Monday, December 23, 2013

Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For

2003, first edition, published by Alyson Books
Alison Bechdel
Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For
Bought new for $13.95
Slightly worn paperback

Well, it turns out that getting a Republican in the White House again was good for the strip, as this is the best collection in a long time.  As the title and cover art indicate, Bechdel continues to expand her world beyond just lesbians, since in the molecule-like structure, we see not only Sparrow's Stuart and Toni & Clarice's son Raffi, but also Jezanna's live-in father and Lois's "tranny fag VW mechanic."  (Plus one of Mo's female cats and a tofu package.)  As Bechdel says in her introduction, where she looks back at 20 years of cartooning, "You don't have to be a lesbian, in the technical sense, to want to do something about" all the forms of prejudice, "you just have to be human.  Or at the very least, a carbon-based life-form."

There's some good, funny stuff about the crazy 2000 election, and a touching wordless strip about 9/11.  But it's not just the politics/world events.  I like what Bechdel does as she moves the characters along, adapting to change even as they bump up against 40.  Probably the most dramatic change is Sparrow's, as she becomes accidentally pregnant by Stuart and decides to go through with it, while still trying to shock her parents (whose last name is Pidgeon, sort of a pun) with her living situation.  Mo starts library school, and struggles with her assumptions when she thinks Lois is transitioning to "Louis."  And Ginger gets a new girlfriend, one with a genderqueer 10-year-old son who likes to dress up as Hermione.  (I loved bearded Stuart bonding with the kid by playing Hagrid!)

The bonus story this time is "Replicants," which focuses on the Pidgeons' visit as well as Mo and Sydney's stay with the latter's dad and stepmom.  I don't think Toni, Clarice, and Raffi appear there, but their lives are settling down a bit, once Clarice gets over her post-election depression.

The next title is less futuristic, more of a throwback, Invasion of the Dykes to Watch For in 2005....

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