Alison Bechdel on Fun Home the Musical, Teaching, and Her Next Book
Elena Seibert Alison Bechdel
The New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU West will host comic strip creator and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 17. At the free event, Bechdel will give a talk, take questions from the audience, and sign books.
Bechdel, whose groundbreaking and award-winning strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For" had a 25-year run, became a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist with her first graphic memoir, Fun Home. She edited Best American Comics 2011 and published her second memoir, Are You My Mother?, in 2012. Bechdel is the recipient of a 2012-2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and last year was a Mellon Residential Fellow for Arts and Practice at the University of Chicago.
In other words, Alison Bechdel's got game.
We had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Bechdel via phone recently.
Your talk here is sponsored by the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which is apt because your work is so interdisciplinary, especially Are You My Mother? What will you be speaking about?
Fun Home, because that's the book the freshmen are reading. That and my career and process in general. There'll be some kind of PowerPoint. It has to be a visual talk because of my crazy process, taking all those pictures and everything.
I've watched the video of you describing how you drew Fun Home more than once. Speaking of Fun Home, what about Fun Home, the musical?
It's so strange and amazing. It just started in rehearsal and will be opening in October. It's been in process for several years and has gone through a lot of changes. I saw a workshop of it last year.
Your mother was an actress. Did she get to see any of it performed? Was she interested?
She did not get to see it; she didn't want to. The creative team didn't want her to see it; they felt it was too raw. She died this spring, so she didn't get to see it, and she won't ever see it, but that's probably just as well. It would have killed her. But, you know, she read the NY Times every day, so she followed it that way, and one day she called and asked if I'd read the piece about the actress who was playing me and I said, "No, Mom, that's the actor playing you." So she had that thrill of reading about it.
What's it like for you to see your work interpreted in yet another medium? Is it a delight?
Well, it is a delight but also very strange. The stage set looks just like my home office; there's this green floor the same color as in my office. It's not like I wrote a piece of fiction and then it was adapted -- it's my life there on the stage.