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Alison Bechdel comic pane timeline

A Short History of Alison Bechdel’s Iconic Career (in Comics)

Peruse some major milestones in the career of cartoonist & graphic novelist Alison Bechdel—through comics, of course!


Bechdel’s now-iconic comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For is first published and will run for the next 25 years.

DTWOF is the first major lesbian comic publication and is monumentous in the LGBTQIA+ community, eventually winning a Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT fiction.

The witty column reflects on current events, political issues, sexuality, and relationships.

“One Enchanted Evening” is the first DTWOF comic ever published. Many of the strips are now archived on Bechdel’s website, and compiled in the book The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For.

DTWOF Comic Alison Bechdel 1985


In a 1985 DTWOF comic called “The Test,” one of Bechdel’s characters explains a rule she has for watching movies: she will not watch a movie that doesn’t feature at least two women, who must also talk about a subject other than a man. The wittiscm reflects the reality of film & media, where female characters are underrepresented and given male-centric dialogues.

The Bechdel test becomes a feminist academic term taught across universities. The phenomenon has since been the subject of countless research papers and cultural discoursen. In Sweden, moviegoers are even informed of whether the film they are going to watch passes the Bechdel test or not.

DTWOF "The Rule" comic by Alison Bechdel


Bechdel publishes her first graphic novel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, an autobiographical work about growing up with her English-teaching, home-restoring, funeral home-directing father; discovering & understanding her sexuality; and the complexities of her relationship with her father before & after his death.

The work becomes a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won an Eisner award for best reality-based work. In 2015, Fun Home is adapted into a Broadway musical, which becomes a Pulitzer Prize finalist and wins a variety of “best” titles at the Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Comic pane from Alison Bechdel's FUN HOME


Six years after Fun Home, Bechdel releases her second autobiographical graphic novel, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama.

This work is a companion piece to Fun Home, chronicling her relationship with her mother and psychotherapy, intertwining references to to authors like Virginia Woolf and psychoanalysts Alice Miller and Donald Winnicott.


Bechdel publishes her third graphic memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. Her latest book journeys through her six decades of life, her evolving dedication to different fitness routines, and an exploration of transcendentalist philosophies.

Comic pane from The Secret to Superhuman Strength Alison Bechdel

And in 2022 …

Bechdel will join us in Buffalo at Just Buffalo Literary Center’s BABEL author series. Get your tickets here and be there to hear her speak at Kleinhans on March 16th.

BABEL - Alison Bechdel - March 16 2022 - Just Buffalo Literary Center

Bechdel Test comic strip and information source: https://lithub.com/read-the-1985-comic-strip-that-inspired-the-bechdel-test
Biography source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alison-Bechdel