Alison Bechdel spoke to a Princeton audience Oct. 9.
Ethan Sterenfeld ’20
Finding a career in ‘something I’ve been doing ever since I was a small child’

Alison Bechdel, best known for her book Fun Home, spoke about sharing intimate details of her life in her graphic novels during an Oct. 9 talk to a capacity audience in McCosh 10. “I’m a very shy person, but I have a huge exhibitionist streak,” Bechdel said. She told how, when she revealed to her parents her identity as a lesbian, she discovered that her father was also having homosexual relationships. This became fodder for Fun Home, which was adapted to an award-winning Broadway musical. “I was growing up in a house where things weren’t exactly what they seemed,” she said. “I was already sensing that language could be unreliable and appearances could be deceiving.” 

Bechdel said that she has "somehow managed to make a career out of something I’ve been doing ever since I was a small child,” tracing the development of her career from the diary she kept as a young child. As she grew older, Bechdel tried to hold on to that creative flow. “When I was 7, I wasn’t worried about what The New York Times Book Review would think of my work,” she said.

Bechdel said she began her career at a time when lesbians were underrepresented in culture, but as her career progressed, so did the acceptance of queer culture. “For a long time I defined myself as a lesbian cartoonist,” she said, but she began to wonder, “What if I was just a cartoonist?”

Fun Home will be a senior-thesis production at the Lewis Center for the Arts in February.