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The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

(Dykes to Watch Out For)

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  9,614 ratings  ·  654 reviews
From the author of Fun Home -- the lives, loves, and politics of cult fav characters Mo, Lois, Sydney, Sparrow, Ginger, Stuart, Clarice, and others

For twenty-five years Bechdel’s path-breaking Dykes to Watch Out For strip has been collected in award-winning volumes (with a quarter of a million copies in print), syndicated in fifty alternative newspapers, and translated int
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published November 12th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Natalia There were three trans characters that I remember. One trans man, one gender nonconforming dyke, and one teenage trans girl. Both of the binary trans …moreThere were three trans characters that I remember. One trans man, one gender nonconforming dyke, and one teenage trans girl. Both of the binary trans characters were misgendered and dead named a couple of times. In the sense of... "wait so x is called y now? He.. I mean she.. is doing z." In general the book is comprised of a lot of very vocal political opinions in the day-to-day lives of this primarily lesbian community. The comics depict some of the characters being assholes, who generally are told they're being stupid like with other opinions they give that are judgmental. I think overall... it's a very real depiction of people who don't have all the answers and proper conceptions of trans rights, but aren't hateful. But that's just my perspective as a society-thinks-i'm-cis non-binary femme, so I don't know how you'll feel about it. I do think that the twitter thread the other commenter shared is overly critical, but there are certainly good points made.

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Paul Bryant
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody
Alison Bechtel’s Fun Home was regarded by the big gorgonzolas of modern literature as probably the best book since the New Testament, but I was profoundly underwhelmed. I was an ingrate. I couldn’t care less and I said so. Now I find, years later, that I’d come at Ms Bechtel completely the wrong way. Fun Home was like being introduced to Woody Allen by watching Midnight in Paris – who would ever think that fool director could have made Manhattan or Husbands and Wives ? Or as if the most widely p ...more
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I confess to having little interest in lesbian writing and graphic novels. As a male, I find it hard to connect with text that is processing an anger directed at my gender (i.e. me) simply for having been born a male.
I don't disagree with the need for the anger - the patriarchy tends to screw things up - but it doesn't make the work inviting. It's like reading Frantz Fanon's Black Skin White Masks. Its an amazing work, but as a pasty guy it's hard not to take parts of it personally.
And, back t
Dec 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comic-strips
First, an Alison Bechdel story. Last year at the NYC Comic Con, Bechdel was signing copies of Fun Home, and Mulzer and I stood in line to get our copy signed. As she was adding a quick drawing to the title page, I told Bechdel how I had bought three volumes of her "Dykes to Watch Out For" to share with the students of the GSA I'd started at my high school in the Bronx. Every one had been borrowed and never returned, so she could be happy knowing that her work must be very appreciated by my stude ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Love is a many gendered thing, pal. Get used to it."

I can honestly say, after spending almost 400 pages with these people, I know them better than any "comic book" characters I've ever met. They are bright, funny, committed to saving the environment, strong supporters of civil rights, and they DO SOMETHING about their beliefs. They attend rallies and protests. They go to work for "worthy cause" organizations. They don't just sit at home reading books like I do.

This is a (mostly) all-girl soap o
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lady-lit, 2010, lgbtqia
The lesbian soap opera that preceded The L Word is, unsurprisingly, much better. Bechdel's sense of humor is all over the histrionics of her hyper-learned and hyper self-aware characters, but there are also serious and important conversations to be found here.

The collection is overwhelming in scope: 20 years in the lives of seven women, with major and minor recurring supporting characters coming in and out of their world. Their many romantic affairs and infidelities share the focus with the sta
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having read and totally loved Alison Bechdel's two graphic (as in graphic novel) memoirs, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?, I absolute had to go and read everything she's written. It's not enough but it's wonderful. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For is a collection of her Dykes to Watch Out For strip. Selections have been chosen from over 25 years of work. We follow the lives of a group of friends. The stories are personal, political, philosophical, poignant, and (enough w ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, gn-women, gn-glbt
Never read this "essential" collection, but have read several of the individual volumes, and once upon a time, even read some of the strips as they came out in various cities I lived in around the U.S. This is a great collection, taking some of the best from all the strips over the many, many years, and all the volumes that no one knows where to start… so this a great selection, with a terrific comic essay as an introduction, reflecting back on the all the years of this pretty monumental work.

This is fabulous! Alison Bechdel's drawing already delights me to no end, and the twisting, turning sagas of Mo, Lois, Clarice, Ginger, Toni, et al. add icing of awesome to my intense enchantment with her work. Although Mo is seriously pretty annoying in the beginning, how could I not stick around to see what happened to all of these lovely, well-rounded, 100% fleshed-out, believable and warm and real people? The house that Sparrow, Lois, and Ginger live in together! The evolution of Clarice & T ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
A historically important classic that does not age well and is a fair slog to get through. Moments of humor are not significant enough distractions from the repeating of old politics and current events that are no longer current. The drama is mostly based on everyone having affairs, and events repeat so often, cyclically (to match publication to time of year) that there is little real story. For how progressive the worldview, the comics style is crowded and cramped in that ugly 60-70's look, ult ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR joins my pantheon of queer favs. For the last month, a few pages a day, I felt so at home fully immersed in the lives of these dykes, which spanned 20 years! Bechdel writes the crew—messy in their love and political affairs—with so much humor, which is both self-critical and directed out at the perpetual garbage fire of American politics unfolding around them. Love Bechdel’s description of her comic as “half op-ed column and half endless serialized Victorian novel” — captu ...more
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for any fan of Alison Bechdel's more well known later works Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?.

I became enraptured with the lives of cantankerous, opinionated Moe and her friends after randomly discovering this excellent comic strip in "The Village Voice" many years ago when Bechdel was still writing it. It was an amazing window into feminist and lesbian culture that told honest stories in a way anyone could relate to. I think it was probably the first time
Three and a half stars. Not something I would usually read, this deals with the lives and loves of a group of LGBTQ adults in a small city somewhere in the US. I did really enjoy the stories, I just found it hard to read due to the format. It was a comic strip that run for roughly twenty years and other than Calvin and Hobbs I don’t really read comic strips. But once I settled in I really enjoyed it. This is detailed. Every strip has so much going on, little vignettes looking at the political an ...more
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
How spectacular to finally find nearly all of Dykes to Watch Out For in one volume (there are omissions, but not very many, and the exclusions were carefully chosen so as not to disrupt plot lines). Alison Bechdel hits the perfect balance of lovingly depicting her community and its concerns, exploring the inner lives of her characters, while also cheerfully skewering political posturing, blind spots, and self-righteousness. Her drawings are playful (check out the endlessly amusing t-shirt slogan ...more
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
believe it or not, i had never read "dykes to watch out for" before. i mean, i'd seen a strip or two in my day, but that's it. so i check this 400-pound behemoth (not the entire collection, but close) out of the library & spent alike a week plowing through it. fabulous! can't recommend it enough. the only reason it got four stars instead of five is because i found mo so insufferable, & all the couples cheating on one another over the years, while perhaps realistic, made me have a few infidelity- ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comix, memoir, fiction
How does this manage to be both nostalgic and relevant at the same time?
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, owned, graphic-novel
This is such a great way to get better acquainted with this comic - the choice of strips forms a coherent sprawling narrative and at the same time, individual strips are often brilliant on their own. There's so much lovingly rendered messiness, and the characters feel so real. It's very funny, but sad and potentially painful as well (there's a trans kid narrative that feels very real but also features a parent making a lot of mistakes before getting it right, for instance) - but what I loved esp ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a fun read! After reading both of Bechdel's graphic memoirs a couple of years ago, I was psyched to read her comic strip. The recent Genius Grant award prompted me to finally get around to it.

What I like most about Bechdel's work is her ability to illustrate macro socio/political things through super relatable domestic scenes. She has a great sense of humor and a highly developed sense of situational irony. Every page of DTWOF fires on all cylinders simultaneously and the juggling act is br
Jul 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic
Alison Bechdel's distilled collection of her comic strip spanning 20 years is a tricky one to rate numerically. As a weekly comic strip, it's top notch, managing the rare combination of being both intensely funny at times and presenting characters that the reader comes to really care about. As a collection it's wonderful to see the strip evolve over the course of years in a way that is rarely so evident in comics - the characters age, the political and social events of the time are a constant un ...more
Laura I.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Surprising how relevant this still feels.
Nay Keppler
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I didn't make it all the way through this because it's MASSIVE and I had it on inter-library loan, but I will definitely make my way back to this. If you identify as a lesbian, this is a must read. I was hesitant to read this because I had tried to get through Fun Home once and it wasn't for me, but this is just the perfect collection of stories that are so comical in their realness. You WILL find yourself in one of these characters if you are a queer woman. Reading it was therapeutic and I hone ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fun binge read - I felt like I was one of the gang after a while. I liked the way Bechdel pokes affectionate fun at her characters earnest radicalism. Kind of a lesbian Doonesbury. I'm probably about the same age as the characters, so I remember all those minute political details from the 1990's. I wish Bechdel would bring them back so we can see how they're doing in middle age (maybe grandparents!) during the Trump era. ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
After reading and loving every single panel of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, her National Book Critics Award finalist, I jumped on the Bechdel-bandwagon and queued myself up for this recently published 400-page hardback collecting the greatest hits of her long-running series. I first heard of this strip years back; although I didn’t get to read it as it was published in alternative rags that I neither read nor subscribed to. Humorously enough, I did co-opt the title as a catch-phrase whenever r ...more
I followed "Dykes to Watch Out For" from the time it first appeared in Minneapolis' Equal Time newspaper in 1987 all the way until Alison Bechdel terminated the strip in 2008. I used to buy the paperback collections (from the now defunct Firebrand Books) as soon as they became available – counting The Indelible Alison Bechdel there were twelve, total. Though Alison started the strip in 1982, it was in 1987 that she developed the regular cast we all know and love: Mo, Lois, Clarice, Toni, Ginger, ...more
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read something for so long you felt like you were friends with the characters? I used to read all of the DTWOF books and would be so pleased when I came across one in a alternative newspaper. Reading this was like catching up with old friends.. I knew the first 2/3rds of the book.. but I will admit that after 2002 I dropped them off my radar.. so the last 1/3 was completely new to me. I think Bechdel's drawings are so rich and interesting. Her style has changed, the characters have ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
intoxicating, world-building, celebratory, complex ! ! i love feeling immersed in community, politics, context, and culture <3 <3
Oct 31, 2020 added it
So sad it’s over! I love these people and want to stay in touch with them. A delightful alternate reality to real life dykes to watch out for aka my entire social world. I love the way Alison Bechdel represents every character with affection and sympathy, no matter their foibles or political positions of the moment. Feels like she has love for our whole beautiful, nutty queer community, and made me feel loved within it. I am surprised and happy to find that this book has stood the test of time s ...more
I really loved this! Though I started to like it less and it got more depressing after the Bush election (but I guess that's just real life). ...more
I just feel kinda Meh about this one. I think most of it is just that I couldn't connect with the characters, although judging by the reviews that might not be a problem with the book as much as by the fact that I don't have a lot in common with them. They're way older than me, so a lot of the issues they faced (marriage, divorce, kids, aging parents, finding jobs, etc) are not ones that I really relate to. Also, a lot of its power (from what I can tell) is from its social and political commenta ...more
Todd N
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommendation from The New York Times Book Review podcast from someone, I think from Pahrul Sehgal, who said that she rereads it every year. I found a copy used at Logos (RIP) in Santa Cruz.

[[[Aside: Hearing what Ms. Sehgal was reading on the NYT Book Review podcast was the best part. I wish she would get back on the podcast again.]]]

This is all I have ever wanted from life -- to belong to an fringey but loving group of bohemians with their own loosely defined subculture like the one portrayed
Darran Mclaughlin
Oct 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: woman, graphic-novel, lgbt
An epic collection of Bechdel's comic strip about the lives of a group of lesbian friends which ran from 1983 to 2008. Bechdel herself describes it as "half op-ed column and half endless, serialized Victorian novel" which sums it up well. One of the most interesting aspects of this collection is the way you see the narrative responding to current affairs as they occur. This distinguishes it from an epic novel covering the same period, which would be marked by a sense of hindsight. It is more lik ...more
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Alison Bechdel is an American cartoonist. Originally best known for the long-running comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, in 2006 she became a best-selling and critically acclaimed author with her graphic memoir Fun Home.

Other books in the series

Dykes to Watch Out For (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #1)
  • More Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #2)
  • New, Improved! Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #3)
  • Dykes to Watch Out For: The Sequel (DtWOF, #4)
  • Spawn of Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #5)
  • Unnatural Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #6)
  • Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #7)
  • Split-Level Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #8)
  • Post Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #9)
  • Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life Forms to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #10)

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