Fun Home – Art/Text

After completing Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, I found it to be an incredibly insightful and intriguing read. The autobiography has won many awards, proving it to be accepted and read by many. However, it has also run into issues regarding underlying themes, such as pedophilia, gay and lesbian characters, and nudity. I don’t believe this book has great amounts of pornographic nature. In fact, I think much of what is depicted in drawings is on par with many other books that are taught in school systems. These other books, though, are not comics. I believe the line is drawn early for this book simply because it uses pictures instead of just text. To see an image of homosexuality is somehow worse than reading about it, to many people.

I think this book being drawn adds to every aspect of the story. Bechdel can’t possibly convey the bored and mundane expressions each character holds throughout the entire book through writing. This is something unique to it being drawn. The drawings create uncertainty in the reader. In the beginning, it took me about half a chapter to realize the main character was female. Her hair was short and body undefined, it wasn’t until I read her pronouns that I realized it was a girl. This would be far more difficult to do in writing unless the character was not referred to at all. This comic contains many panels but more than that, it contains an inner dialogue that helps expand it to the reader. It is a perfect combination of writing and pictures, and it allows for extended interpretation.

At the end of the book, there are two pages (220-221) that contained 3 by 4 small panels along each page. It was a conversation, perhaps the first in the book, where Bechdel connected with her father over their gender preference. Although I find it unclear if her father was attracted to very young boys or simply slightly underage men, him and his daughter share a piece of the world that was very unaccepted. The blending between conversation and art in these pages further proved how important the medium is to the story. Their connection is conveyed through choppy, simple squares that then dissipates in the next pages and is never brought up again.

I am a fan of this book and find it to be a very important graphic novel in the list of the ones I’ve read. It brings up difficult and important topics, begging to be discussed in an academic setting without judgments. I don’t agree that it should ever be banned from a school reading list, especially not one in college.

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