I have to chime in to say forget about the refunding. I gave a small bit in the drive a while back.

  6. Andrew B says:

    Alison, speaking as a person who does view his contributions as payment for the strip, I want to second the people who have been telling you not to worry about refunds. It will be a serious nuisance for you to prorate them accurately, since people have donated different amounts at different times. You’ll also have to figure out a way to get payment to us. (I certainly hope Paypal has not kept my Visa account number on file all this time.)

    Some people may not see their donations as payments for the strip in the first place, and thus may not want refunds. I am happy to think of my payments as retrospective rather than prospective. I read the strip online for a while before I started to donate. When the next anniversary rolls around, I will reduce my payment to take account of the sabbatical (assuming you take one). You don’t need to go to the trouble of figuring out a prorated refund and getting it to me.

    I sure will miss the strip, though.

  7. JimB says:

    Maybe it’s worth pushing to have The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For run through #527. I suspect it’s far too late for that, but thought I’d mention it. I also am not interested in any refund.

  8. Erin83 says:

    Wow, that’s sad. I’m so embarrassingly attached to all the DTWOF characters that the thought of someday not seeing them progressing and reacting to current events feels like an impending death in the family. I will miss the strip on your (hopefully impermanent) separation from it, though I’m very much looking forward to your next graphic novel. I hope you have an illuminating sabbatical and that you will continue to update the world with your splendid blog.

    And let the DTWOF slash art begin!

  9. DCS says:

    Can you send the newspapers reruns? All the other cartoonists seem to do that.

  10. c&s says:

    Go for it Alison! You deserve a break! Fan fic! Fan fic! Woo Woo Woo! You are hot and cool too!

  11. Bookbird says:


    Take a sabbatical. I think the strip has been very good recently (since you went back to the biweekly schedule), but if it’s becoming a burden instead of creative pleasure better to set it aside for a while.

    Fanfic could be interesting, but also risky. Conversations on this blog show that there are strong and contradictory bodies of opinion about what should happen to and between the characters. You must have your own inklings about this too…. Fanfic set during the time of your sabbatical (as opposed to reworkings, revisitings, or reportings of things that have happened in the past) would affect the future possibilities of the strip. So I think you need to maintain control over the “canonical” storyline.

    That being said, I think today’s guest strip is terrific. It’s a distinctive but utterly different style, the characters are instantly recognizeable but different aspects of them are brought out, and it’s funny.

    Good luck with your decision. Whatever it is, I hope you keep the blog going. Maybe you can show us some of what else you’re working on?

  12. dzieger says:

    Me and my big mouth πŸ˜‰

    Funny, my only exposure to fan-fic is from science fiction/fantasy fandom, where my only reaction has been to run in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. Being asked to read someone’s crossover Harry Potter/Tolkien/Fantasic Four gay/furry** slash* epic, volumes 1 through 4 mind you, can spoil your appetite for an entire medium.

    * slash = “/” = erotic fan fiction pairing characters that would probably not get together in the source material, e.g. Kirk/Spock, Data/Wesley, or in the somewhat exaggerated case cited above, Feline Frodo / Greyhound Human Torch.

    ** Please don’t ask me about Furries. Check Wikipedia.

    However, in this thread, and in the contributions to the The Daily Distress, I’m seeing not only tremendous talent, but talented people with a gift for capturing the spirit of the strip.

    So I think this can work.

    Thus activated, I have a bunch of ideas, but this post is long enough, and I have kids to wrangle and three Ikea loft beds to assemble.

    But, yeah, let’s do this.

    And AB – enjoy that Sabbatical. You deserve a break.

  13. Sarah says:

    I think a sabbatical is a fantastic idea for you, AB. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been able to see DTWOF every two weeks anyway–I’ve never had access to it in a newspaper, so I used to have to wait for a new book to come out. (I’ll bet this is true for a lot of blog visitors–we’ve become spoiled, but we can reform.) It won’t be at all upsetting. And I’m sure the blog can continue–traffic seems perpetual here, not just surging every two weeks. It sounds like a very modest sabbatical too–as an academic, I’m looking forward to a whole *year* off from teaching soon!

    And don’t mention the idea of a refund again. People were paying for present joy, not expecting future returns.

  14. Noominal says:

    Would you throw out your mower because it was winter? No, spring will come and the grass again will grow. Stop worrying about refunds. Did we all demand our money back from the Cable company during the writer’s strike? Of course not. We all watched reruns or did something else entertaining until the strike ended and magically “new episodes” were announced, and we picked up where we left off.

    No one will stage a class-action walk-out here, Alison. We’ll catch up on old episodes and re-read Fun Home until you’re ready.

    If you can’t go totally cold turkey, try issuing an occasional single panel gag cartoon with our old friends to take the edge off.

    Chill. All will be well.

  15. Dharma Kelleher says:

    While we will all miss the strip, you have to do what is right for you.

    Peace out,

  16. Tabitha says:

    Lois looks insanely hot there. She’s always hot the way you draw her, but seeing her in a fresh style is just – BANG!

    It’s depressing to think that there won’t be new strips for who knows how long, but you have to do what you have to do. I’m looking forward to the new memoir.

    DTWOF fanfiction should be interesting. In my experience, fanfiction explodes when there’s something the viewers/readers aren’t getting from the series itself (a couple they want to see get together, the series being cut short and leaving loose ends, and so on) so having the strip on hiatus should really get people’s creative juices flowing.

    Re Furries: They are an odd but mostly harmless bunch. At Ringling where I went to school they’re just opened up a furry/anthro club. Our art school more than others seem to attract the odd geeks. I came to the realization that half my gay male friends are in that anthro club. One couple have matching dog suits. It’s weird, I don’t understand it, but hey, I’m glad they found each other.

  17. Bether says:

    I discovered DTWOF about four years ago, in book form, towards the end of college. It felt like coming home. I was blissfully surprised when I found out that you were still producing strips last year. Thank you for this.

    That being said, I totally understand the need for a sabbatical. Good on you, do good work, and we’ll await your potential future return.

  18. FrΓ€ulein says:

    Fan-fic…hmmm, what will your German fans think you’re proposing? More than you intend, I fear. Love the visions I’m having of what a Fan-fic might entail- every so often Ms. B. leafs through her list of fans and makes her selection.

  19. Chris says:

    Adding to the chorus. Keep the money. I’d been reading DTWOF online for ~6 years before I paid you for it. If we’d signed up for lifetime online subscriptions or something then some refund might be in order.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Quickly, while I nurse Dangerboy, I love your sketch diary, random video with random wildlife and your progress on your work. I will miss DTWOF,

  21. Anonymous says:

    typing, and nusing don’t mix… I will miss DTWOF, but I look forward to a return and how time will pass for the strip.

  22. ready2agitate says:

    It’s exciting to see your new relationship w/Holly blossoming, and that you saw yr bro perform for only the 2nd time ever. These are impt things! Maybe you can post yr video clips now & then (or bird porn, or compost meanderings) and we will all just riff on the topics on the blog (always returning to cats, of course), and share our thoughts and links and etc.

    Even though I’m going to go through bad withdrawal (aiyee aiyee aiyee!), I am so happy you’re doing this, Alison. Change is good. In a weird way, you’re kind of like a “friend” and I feel oddly protective of you!

    Go JT Ford – see ya in Ptown! (kidding, though, I’m actually getting (gulp) *married* that wkd!)

  23. ready2agitate says:

    Yes, nursing Nonymous, what you said! – sketch diary & random video…

  24. a different Emma says:

    Fuck Yeah. Do what you gotta do — JT Ford rocks! Great style.

  25. The Cat Pimp says:

    I’m not a big fan of fan fic, having been a recovered trekkie from the 1970s. However, one thought is that AB would write scripts and let other people she’s cherry picked illustrate them. I’d hate to see the characters go out of control. (BTW – Ford did a beautiful job there, not just in the drawings which are WOW, but – really got the essence of the characters without introducing a dangerous paradigm shift.)

  26. Cate says:

    Take time off, enjoy it and forget about the refund. I’m sad to lose the sense of community I get from reading the strip, but you need to do what feeds you now. My vote is to keep posting on the blog when you feel like it and see what emerges in terms of fan fic etc.

  27. jayinchicago says:

    You should definitely concentrate on your new graphic novel.
    Will you still be traveling and making appearances?
    Maybe we should bookclub all the strip books and someone else can start a blog where we can discuss them. I *think* I have the full collection–I snap them up in used bookstores because I know they are out of print and make good gifts. I just admitted to my DTWOF hoarding.

    take care!

  28. Peircey says:

    Hey, I just want to know where Sarah works that they still get real, year-long sabbaticals. Down here in Florida, in a good year, we get the chance every seven years to compete–no guarantees–for one semester at full pay; there is one sabbatical allotted for every forty faculty members. (Better than most jobs, to be sure–but when keeping your job requires publishing a book, time “off” is important.)

    This is not a good year. The state’s economy is in free fall, basic human services have been slashed, and the legislature keeps passing TAX CUTS! Here at the “flagship” university, the president just announced his plan to lay off 138 people–including staff with decades of service and also tenure-stream faculty. (For comparison’s sake, his BONUS for last year was $285K–enough to cover some staff members’ salary for more than a decade.)

    SARAH, if you’re still out there: are you guys hiring?

    PS – Sorry for the tangential rant. I’ve been reading for awhile without contributing. I’ll make a donation now, specifically to support AB’s sabbatical.

  29. Olivier says:

    Just wanted to say that I, too, do not want AB pulling her hair over the mechanics of fair and precise refunds: just let go of it. Those payments were gifts of sorts: to show support, not payments for services, and you don’t refund gifts…

  30. Aunt Soozie says:

    Can’t wait for the new book.
    and I agree with everyone here about supporting your work.
    As long as dtwof comes back someday…
    can’t give it up forever but I can tolerate living without,
    one day at a time…

    I think the blog will survive with your oddities, movies, thoughts, gardening tips…

    ps…my “kitten” hasn’t been spayed and now she’s in heat. (appt. for her surgery is in two weeks) When kitty starts her complaining my kid says it’s just awful and that kitty must feel so “rejected”. Kid says, Poor Kitty! She calls and call but no one ever comes! How would YOU feel if no one asked YOU to the high school dance? Maybe I’ll suggest she do another strip with that theme… kitten’s first high school dance.

  31. DaneGreat says:

    More fanfic…like LondonBoy, I’m neither an artist nor a fiction writer, but this scene has been bouncing around in my head for awhile:

    Lois McGuiver knew metamorphosis as intimately as a hatching cicada. She understood what it meant to change inside a shell, never letting anyone watch the new growth and unfolding. The first shell had been high school, hiding two semesters of “extra trig help” sessions with Ms. Granger behind the sparkles of her cheerleader drag.

    In her twenties, the shell was WAP – Women Against Pornography. Lois knew how to protest, how to shout and rage and mix wheat paste with the best of them, and quickly learned to hide her growing collection of S/M toys in old sweaters at the bottom of her closet.

    But this most recent shell was less of a disguise than an absence. The run-in with Mo and the co-op had shaken Lois more than she wanted to admit. She’d never felt so out of touch with her former selves, so disconnected from everything she’d promised herself would one day happen.

    Janis came out to the porch, slamming the door behind her. She sat sulkily just out of Lois’s reach, but announced dramatically, “I, like, totally need a beer right now. I *deserve* a beer right now. Mom is being a transphobic, paranoid bitch, and I *cannot* deal.”

    Lois sighed, and then said the first thing that popped into her mouth, and the last thing she ever thought she would:

    “Princess, when I was your age…”

  32. Jaibe says:

    Well, I’m on sabbatical myself now, so I can’t complain. I do miss the undergrads & feel bad about not teaching them, but I don’t miss marking them, nor uni politics. Warning — all you get done the first 3 months is all the stuff you meant to get done before it started, so take at *least* six!

  33. jude says:

    alison – ditto all the take a break and get it done support above. what could any of us want from you but what you most want to do?
    about slash fiction – yeah – it’s usually where you go to find stories the originators would never give you – so there’s a lot of same sex sex. so DTWOF slash would pair – o dear. no.

  34. Em says:

    Fanfic would be awesome, does anyone remember this here art by bonnieslashfiend?–9

    I just love Bushwoman Dreaming.

    I’m always coming up with fic ideas but I’m terrible at carrying them out, the ones so far are awesome! I’d love to see fic about the characters before their debut in the strip, Stuart in particular would be amusing. I find it interesting that in Sentimental Education (the flashback in Unnatural DTWOF) Sparrows ex boyfriend Ralph bears a striking resemblance to a certain kilt-wearing locavore?

    And I do believe we have reached an internet first; a mention of furries without a gigantic flame war breaking out . I don’t even think it’s that strange a subculture yet it seems to be a touchy subject online, with many a messageboard decimated by ‘furry wars’.

  35. K.B. says:

    O no! I will have to get my own life now?

    I know it’s a minority opinion, but I much prefer a couple of good dtwof episodes over fun home or another memoir.

    But, you gotta do what you gotta do…

  36. C. says:

    [cue standard defense of a hobby in which there is a lot of garbage and some surprisingly breathtaking writing by people whose published work you’d recognize] DTWOF slash would just be canon pairings – if there are same-sex relationships in the canon material, they are slash, and the het pairings of those characters are the transgressive ones. And, if there’s no sex in the story, it’s gen (general/generic).

    That said, fic is at its best when creating stories about minor or super-minor characters; oddly enough, a group of us were brainstorming DWTOF minor-character fic at a restaurant last night. Perhaps I’ll write it.

  37. Ian says:

    Knew this was coming as soon as you posted the “whiny video”. Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. If it’s not fun – take a break, concentrate on what you really want to do.

    I was debating posting a spoof angry rant about betrayal and abandonment issues, but I couldn’t get the tone right. πŸ˜‰

    Oh and the refund. Erm, no thanks. Unless you really want to spend your time working out how to send something like $3.42 to me? Thought not.

  38. Suz says:

    Paying work comes first– of course.

    Any chance you’d rerun DWTOF from the beginning for the blog, though, AB? Even though it seems that most active blog participants have the books (or will when the new one comes out) part of the attraction here is the conversation that the strips engender.

  39. Feminista says:

    Great job above,JT. Realistic,well-done drawings,complete with little details like Mo’s anxious look. Appropriately witty storyline,too,with nice plugs for VT literati and comicati (?)

    One question: how is it that Cynthia has been going to Provincetown for many years? I wouldn’t think her right-wing parents would have let her go to that *den of iniquity* in that Liberal State. Esp since she hadn’t heard of it since,um,last month!?

  40. QKelly says:

    I’ve taken two sabbaticals in my academic career and loved both of them; they were more than worth it. But I’ll pass on a word of advice given to me by our college president on the eve of my first sabbatical. “Got your research plan mapped out?” he asked. When I said yes, he replied, “Excellent. Now cut it in half. And if you accomplish half of that half, you’ll be in good shape.” And he was right — my original plan was way too ambitious. So go ahead, plan big — just don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish it all.

  41. Andi says:

    Refunds??? No, no no! Not on your life! What we get from this blog is priceless. I don’t think any of us would accept a penny back, Alison. And Sydney’s going on sabbatical seems like the perfect moment to hit the “pause” button on DTWOF.

    I think whatever you do from here on in should be what best supports your own creative process and growth. When I wrote my dissertation, I had a dissertation journal on the computer. It was a place to toss around ideas, blow off steam, and step back and get a bigger perspective on what I was doing.

    So maybe the blog can serve that purpose for you — let us know how the book’s coming, keep doing cool videos of birds and dirt and gardens and kitties, and perhaps toss in a sketch diary entry or an old strip every once in a while. I’d be a happy little camper with that combo, personally.

    A blog is such an interesting social space, isn’t it? On one hand, it’s about you, not us. On the other hand, if it wasn’t also about us, then why blog in the first place? You “speak” in your posts, then you get to “listen” to us answer, chime in if you want, or simply observe. You post the content you choose, but isn’t the “audience” (us) always kept in mind? It’s a fascinating social and cultural dance of communication; always evolving, never static.

    Amazing conversations take place in this particular “space” in the blogiverse. I hope they continue, in whatever form.

  42. Elisablue says:

    Alison, you’re the creator, just do whatever you feel is right with your creation…

    Just thank you for creating it.


  43. John says:

    I love the strip and will miss it.

    Best wishes for a speedy deshamblizing!

  44. QKelly says:

    Also — I LOVE slash fanfic. Sure, a lot of it is crap, but much of it is innovative, collaborative, creative, literary. . .and really hot. I don’t read male/male stories (nothing against them, you understand, but it’s women who turn me on), but I’m a sucker for well-written femslash. There’s not as much female/female fic as there is m/m, but it’s worth ferreting out the good stuff. There are a helluva lot of fine writers out there. So I love the idea of turning the blog into a DTWOF fanfic site for the duration.

    C. is right, though — slash is at its best when it transgresses/subverts the canon narrative. So maybe Mo has a fling Stuart? Carlos hooks up with Jezanna? After a wild bdsm night, Cynthia converts Clarice, who decided that homosexuality is a sin after all and takes Raffi to go live in a Shaker commune? Lois becomes a Republican, perms her hair, and opens a Martha Stewart franchise boutique?

  45. dzieger says:

    2/3 of one bed finished; only took….3 1/2 hours. Jeez, I flunked Ikea. God help me if I ever have to fashion a shelter in the wilderness. I’ve got the survival skills of a … well, a middle-aged suburbanite techie, I guess.

    BTW, I’ve got nothing against furries — I’m down with anything between two or more consenting organisms. I just think that until we reach that post-human, genetic-engineering-for-fashion’s-sake, new-gender-in-a-pill future some of the more interesting genre writers have extrapolated, it’s going to be hard to take seriously just from an aesthetic standpoint.

    As far as the fanfic site is concerned, those of us who don’t have the illustration skills could participate in other ways. I’m sure some of the dramatis personae keep blogs, for instance. I’m a fan of Chris Onstad’s “Achewood,” and in addition to updating the strip several times a week, he maintains voluminous blogs on behalf of each of the main characters.

    I’m sure a blog maintained by Sydney would be highly entertaining, though if any one here is capable of maintaining that level of archness, you’re a better mammal than I.

    Actually, there are all sorts of interesting possibilities in the area of social networking. I on “Twitter,” which is a sort of micro-blogging platform, where posts are limited to 140 characters, intended to answer the question “what are you doing right now.” You can “follow” friends, strangers, or anyone in between who posts to Twitter. Some prominent users have thousands of followers, some people keep it private.

    What I’m getting to is, AB could, for example keep us posted on what’s happening with the characters by creating Twitter accounts for them. Every once is a while, she could take a minute to have Stuart post about something J.R. did (with some subtle subtext suggesting tension between him and Sparrow, of course).

    Anyway, there are tons of possibilities.

    It was 90 minutes of distractions between the previous 2 sentences, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

  46. sparks says:


    I mean, uh, do what you must, I mean what’s best for you (chokes back sob).

    (actually, very interested in the new book, and am always glad when people find the right balance of work/life.)

  47. C.H. says:

    Wouldn’t DTWOF slash be Stewart getting on with much of the rest of the cast?

    Instead of a refund, I would ask every donor (or donors above a certain level) to be given either copies of The Essential DTWOF, the upcoming book (upon its release), or Fun Home, at their discretion.

    Just in: And lower lever donors could receive any one of the original books (from the current print run, of course).

    Or you could do what I wanted you to do in the first place: donate any remainder to charity.

  48. sara says:


    Here’s to an absolutely incredible Vermont summer for you and yours – so looking forward to the next book – keep in touch – we love you.

  49. dana says:

    I was introduced to DTWOF by the Lois-equivalent of a high school crush when I was 16 (I’m now 28). I kept copies of Unnatural and Hot-Throbbing under my mattress until I left for college (Oberlin!). I started reading your blog about a year ago- shortly after finishing Fun Home. I never left a response, but I do check every morning for new posts. It’s part of my morning ritual. The comic strip posts are great- but so are your other posts…I had never heard of Jane Rule, for example. So for those of us who are regular readers, but not writers, please keep the posts coming even while on sabbatical!

  50. Aunt Soozie says:

    $3.42 doesn’t buy much book, let alone postage…
    I dunno, unless of course some of y’all were very, very generous,
    much more so than Ian that is…
    I like the idea of starting from the beginning,
    all over again…
    but I don’t know how much work it entails to put the old ones up here.

  51. Leda says:

    A sabbatical sounds like a brilliant idea, I can’t imagine how you have managed to keep things so fresh having not taken a serious break like this so far.

    I think the fanfic sounds great too, but watch out that the moderation of it doesn’t turn out to be as involving as actually doing the strip yourself. Providing that the whole thing is thought of as imaginings of alternate realities involving your characters rather than an attempt to keep a coherent story line going then that should be fine, after all the strip is yours and the actual storyline will stop until you start it again. I’m sure the debates that are to be had regarding each others imaginings will be very interesting to say the least…

    It would be great if the blog were kept going if you felt like it and it does something for you, as far as I’m concerned the posts in between the strips are not filler at all but something else of equal value.

    Have fun and enjoy your new life!

  52. Maryann Connolly says:

    Hi there,
    I love your strip, but fully support a sabbatical. RETURN THE MONEY? Are you crazy? As far as I am concerned I made an investment in an artist’s career – like giving to the National Endowment for the Arts. Please do not send any money back (at least not to me) – in fact I think the blog should start another appeal – The “Alison on Sabbatical Fund”

    (just one request – could you wait until Gary Trudeau comes back from his sabbbatical before you start yours? It’s hard to give up two addictions at one time….)

    XO MBC

  53. Wendy says:

    Great idea to take a sabbatical. I wouldn’t worry about this blog going away any time soon. Even without the strip we’ll all be really interested, especially if you keep posting fan-fic strips. I also don’t think the fan-fic strips are going away. Looking at fan fic on the internet, it is just huge. People have so much creativity I just sit in awe of it all.
    Oh, and please don’t bother with a refund. You are not seriously thinking about that are you? Get a grip. You posted tons of free strips before you even thought to give us a way to donate for more.

  54. Lavode says:

    The quality of fanfic usually depends on what kind of fans that particular fandom attracts. I think all the fanstrips so far are examples of good fanfic.

    “Wouldn’t DTWOF slash be Stewart getting on with much of the rest of the cast?”

    You mean like in Strangers in Paradise? I’d hope not…

  55. rinky says:

    I don’t think the blog is likely to get any quieter AB. You definitely deserve a break. We will be happy if there are a few sketch diary entries and then we will have your new book to look forward to as a reward for missing out on strips. Oooh I can’t wait.

    I’ve got an idea for a single cell barber pic. See if I get time.

  56. Brigham says:

    Stuart should check out P-town in the second week of July. He may find it an eye-opening experience.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Professors get a sabbatical every seven years. I think you are owed three by now, right?

  58. Str8 but not Narrow says:

    Heh. I have *all* the books in the original format, some of them signed by our proprietess at Lambda Rising in D.C. circa 1997. (Think I may have bowled her over a bit with my enthusiasm, but hey, I’ve been reading since the early 90s… Just re-read them all lately, in fact…)

    I’ll miss our gals terribly, but of course we’ll all understand. The only bummer is that we presumably won’t be getting another DTWOF book soon since there won’t be enough strips since Invasion…hope I’m wrong about this…

  59. Chris (in Massachusetts) says:

    Alison! No refunds for me, thank you!

    You earned every cent of my modest donations, and I will hear nothing whatsoever of any refunds, lest I be forced to journey to Vermont to slap you with a wet gym sock.

    You have been warned!

  60. Ian says:

    Aunt Soozie! The $3.42 was a random figure type stab in the dark at what might be left following AB’s rough guide of a $1 or $2 donation per strip! How dare you!

    I like the idea above though. If your guilt can’t stand the thought of keeping the leftovers of donations, just give ’em to whichever charity you want.

    Str8 but not narrow: a new collection “The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For” comes out later this year.

  61. Wendy says:

    Hey Maryann,
    I am really missing Doonesbury too! But at least he’s still doing his Sunday strip.

  62. Cynthia-Symp says:

    Hmm, a guest strip about Provincetown and a entry title that is also the title of a Radcylffe novel set in … Provincetown. Deeply significant. Or not.

    I’ll miss Mo and Co. immensely, but I know they’ll be back. You’ve been wrangling them for 25 years–I’m sure they’ve taken over bits of your brain. They’ll be talking to you whether you want them to our not!

    On Dory Previn’s live album, there’s a moment when everyone is yelling out songs they’d like her to sing, and then one person shouts, “Do whatever you want to do!” And then she sings an awesome song! (“Moon Rock,” I think.)

  63. Cynthia-Symp says:

    Um, the Radclyffe novel is Winds of Fortune, not Winds of Change. So just forget I typed that, OK?

  64. ComicNurse says:

    I’m a lesbian-cartoonist-nurse who doesn’t read really DTWOF (gasp!) but I (practically) hand out copies of Fun Home to everyone I meet (and I love this blog). So weighing in for this sub-population: take the sabbatical. The world NEEDS another graphic novel from you as soon as we can get one. I also echo the earlier posts here affirming the importance of your deepening human relationships.

  65. jen in california says:

    Time away will give you new energy and perspective. No art is served by a lack of balance in life. Take care of yourself and your creativity.

    Structure your sabbatical however it works for you. You can provide art substitutes or not. You fans will stay loyal.

    I miss the strip immensely, but will my heart will fonder when it returns πŸ™‚

    – Jen

  66. Sarah says:

    Piercey–I know I’m lucky. Seven Sisters, baby. No state legislature can touch us. There are minuses, but the plus column is long.

  67. Pam says:

    Absolutely forget about refunding me – I’d been reading online for a while before I sent the contribution. And I know what it’s like to be overloaded. Just focus on that book, which I know will be fabulous.

  68. NLC says:

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned it, but I noticed that _Essential DTWOF_ is now listed on Amazon:

    No cover shot (but we’ve already seen that) and available only for “pre-order”.

    OTOH, I see it’s already in the top 3/4 million of the best-selling titles…

  69. Peircey says:

    Thanks, Sarah. If your institution ever finds itself in need of an undistinguished assoc prof in English, be sure to let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to spend more time on faculty union work than publishing, trying to preserve working conditions in which it’s possible for people to teach things like _Fun Home_.

    Massachusetts sounds pretty good right now….

  70. Minnie says:

    Wow, Sabbaticals are the way to go!

    The little bit of $$ I’ve sent a couple of times was to keep the website up. Sure, the the strip was what drew me to the site in the first place, but:

    I sure don’t want a pro-rata refund. Or any refund. Sheesh! Kindly thought, anyway.

    Besides, I’d hope the website would continue during Sabbatical, if sporadically. I’m so enriched by all of you!

    And NLC, I love it! Essential DTWOF in the 750,000 top-sellers booklist! (Amazon-wise, anyway) Will you update us from time to time?
    Happy female day, all!

  71. sam says:

    i’m totally in favor of you focusing on (and finishing) your book; i CAN’T WAIT to read all about your love life! the strip will always be waiting for you, and if the time away from it can help you write the best book you can write, then by all means…

    but please keep up with the blog. it’s fun!

  72. Leslie says:

    just one more in the long list of well wishers.
    sabbaticals are HOTT!

  73. mk says:

    Can’t wait for your book – will miss DTWOF but hey that’s life.
    As for fanfic – I kind of think it works best when separate from the “original”. I just wonder if it wouldn’t be weird if it was hosted on the “home” site of DTWOF. Of course, the stuff here is more “fun with” and “tribute to” DTWOF. I’m not sure this strip will inspire the legions of fanfic you get with fantasy/scifi, though I woudn’t mind the kinky stuff. Maybe Thea could be secretly tying Stuart up in her basement while Sparrow is complaining to her on-line fetishists about how vanilla her partner is. Hee Hee.

  74. leighisflying says:

    Refund? As if. Just do your thing AB! As far as I’m concerned my money was well spent. Best wishes for your best wishes.


  75. Jennifer says:

    Go write your book. I’m grateful you have a publishing contract for another memoir.

    Please, please, pretty please re-post that strip where all of our beloved characters take off their masks and call up their agents to complain. I seem to recall Stewart with a leather kilt in that one. It’ll fuel my retarded/inappropriate ideas for fanfic.

  76. shadocat says:

    Well, I haven’t been this sad since Madwimmin closed. My reader’s heart is broken. But as someone said earlier, ya gotta do what you gotta do.However, I would like to see the blog go on, if possible. I’ve “met” people (in a cyber way) and learned things that I may never have without it. It’s become a part of my daily routine–to lose it AND the strip at the same time would be too much to bear. (Think I’m kidding? I’m still grieving over “Calvin and Hobbes”.)

  77. Jennifer says:

    I’ve got it! Re-cast the L Word with the DTWOF characters. Stewart can be Jenny!

  78. Maggie Jochild says:

    If the blog meets your personal needs, Alison (mercantile, creative, emotional, intellectual), then maintain it. If it doesn’t, I say let it go.

    Turning it into a fanfic site, in my opinion, would be disastrous. I can guarantee that my contribution to a possible story line would be alienating to a certain portion of the readership here, and I’m just as certain that some of the ideas I’ve already seen floated around are not things I’m going to want to read. These characters live in Alison’s head, not ours. We can (and do) map ourselves onto them (as some people here persist in mapping themselves onto Alison, imaging themselves into her life), but that is not reality and it is frequently unattractive.

    What works best is what comes from the horse’s mouth. As someone who has written slash fiction, read it and enjoyed it, and who is a daily writer of other genres, I’m not currently interested in second-best. I’d request that any fanfic site be separate from this, the original DTWOF.

    Plus: I’d STRONGLY recommend that Alison not give up creative control of her characters and universe to ANYONE else. You need to talk to a lawyer versed in internet copyright to be clear about what you are agreeing to, Alison.

  79. April says:

    ready2agitate: did you say “married”? Congratulations!

    JT: most excellent.

    GreatDane: love love love the depths of Lois. More please.

    Lavode: Strangers in Paradise, , heh heh…

    AB: Write! Draw! The quicker that’s done, the sooner we’ll see more D2WO4, right?

    And now, having plumbed the depths of shame, reading all about everyone’s financial contributions to this site, I’m going down to the bookshop to get me some more “Dykes”. Several copies for gifts too.

  80. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Bummer. But do whatever you gotta do, Alison- your adoring fans will be awaiting your next project, whatever that may be. And JT, you’re REALLY GOOD!!! The way you draw Lois makes her look like my transmen friends. πŸ™‚

  81. j.b.t. says:

    Hi Alison and Everyone,

    I’m sad about the sabbatical, but will deal. I do like the idea of the occasional 1-panel update, or having you write a script and other people draw it. Also, the re-run of the whole strip from the beginning sounds great.

    I must admit, I’m feeling some anxiety about “sabbatical.” How long will it be? Will you really come back to us? I’m going to miss it so much! When you were only drawing once a month it felt like forever to wait…

    And I’m with everyone else – don’t even think about the money.

    Thank you so much for everything,

  82. Ellen O. says:

    I know very little about fan fiction and even less about slash fiction. (Don’t even know what that terms means.)

    Yet–and I don’t mean to be rude to the guest cartoonists–my attention would be better grabbed by artists and writers who create their own characters and storylines.

    As a one-time thing, it’s fun to see DTWOF characters drawn by others, but no one combines top-notch drawing skills, rich visual details, clever, succinct language, a fresh storyline, and incisive commentary like Alison.

  83. dzieger says:

    Maggie: No one’s suggesting turning _this_ site into a fanfic / fan art site. I offered to host/set up a site to house such things, and as an extension of this community. Nothing posted on such a site would be “official.” Certainly, no one is suggesting that AB turn over the reins of DTWOF to her fans in her absence.

    SF author Larry Niven, describes the worlds he and his colleagues create as “Playgrounds of the Mind.” If your characters, settings and stories are vivid and well-crafted and compelling enough, the reader’s involvement won’t end after the last page.

    Science fiction readers often spend a great deal of time plying with the ideas presented in the better examples of the literature, extrapolating, interpolating. Yes, some write lame fanfic as an excuse to play out little action-figure fantasies; but more often, the ideas get tossed around, held up to the light, analyzed, expanded upon, etc., in conversation, in print, and online.

    Similarly, each new DTWOF episode posted here sparks discussions that range from deep analysis (“great use of crosshatching on that 5-pixel-high background figure in panel 7; cleverly foreshadows Clarice’s expression in the penultimate panel”), to gossip about fictional characters (“Is it just me, or is Stuart getting more clueless as time goes on?”), to predictions / suggestions of future story lines (“Clarice & Lois! One night stand!”), even facetious (one hopes) attempts to fix characters up with real life people (“I know the perfect girl for Cynthia.”).

    There are also extended political discussions, arguments over semantics, semiotics, ontology; deconstructions of dykish dialectics and tiresome tirades trashing the teleological tautologies of theodicy tr…wait, sorry, wrong blog.

    Anyway, I’m just suggesting that while AB goes on break, we set up a little playground of the mind on a nearby domain and have some fun. As I said before, I’ve never cared for fan fiction, never run a fan site. But there seems to be a surfeit of intelligence, talent and perception among AB’s fans, and I think it would be rewarding to foster that.

  84. ready2agitate says:

    Thanks Ellen Orleans – I was feeling sheepish to admit my ignorance of fanfic & slash(/?)fiction…

    Ditto to being put to shame re: a lack of strong financial support for AB (I’m also a Paypal dumb-dumb) — time to buy some more AB books!

    And April: Thanks!!!

  85. andrewo says:

    It’s so odd that with the advent of graphic novels an ongoing novel like DTWOF can’t be sustained. But maybe it’s because we’re also reading it on line! Newspapers seem to be fading generally.

    This alternative strip is beautifully drawn. I’d like to see more of her work.

  86. Johanna S. says:

    Maggie Jochild raises an interesting point. I have seen other (mainly web-published) cartoonists write lengthy disclaimers saying their lawyers have advised them to not publicly endorse or even admit to reading fan fiction because of possible copyright issues (I am not entirely sure exactly what these issues would entail). Might be an idea to consult a lawyer if the fanfic installations are going to be continued though.

    Other than that, I hope the sabbatical proves fruitful and that we might get an occasional update on the artistic condition through a sketch diary entry or similar πŸ™‚

  87. ready2agitate says:

    @andrewo >>It’s so odd that with the advent of graphic novels an ongoing novel like DTWOF can’t be sustained.

    Ah, but it’s graphic *memoirs* that are so compelling these days (witness Fun Home, Persepolis…)

  88. anna says:

    Avid fan in greece unhappy… I only just discovered the “dykes” and i’m not ready to loose them so fast (even if it’s not permanent). But I’m thrilled about the idea of another memoir. So, take care dear alison and do what you gotta do. I’ll still drop in and keep ordering those albums from…

  89. anna says:

    BTW “spring fever” rocks!
    Great job Tana

  90. judybusy says:

    Great strip! Having said that, I don’t know if I’d be so interested in a lot of fanfic. It sounds funny, but knowing that the action isn’t “really” happening lessens my interest. I’d rather AB focus on the next book, and maybe post on the blog once a week to give us a way to stay connected and talking. Also I second the idea of running the strips from day one, but only if that’s not too time-consuming. But, if she chooses not to do anything, and that’s my biggest problem in life, let’s put it into perspective and say, “That was superfun while it lasted!”

    Kudos to you, Alison, for having the guts and wisdom to take care of yourself. Please know we’ll all be here, with great anticipation for the book and the strip.

  91. Deena in OR says:


    My understanding is that, if an author were to admit that she reads fanfic based on her own characters, she might open herself to charges of plagarism if her later published work was “too close” in plotline or situation to an existing piece of fanfic. Anybody else want to chime in with a better explanation?

  92. Danyell says:

    Best fan strip yet. I love the style and the “spitoie”!

    I think the fans that donate do so to support YOU, the artist. So if they have to pay so you can finish your next fabulous book in a timely manner, I think they’ll be ok with that. Me, I can’t afford to make regular contributions, but I will buy the next book the same week it comes out, you can count on that.

  93. Danyell says:

    P.S. Does Tana Ford have a website? I’d love to see more stuff.

  94. cybercita says:

    no refunds for me, please.

  95. NLC says:

    Concerning the discussion as to why a lawyer might advise an artist/author to steer clear of fanfict:

    IANAL, etc, but aside from the issue of possible charges of plagarism, I think another concern is “laches”; which is basically the copyright equivalent of “If you snooze, you lose”.

    In short, the principle says that if it can be shown that you have knowingly allowed your copyright to be violated (without adequately defending it), then it can be argued that you have let the copyright legally expire.

    So, for example, if someone were to violate the copyright of an artist (by, say, using the artist’s characters in an unauthorized or unlicensed ad campaign) and the artist were to sue the advertiser for copyright infringement, it’s possible for the advertiser to counter the suit by showing that the artist (knowingly) allowed some other user –e.g. a fanfict site– to have used the the characters in an unlicensed way; and thereby that the artist has, in a real sense, permitted the copyright to become invalid.

    (This is often the underlying motive when you hear some horror story about, say, Charles Schulz’s lawyers jumping on some veterinarian in Bucolia, Maine because the vet painted a picture of Snoopy on the side of her office.)

    Mr Bumble may be right when he pointed out that the law is an ass. And playing the game sometimes makes the players appear to be real jerks. But they are often left with no other real choice.

  96. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Ellen O. and ready2agitate:

    “Slash” is male/male homoerotic fan fiction. The term femmeslash is sometimes used to refer to female/female fics, but usually the two are simply referred to as “slash.” It got started in America with female Star Trek fans writing naughty escapades about Kirk and Spock, and has had a long, healthy life in Japan before that (you will find scores of male/male erotica sold there, under the heading of “Ladies’ Interest” magazines. I always thought it was interesting that some “sex radical” lesbians are so smug about the fact that they enjoy fag porn, when my little sister and most of her friends have been relishing smutty stories about Harry Potter and Draco (or Legolas and Aragorn, or Professor X and Magneto…), as both producers and consumers, since they were in middle school.

  97. Kassie says:

    I’m also sad to lose my favorite comic…I bought a strip about a year ago, and I will treasure it even more until more strips come along. Alison, I’ll want to know, among other things, how your zinnias and basil are doing, if your phoebes nest with you, and how your kitty enjoys her summer outside, so I hope some postings come along from time to time. Enjoy your sabbatical!!! We all love you.

  98. Karin says:

    Hi -Did you know that the straight version of DTWOF is also undergoing a change this year? “For Better or For Worse” which I’ve been reading since 1983 is no longer aging its characters and is freezing in time … forever. Lynn Johnston, the strip’s creator, decided that 2008 would be the last year that the characters age. I’ve read DTWOF since the 80s (I think). When I found out about FBOFW, I was sad and thought “will April graduate? Will Liz get married?” and then practially slapped myself and said “these aren’t real people!” Same with DTWOF. Good luck to you, Allison, with your new book. I bought Fun Home and loved it. Take good care.

  99. Deena in OR says:

    NLC-I remember that part now. Which would also explain why J. K. Rowling is entangled in that lawsuit with the fan who was publishing a Potterverse encyclopedia…

  100. LondonBoy says:

    I wish I had time to write more, but I’m up to me ears in work today…

    Good luck with the pause/sabbatical/break – whatever, and however long, it turns out to be.

    I have a preference about fan-fic/spin-offs that is slightly prefigured by my own contribution in the last thread: how about fan-fic that works principally with second- and third-tier characters ? First-tier characters can make guest appearances, but not in a way that advances their basic stories. As someone remarked above, this would have the effect of filling in gaps in Alison’s universe without changing it. And it would help us to learn more about (e.g.) Cynthia, Carlos, Audrey, Thea and so on.

    I haven’t really thought this through, but perhaps it’s a useful idea ( or perhaps not, I don’t know ).

    Anyway, whatever happens is good with me. It’ll be great looking forward to a new Bechdel book anyway !

  101. LondonBoy says:

    Oops, in the first line above I obviously mean “my”, not “me”…

  102. Jude says:

    You have an enormous lot of canon for a fanficcer to play with, along with some long-absent characters, and I have to admit that I’d be awfully interested in seeing what your fandom would do in your “absence.” (I saw one really brilliant piece of DTWOF fanfic come through in the Yuletide fanfic event last Xmas.)

    You could potentially post monthly prompts for your fans to run away with (mini-contests, as it were), though that might entail more labor on your part than you want to deal with.

  103. Eva says:

    My first reaction was a moment of incomprehension. No DTWOF for how long? How will I survive without my outlet? However, as a very overworked business-owner I understand the need to take a break and focus, and Fun Home was so incredible and your travel schedule has been so grueling I really do understand your need for time to focus.

    So know that we will all miss you and we will be here for you when you return.

  104. Ian says:

    I could set up a message board for D2WO4 fans if people want me to. I can set it up, but I don’t have the time to maintain it all by myself. Mainly with the idea of supplementing the discussion here (which is what Maoist Orange Cake aimed to do initially), rather than competition.

    The issue of fanfic/fanart is quite scary legally – for AB and for anyone setting up a website as I believe you have to have copyright disclaimers, denials of author approval, etc, etc. Look at any LOTR or HP fan site and you’ll see them all over the place (Aragorn/Frodo slash fic is my particular fave, but you don’t need really need to know that). I’d prefer to hand that section over to someone who knew about that kind of thing.

    I was thinking about sections – a ‘Daily Distress’ for news items worth discussing, a ‘Madwimmin Books’ to discuss all things literary, etc. A ‘Cafe Topaz’ or ‘La Lentille D’Or’ in which to discuss food and swop recipes – a controversial topic on these boards! πŸ˜‰

    What do folks think? I know activists resisted the message board format on this site for a long time, preferring the freeform, contemporaneous discussion found on here.

  105. QKelly says:

    I think some of us are taking the fanfic suggestion far too seriously; there’s no threat to AB or her characters. I’ve been involved in fanfic and (fem)slash communities for years — none of us would dream of taking over from the original artists, let alone trying to muscle in on their copyrights. It’s all in fun; it’s not some sort of hostile takeover. I’ve read a lot on the topic and don’t know of a single case in which an original author/artist has lost legal control of hir work or concepts to fans. (Not that there can’t be cases I don’t know about, of course.) It’s a simple matter to include a disclaimer on a story or website. AB may indeed decide not to allow fanfic on the blog, but if so, it shouldn’t be because of legal fears. She won’t be giving up creative control.

  106. dzieger says:

    I think the term “Fan Fic” is throwing everyone off. If AB is taking a Sabbatical, then the ongoing story arcs are on hiatus. Anything posted on a fan site has the same implications for the actual DTWOF strip as a Warhol print has for my bubbe’s chicken soup recipe. Or, for that matter, the same implications my Andy Warhol-style photoshopping of a portrait of one of my web design clients has for the estate of Marilyn Monroe.

    That’s actually more the kind of thing I’m envisioning anyway. Maybe it’s because it’s the type of thing I’m more likely to pull off, I’m imagining having fun with Adobe software, doing portraits of the characters as they might look if painted by Picasso, or Magritte, or Seurat…

    Okay, I think I’ve actually had a coherent thought: think of the Fan Art / Fic site as the equivalent, or at least the analog, to the DTWOF calendars. Related to the strip, inspired by it, but not _of_ it. Any events that occur are, from the POV of the characters, fictional; little skits we’re helping them put on so that they can express themselves in new and unusual ways. But when all is said and drawn, they get back into their street clothes and return from whence they came.

    Actually, AB’s occasional conceit that the characters are themselves being portrayed by actors who have been known to occasionally go on strike adds another level of existential complexity to the whole affair…

    Perhaps the entire fan site could be presented as the various independent projects pursued by the DTWOF cast and staff during the hiatus. some might attempt to develop predictably lame (or surprisingly successful) spinoffs, others might try to break into animation, or get temp jobs at other comic strips.

    Okay, that’s a bit ambitious (but just try and stop me…).

  107. Wendy says:

    About slash….
    A digression on fan fiction jargon. . . ..
    Slash is NOT only smut (that is, work with graphic sexual content), it is any male/male, or female/female pairing of romantic interest.

    There is so much smutty fan fiction I think it is easy to get confused, but my 14 year old daugher loves slash and avoids smut like the plauge (it’s icky to her) and yet there is plenty of slash for her to read.

  108. ready2agitate says:

    >>It got started in America with female Star Trek fans writing naughty escapades about Kirk and Spock

    omg – this is too much — I am SO out of it – HA!

  109. Aunt Soozie says:

    oh, Ian, I meant no offense. I figured that most of us gave about the same, including you… and that your estimation of what kind of refund we’d be “entitled” to was fairly accurate. That said, I was teasing the person who said that our refunds should be used to send us free copies of Alison’s books… as in, unless you donated a HUGE amount, more than the average bear, your refund, or, as Ian estimated, a few dollars, would barely cover postage, let alone the cost of a book. Sorry if it read as if I thought you were not generous. on the contrary, I was accepting your math as on target for most.

  110. ready2agitate says:

    (And I thought Ian was teasing you back)

  111. Feminista says:

    ready2agitate,don’t worry; I hadn’t heard about slash either. And you know what? I don’t care! I don’t have to know about all the details of pop culture,or substrata thereof. There’s enough information overload as it is,what with the Internet and all.

  112. Mothra in NYC says:

    Hey, Alison,

    I truly will miss DTWOF while you’re on sabbatical; it’ll be rough. I gotta be honest about this. However, you have so much integrity and clearly need to be true to your characters so much that it really is important for you to take this sabbatical. Otherwise you’ll just be very unhappy; we all know you are constitutionally incapable of doing a half-assed job with the strip.


    A request, especially if it turns out that regular blogging also gets to be too much (in which case, I suspect I’ll be checking in less often): whenever there is a major update, such as book releases or the resumption of the regular strip, can you send an e-mail blast to your collective fandom? Is there somewhere we can sign up to be on your mailing list? I’m hoping the software you use to create this site can be set up to do that automatically.

    Thanks for considering it!

  113. Frantic says:

    I’m going to be incredibly selfish, but I’ll use two strong personal connections here to plead my case: I’ve been reading DTWOF since I was 18 – I’m 42 now – and my old boyfriend and I housesat for the woman who used to live in Alison’s Vermont home. Please, please, please tie up some of the dangling storylines before you take a sabbatical.

    I’m already frazzled over the fact the newest installment hasn’t been posted.

    There. I said it.

  114. Mothra in NYC says:

    Hmm. When did I start reading DTWOF? Before I moved to Boston in ’89 … it’s certainly been a long run. We get attached to these characters …

    Inkety dinkety,
    Alison Bechdel
    Creates all those dykes whom we
    All watch out for,

    Riffing on all of their
    Till we shout, “More!”

    (I promised AB a higgledy piggledy after the Sleep Book parody fun, and that’s it, or at least one of them … )

    I have now also made sure I sent in a PayPal donation, so I can officially say: thanks, but please don’t send a refund!

  115. Ian says:

    Don’t worry Aunt Soozie – I was teasing back, just like ready2agitate said. πŸ˜‰

  116. Dr. Empirical says:

    The issue with copyright isn’t that WE might usurp Alison’s copyright, it’s that letting us play around with her characters implies consent for anybody to do it. That weakens her ability to defend the copyright in the event that someone else messes with it in ways that she disapproves of or that threaten her financially. That’s how the law works.

    As a Legion of Super Heroes geek, I’m very familiar with slash fic. Legion geeks have been doing it since the sixties! If I had a dollar for every Invisible Kid Comes Out story I’ve seen, I could retire.

    But most importantly, Alison, do whatever you need to do to maintain your sanity and recover your productivity. We’ll be here when you get back.

  117. Ian says:

    Ok, I’ve channelled the spirit of Jezanna and non-democratically set up a fans message board which can be found at:

    This was all done in a burst of inspiration in a couple of hours this morning. I’ve included a section on fan fiction and art. The board is open for posting but I’ve not written any intros or anything else like that. I’ve just set up a basic structure and design. I can’t think of any other sections that may be wanted right now!

    This really is a work in progress and was put together to show as an example and see if people liked it/the idea.

  118. Aunt Soozie says:

    Ian… oh, uh, duh… and thanks for setting up that site.
    I think we each now owe you $3.42. πŸ™‚

  119. Butch Fatale says:

    Alison, I too will miss the regular installments, and echo the hopes that this will be a break and not an end for DTWOF. But as an avid fan of Fun Home (I gave a copy to my younger sister for Christmas, and am pushing it on all and sundry to the point where I don’t have my own copy at the moment), I am looking forward to your next book. DTWOF is amazing, and has meant so much to me, but I can’t imagine your fans wanting you to feel burdened by it. It’s amazing you’ve done it so long, and that the strip and characters have grown and changed over time. I have a hard time continuing my work on projects started when I was 23, and I am only 26!

    May the road rise up to meet you, etc.

  120. Alex the Bold says:

    Alison. Go. Write. We will wait for you. Forever if need be.

  121. NickelJoey says:

    Mothra! What a great double dactyl! And *two* of the requisite six-syllable words!

    You rock.

  122. chriso says:

    I think taking a break to work on your book makes total sense. No guilt!

    And can I just say how fantastic the artwork is for this guest strip? Great job JT!

  123. Librarian Paul says:


    Your post really brought me to tears — good ones.

    MEMORY LANE: I’ll never forget when you came to Michigan State University — that was a lifetime ago — was it 1993? I was lamely running the event. I convinced the guys at the MSU Union set up chairs for 150 people (huh, lesbian cartoonist?), and all hell broke loose finding chairs for — I don’t know. Several hundred AWESOME women came out in the dead of winter. Couldn’t quiet the crowd down to stammer my introduction — and an AWESOME Butch (sorry if that offends) stood up, WHISTLED, and told the crowd to shut the hell up. Dead silence followed, crickets in background. I was followed by an Archivist from the MSU Archives who has worked on their comic/cartoon collection for years, and is also a lesbian who collects lesbian pulp fiction with her partner. I’m trying to locate her name and such to share with you all. I collapsed against the back wall and let the event roll. Followed by you Alison, your slideshow projected a million feet up on the screen, including that AWESOME birthing scene when Raffi was born — projected about 20 feet high! Amazing presentation was followed by some vendors and a LOT of socializing.

    I forgot to add that before the event you took the time to sit down with us undergrads and do something I’d never seen an adult do — listen — and make no comment, simply — listen to our stories —

    Alison, that event was the highlight of my undergrad years.

    When I’m (codename=”Mo”) on the phone with my friend James (codename=”Lois”) we still scream about that night, and when we were posting up DTWOF fliers (with your pirated artwork, those fliers are still in the University collection with other Alison Bechdel ephemera) we got hit by a a giant wind and 250+ DTWOF fliers exploded in the air and rushed into the night sky. We laugh about that to this day!

    Alison, I think a sabbatical is so wise, there’s much for me to learn from someone making these kinds of life decisions. And, what kind of plot lines might roll around in your head to be ready when you do resume!

    Take care all, and bless you Alison Bechdel —

    prburley at gmail

  124. Juliet says:

    Lovely lovely story Paul. And for what it’s worth considering what everyone else has said, I’ll be here when DTWOF comes back. As for the refund – you gotta be kidding!

    I feel like I’m a little part of history…

    Juliet x

  125. Marj says:

    Alison, I haven’t time to read all of the above right now – but I need to say I concur with the no-refunders. Take the time you need. Having the regular strips by blog has been a real treat – but pre-internet there have been many hiati here in the uk, and I survived. Enjoy!

  126. Fabian Alvarez says:

    Yeah, I agree with the general feeling. I’m sorry to see DTWOF in hyatus, but your happiness and well-being are more important. Fan-fic sounds very interesting; I can’t draw even stick figures to save my life, but I’m quite a decent script-writer, so I’m open to suggestions. I got two story published in Tim Fish’s Young Bottoms in Love series (Anthology 1 now available).

  127. Alexandra says:

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you for all your persistent, thoughtful, obsessive, realistic, kind, nuanced, and much much needed work on DTWOF over the years. While it’s sad not to have it on the tap for a while, it’s also a good reminder of what exactly it is you’ve managed to do over so many years – provide a strip on lesbian (and other carbon life forms) existence that is yet unmatched in any media – and I’m sorry, but the L Word antics are just not real enough, and I doubt they’ll ever be.

    That could be the reason why your regular newspapers have been dwindling – there’s a general feeling that we’ve moved on, that once we have the mainstream TV series, books and book adaptations, we’re out and accepted enough. That there’s no need for a specific, niche look into the dyke psyche, warts and all. That the new media rules over passe, geeky domain of comic strip. Well, I hope they’ll wonder a little since Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis has shown that there’s life in animation after the death of the 2D Disney studios. And now we have to wonder what will our scenescape look like without one of its best kids growing up and making a truthful documentary of the neighbourhood. It’s a different neighbourhood now from when you started out, and it may be time for you to move on. There’s still plenty to be said and done, and done by others, but I’ll be looking forward to your comeback. It will probably rock, in a very different way, after you’ve been through the process of your second memoir and can afford to sit back on your old step with new strength and confidence.

    Do what you have to do. Poke your publishers to come up with a compilation of new voices: fan fic can give room to young lezza blood to develop their own strips, as well as be a great tribute to your work. JT Ford’s strip was excellent – so much so it’s obvious she should be writing her own. And live a little.

    All the best,

  128. Pope Snarky Goodfella OTUC, POEE says:

    Hail Eris!

    Alison: Don’t you _dare_ try to refund the donation I send you next month.;-{P}