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Fun Home

Page history last edited by Matthew Schroeder 8 years, 6 months ago

Creator: Alison Bechdel

Original Date(s) of Publication: June 8th, 2006

 

 

 

Fun Home is a comic by author Alison Bedchel. In the comic, Bedchel tells the story of coming to grips with the life and death of her father . In addition she also describes her childhood, home life, and her sexuality as well. This comic is not only about the life and death of Bedchel's father, it is also about Bedchel herself. Bedchel does not describe the book as merely a story about her father, she calls the book a memoir about him.  This is obvious throughout the work from the very first page.

 

 

 

Significant Features

 

Rather than going with a more traditional comic style where the story is told primarily through the words in the panels themselves, Bedchel chose to have her own reflections placed somewhere on the border of every individual panel. The comic is illustrated primarily in black and white with green and blue colors throughout.  Character designs are simple while still being distinct.  The tone is something more akin to a nonfiction book or an autobiography than an omniscient narrator telling readers what they need to know.

 

Major Themes

Fun Home deals with a variety of themes such as homosexuality, facades versus actuality , and the influence of literature on one's thinking. A significant amount of time is spent discussing not only Bechdel's sexuality, but her father's hidden homosexuality as well as his affairs with other men while married to Bechdel's mother. This idea of hidden truths is brought into even closer focus when Bechdel mentions her childhood. She frequently mentions her father's preoccupation with everything looking perfect and his interest in F. Scott Fitzgerald, going so far as to compare him to Jay Gatsby and describing both of her parents using literary metaphors and allegories.

Bechdel makes it clear that literature and books were very important to her father, which impacted her childhood as a result. Bechdel gives a very clear written and pictorial description of her father's library and refers back to the library on multiple occasions throughout the book. In addition, Bechdel's father is often drawn with a book in his hand, usually a different book than in the previous panel.  Bechdel also makes clear that Fitzergerald's work influenced her father greatly, both his biography and body of work itself.  The fact that Bechdel herself uses one of Fitzgerald's characters to describe her father shows that her father's love of literature influenced her as well, thus the role and influence of literature is clearly seen throughout the work. This influence is clear not only in the contents of the work itself, but also by the fact that the author's word choice and narrative flow in the panel borders is more similar to something you would read in a novel, it tells the story eloquently, rather than expecting the visual elements to speak for themselves.

Homosexuality is another theme frequently seen in this work. This not only relates to Bechdel, who is a lesbian herself, but also to her father who hid his homosexuality from his wife and children. Bechdel makes it clear in Fun Home that she had no idea about her father's secret until she was an adult herself.  The theme of facades versus reality plays a role here as well, as there is a very clear distinction between the way Bechdel chose to handle her sexuality, by coming out and facing reality, versus her father who chose to hide behind a facade of heterosexuality. This impulse to make everything look presentable is not only a personality quirk of her father but also something that was necessary for his job. He was an undertaker at his family's funeral home, which Bechdel and the rest of her family referred to as " Fun Home", the namesake of the book. The idea that her father was supposed to make something unpleasant presentable and almost beautiful is something that the author comes back to more than once.

these two themes, homosexuality and facades,  are brought out most clearly in the beginning of the book when Bechdel discusses her childhood. Bechdel goes into great detail on how focused her father was on appearance and presentation, making clear that he was passionate about interior design and aesthetics to an almost absurd degree.   Although there are suggestions that something is wrong, her father is seen cursing at the family, Bechdel waits to reveal the most disturbing piece of information. This disturbing piece of information is that her father slept with teenage boys. She chooses to tell the reader this information in a panel that shows the family going to mass. This highlights this contrast in the highest degree possible. Although these are some of the major themes, it is clear that the themes are handled in complex ways, which inevitably contributed to the amount of attention the book has received.

 

Awards

This work won an Eisner award in 2007 for best reality-based work.

 

References

 

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_07win.shtml

http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/booksellers/press_release/bechdel/

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

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