Alison Bechdel,

Alison Bechdel,

A weeklong electronic journal.
March 30 1998 3:30 AM

Alison Bechdel,

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

26000_26209_day1

     It's mud season in Vermont. I slept with my window open for the first time last night and woke at dawn to a sporadic, plaintive howl echoing down from the ridge across the road. At first it sounded like an owl, but I think it was probably a coyote. I stuck my head outside to hear better. The smell of melting snow, the sound of the brook starting to run underneath the ice, and the high, gray clouds moving east were all very stirring. I had an urge to do something momentous, like get right up and begin the graphic novel I'm always telling everyone I want to write. Or something primal, like go outside in just my boots to chop wood. But the moment passed, and I went back to bed.      Mom called in the afternoon. She got my new book just yesterday. There's a piece in it that I did years ago about coming out, and I never showed it to her because it has this brief, one-panel masturbation scene in it. That's not so interesting in itself. What's interesting is that I included a marginal comment in the book that mentions my nervousness about my mother finally seeing this scene.      So the first thing she says is, "I wasn't bothered by the thing you thought I would be. But that other stuff! Wow!" She was shocked by a one-page cartoon I did about the time my cousin exposed himself to me when I was 8. It wasn't as if she didn't already know about it--I told her the story years ago. So I asked her what her concern was, and she said she was worried that people in the family would see it. For a nanosecond, I panicked too. Then I said, so what if they do? It was only the truth. She thought about it and laughed nervously. Then she said maybe I was right, and what was the point of keeping these guys' secrets?      She even said she thought I was doing good work and that she admired how honest I was. It was a nice exchange, one of those odd moments that I don't know quite what to do with, when she says the kind of thing you always hope your mother will say but never does.      In the evening, I got a call from a newspaper in Vancouver, British Columbia, that's going to press tomorrow morning and hasn't received my latest batch of strips yet. For a brief, delicious moment, I didn't think there was anything I could do about it. I told the guy I could have overnighted the art if he'd have let me know sooner but that it was too late now. Then he asked if I could fax it, and I realized that although the strips wouldn't fax legibly, I could scan and e-mail them. It's taking a while for the full potential of my new scanner to dawn on me.      After several phone calls and some experimenting to get the art saved in a format he could read, it finally worked. And although it was exciting to be able to transmit my comic strip across the continent instantaneously, how convenient was it, really? If I hadn't had the technology, I wouldn't have wasted my Sunday evening fussing with it. On this same note, I just saw a commercial for FedEx saying it now delivers on Sundays. Is there no rest for the weary?

Alison Bechdel writes and draws the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which appears in over 60 publications. Her latest book, The Indelible Alison Bechdel: Confessions, Comix, and Miscellaneous Dykes to Watch Out For, is hot off the press.