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The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

(Dykes to Watch Out For)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  8,760 ratings  ·  577 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 tr
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published November 12th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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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 praised Dickens novel was Ha ...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 to lesbian writing, as a
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
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, 2010, lady-lit
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 state o
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 with the p's) funny. Bechdel is ...more
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 &am ...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
David Schaafsma
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-glbt, gn-women, comics
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.

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
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 inf ...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
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 I realized that t
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 juggli
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
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 honestly ...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.
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
Surprising how relevant this still feels.
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
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
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
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-lit
Aww I really liked most of this, although I still prefer the graphic novels. The liberal ranting got a little too Rachel Maddow-level for my tastes. Everyone stop yelling!
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This deserves a proper review. I read this for book club and wasn't expecting to enjoy it that much. Avid followers of my feed will know I read a lot of graphic novels, but I didn't love Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic: I really didn't think it played to the strengths of the medium. Further, I knew that this was a collection of 30 years of comic strips that were published in magazines, so I wasn't expecting any coherency.

I was pleasantly surprised! It's basically a soap opera - there is a "plot"
Tasha Robinson
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Alison Bechdel's collected Dykes to Watch Out For (which she says on her site includes about 75 percent of all the Dykes strips she ever did) came out in 2008, I was excited to finally explore this comic I'd been hearing about for so many years as the seminal indie comic about lesbian life. But when I tried to read it, I stumbled over its wordiness, the huge cast of characters, the far-left political screeds, and just its sheer density in general. And I put it on the shelf, thinking I'd be in the m ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I mostly enjoyed this book. I loved how purely lesbian it was. It was refreshing to read a book where basically every single character was a lesbian (or just LGBT in general); it really makes up for the lack of lesbian characters in other books I read.

I think this comic strip and the lives of these characters are best consumed as initially intended, as in every couple weeks. I don't know if it's just me, but reading 50+ pages at once was kind of overwhelming because so much drama was happening!
Mateen Mahboubi
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A comic that I had never heard about until looking into other Bechdel works, this collection was a joy to read. Pretty dense, it took a while to get through and I admittedly almost gave up partway through and returned it to the library, I'm glad that I stuck through it. This collection covers from the mid-80s to 2008 when Obama was just coming onto the scene. We follow the same characters dealing with three terms of Bushes and a couple uncertain Clinton years, there are many political ups and do ...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)