Archive for Fun Home

This, That and the Other

I got a whole big bucket of stuff I wanna talk about today, and comics reviews ain’t even a one of ’em.



They’ve announced the cast for the rebooted Fantastic Four movie. And for the most part, my lone reaction is a colossal shrug — I’m not very good at mass-media consumption anymore, and I didn’t recognize the names of any of the actors. But what’s really got certain members of the racist douchebucket fanboy brigade up in arms is that Johnny Storm is going to be played by Michael B. Jordan, a black actor.

There are two proper reactions to this: braying mockery or really excellent commentary examining race in the comics.

Ultimately, this is about smart casting — Jordan is a well-respected actor, it gets the movie a quick pop of controversy, thanks to the never-shutting-up racist population, and it gives comic book movies the opportunity to grow out of the These-Are-Only-For-White-People niche they’ve been locked into for too long.



A bunch of bigots in the South Carolina legislature actually want to cut funds from a university for suggesting students read Alison Bechdel’s brilliant “Fun Home” graphic novel.

One of the legislators, a Republican from Greenville, SC named Garry Smith said, “One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt.”

And one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if you find a moralizing Republican lawmaker in South Carolina, you’re pretty damn certain to find out that he spends his free time having sex with barnyard animals. All it takes is enough patient research into Rep. Smith’s background.



I’m looking forward to the next week or so here in Denton — it’s the beginning of GeeKon, a celebration of all things geeky and awesome. It’s mostly geared toward college students, but I hope I can enjoy some of the events without anyone complaining too much about the middle-aged fat guy in the crowd.

I’ll probably end up missing out on a lot of events — some of the film screenings will be taking place during work hours, and some of the other events are really geared so strongly toward geeks in their 20s that I think I’d feel much too awkward being in the audience — but I’m really looking forward to the UNT Comics Studies Conference, which focuses on academic approaches to comics.

And finally…


Greg Abbott is a dillweed.

A racist, sexist, homophobic, cowardly dillweed.

When I take over this state, Greg Abbott is going to get escorted to the nearest state line and told to get out and not come back.

And when it comes to the nearest state line, I intend to start measuring from Galveston.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Fun Home

Time to take another look at my annual holiday gift recommendations. Sure, you could go pick out any random comic book for the comic fan in your life and call it a present… or you could try to find them something that’ll really impress them with your gift-giving mojo.

Today, let’s talk about Fun Home.

Fun Home” is cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s memoir of her childhood and her memories of her father. Bechdel was, prior to this book, best known as the creator of the “Dykes to Watch Out For” comic strip. And like her comic strip, “Fun Home” is meant for grownups. It addresses, very frankly and seriously, themes about homosexuality, gender, suicide, dysfunctional families, mental illness, and much more. Don’t get this for your ten-year-old and try to blame me for it. Get this for the serious grownup comics reader in your life who’s looking for something smart and outside of the mainstream.

What’s it about? Well, you’ve got Alison, her siblings, her mom, and her dad, Bruce. They all live in a big Victorian house in Pennsylvania. Bruce is an English teacher and runs the local funeral home — the title of the book comes from the family’s joking nickname for the funeral home. Bruce was a dead-serious man, often angry, a rabid reader and book-collector, equal parts artistic and practical, obsessed with rebuilding the family home into perfect, pristine condition. He seemed to see his family as free labor to help him fix up the house. He died when Alison was almost 20, not long after she’d come out to the family as a lesbian, and only weeks after his wife announced she wanted a divorce. Alison believes his death was a suicide, though it could have been an accident.

All that, plus Bruce Bechdel was hiding one heck of a secret, too.


The art style is really cool — part cartoonish, part realistic, with beautifully rendered backgrounds and details. Alison actually took photos of herself posing as each character so she could use them as references when she illustrated it. If you haven’t heard me say it before, good cartooning is more engaging and more emotionally affecting than more realistic artwork any day of the week, and that’s doubly true for “Fun Home.” Even if you don’t like all the characters, you want to learn more and more about them.

I think this is a book you should read, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Back in 2006, Time magazine named it their best book of the year. Not the best comic book — the best book, period. Salon called it their best nonfiction debut, the New York Times, Amazon, New York magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Times of London all put it on their best books lists. It won an Eisner, Entertainment Weekly put it on their “New Classics” list, and the Guardian put it in a list of “1000 Novels Everyone Must Read.”

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. Go pick it up.

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