Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

the cumulative impact is moving and profound - mature and graceful

Book Review by Gareth K Vile | 12 Dec 2006
Book title: Fun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel is most famous for her syndicated comic strip soap opera 'Dykes to Watch Out For', a gentle and amusing exploration of queer America. Fun Home, however, reflects on her problematic relationship with her father - a far more serious and emotive subject.

Her narrative jumps between times and places, re-interpreting events and meditating on her father's life and personality: the subtle prose and clear artwork gradually reveals the complexity of his character and their relationship. Although her story is neither exploitative nor sensational, the cumulative impact is moving and profound - mature and graceful, it is respectful without flinching from her father's negative qualities.

Bechdel refuses to define her father in simplistic terms - she reflects on his closeted homosexuality, his bad temper and his obsession with home decoration whilst acknowledging his acts of kindness and support. Her relationship to him becomes a metaphor for her own emotional growth, as she grapples with her own sexuality and maturity. The ambiguity of his death, either a suicide or tragic accident, exemplifies his uncertain presence and influence.

Although it shares little with other graphic novels, lacking the snappy wit of 'Dykes...' and the hip observation or historical drama of other autobiographical comics, Fun Home is unique and passionate. Resonant and personal, it represents a distinctive voice celebrating the potential of a marginalised medium. [Gareth K Vile]
Release Date: Out now.
Fun Home is published by Jonathan Cape. Cover Price £12.99 paperback.