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The Comics of Alison Bechdel - From the Outside In

The Comics of Alison Bechdel

From the Outside In

Edited by Janine Utell
Series: Critical Approaches to Comics Artists Series
Tom Inge Series on Comics Artists

Hardcover : 9781496825773, 282 pages, 46 b&w illustrations, December 2019
Paperback : 9781496825780, 282 pages, 46 b&w illustrations, December 2019

The first critical volume on a crucial voice in comics


Contributions by Michelle Ann Abate, Leah Anderst, Alissa S. Bourbonnais, Tyler Bradway, Natalja Chestopalova, Margaret Galvan, Judith Kegan Gardiner, Katie Hogan, Jonathan M. Hollister, Yetta Howard, Katherine Kelp-Stebbins, Don L. Latham, Vanessa Lauber, Katherine Parker-Hay, Anne N. Thalheimer, Janine Utell, and Susan R. Van Dyne

Alison Bechdel is both a driver and beneficiary of the welcoming of comics into the mainstream. Indeed, the seemingly simple binary of outside/inside seems perpetually troubled throughout the career of this important comics artist, known for Fun Home, Are You My Mother?, and Dykes to Watch Out For. This volume extends the body of scholarship on her work from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.

In a definitive collection of original essays, scholars cover the span of Bechdel’s career, placing her groundbreaking early work within the context of her more well-known recent projects. The contributors provide new insights on major themes in Bechdel’s work, such as gender performativity, masculinity, lesbian politics and representation, trauma, life writing, and queer theory.

Situating Bechdel among other comics artists, this book charts possible influences on her work, probes the experimental traits of her comics in their representations of kinship and trauma, combs archival materials to gain insight into Bechdel’s creative process, and analyzes her work in community building and space making through the comics form.

Ultimately, the volume shows that Bechdel’s work consists of performing a series of selves—serializing the self, as it were—each constructed and refracted across and within her chosen artistic modes and genres.


"The Comics of Alison Bechdel: From the Outside In sheds light on how the artist has shown LGBT and mainstream readers new ways to understand human connection. . . . Occasional jargon can be tough to digest, but the essays overall offer well-researched takes on this superlative comics artist, and identify fresh areas for future study. "

- Rosemary Booth, The Gay & Lesbian Review

"The entire book is useful, but the latter two essays, and their images, alone make the collection necessary for those interested in comics, gender, and sexuality studies. "


"The impact of Alison Bechdel’s work is difficult to overestimate, yet there are no studies to date that focus entirely on her work. This timely collection aims to fill this gap. It provides a thorough investigation of Bechdel’s work, its genesis, and reception and makes a distinct contribution to the existing scholarship on comics by focusing on the full range and breadth of Bechdel’s work."

- Heike Bauer, author of The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture

"In its entirety, The Comics of Alison Bechdel brilliantly functions in correlation with Bechdel’s works: the several chapters chart intersections between Bechdel’s diverse oeuvre and the dynamic relations in and between them, suggesting “closure” yet ultimately defying it. . . . . The Comics of Alison Bechdel fills the gap in existing scholarship on Alison Bechdel and points out how her comics may be read and reread anew"

- Małgorzata Olsza, ALH Online Review

"The Comics of Alison Bechdel makes a significant contribution to the study of comics in American culture. Furthermore, since this volume is part of University Press of Mississippi’s Critical Approaches to Comics Artists series, it also solidifies Bechdel’s well-deserved place in the canon of American comics artists."

- Kirsten Møllegaard, Journal of American Culture

"These chapters give a glimpse into the current state of Bechdel scholarship and serve as a solid foundation for future works, such as Bechdel’s most recent publication The Secret to Superhuman Strength and the film adaptation of Fun Home. Importantly, The Comics of Alison Bechdel: From the Outside In serves as a necessary contribution to the Critical Approaches in Comic Artists Series hosted by the University Press of Mississippi, to what this reader hopes is a beginning for the series in examining the works of less mainstream grassroot and queer comic writers."

- Noah Mullens, ImageText