8 Worthy Successors to Alison Bechdel


So you love Alison Bechdel, but you’ve read everything she’s ever written. What’s a graphic memoir lover to do? Well, read some more, of course. Tomorrow marks the release of Nicole Georges’ engaging first graphic memoir, Calling Dr. Laura , a book that is sure to appeal to anyone who loves Bechdel’s work, or just likes smart writing that packs an emotional punch. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a list of worthy “successors” to Alison Bechdel (but really, just similar writers, since we’re hoping she isn’t done yet) that will have any fan neck deep in good books for the foreseeable future. After the jump, check out our picks, and as always, if we missed your favorite, help us out in the comments.

Nicole Georges

Chicken-raising Portland zinester Nicole Georges’ first memoir, Calling Dr. Laura , is akin to Bechdel’s work both in spirit and talent. Secrets abound here — over the course of the book, Georges finds out the truth about her father (alive, says a psychic), and tells her mother the truth about herself (she’s gay). Father issues and sexuality? Sounds like someone else we know — and in fact, Bechdel herself has thrown her hat into the ever-growing ring of Georges-admirers, describing the memoir as “disarming and haunting, hip and sweet, all at once.”

Ellen Forney

If you’re from Seattle, you probably recognize Forney’s work from The Stranger. And even if not, we’re betting you’ve seen it — whether in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or in her new memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, in which she examines her own bipolar disorder with and against the mood disorders of other famous artists from Vincent van Gogh to Sylvia Plath. Funny and deeply serious at once, it’s a must for anyone who’s ever felt a little crazy.

Photo Credit: Dale Langdon

Leela Corman

Corman is not exactly a new face in comics — her book Queen’s Day won her a Xeric Award in 1999 — and nor is she (at least so far) a graphic memoirist. But we think her indelibly true-feeling stories and fantastic art land her squarely on this list — if for nothing else, than for last year’s Unterzakhn (Yiddish for “Underthings”), an immigrant story set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century that hits as hard as any true story.

Julia Wertz

Wertz is the author of two graphic memoirs, 2010’s Drinking at the Movies and last fall’s The Infinite Wait and Other Stories , the latter made up of three autobiographical vignettes. In the eponymous story, Wertz recounts her move to San Francisco, being diagnosed with systemic lupus at 20, and the way it led her to comics and to her life today. Heartfelt but not sticky-sweet, wry but not bitter, we think you’ll like her.

Mary Talbot

Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes is accomplished scholar Talbot’s first foray into the graphic format, and it trickily manages to be both her own coming-of-age story and that of Lucia Joyce, James Joyce’s daughter. Exploring family, gender dynamics, and humanity, this book is for anyone who ever saw themselves in someone they had only read about. We hope she writes more.

Sarah Leavitt

Canadian writer and cartoonist Sarah Leavitt’s graphic memoir about her mother dying of Alzheimer’s, Tangles , was published in the US last May. Filled with all the black humor and deep sadness familiar to anyone who has watched a loved one succumb to this illness, Leavitt’s first book is vivid, well-crafted, and moving.

Laurie Sandell

Again, Sandell is not exactly a newcomer on the scene, but, like Bechdel, she has built a career on peeling back the pieces of her father. A piece she published in Esquire in 2003 became 2009’s graphic memoir The Impostor’s Daughter, which in turn led to her being approached to write the authorized biography of another family who didn’t know their patriarch: Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family. Talk about dealing with your daddy issues.

Gabrielle Bell

Already of our favorite alternative cartoonists, Bell’s recent “real-time” memoir The Voyeurs cements her place as one of the genre’s contemporary masters. Incisive and playful all at once, we guarantee you won’t be able to resist her work.