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The Comics of Alison BechdelFrom the Outside In$
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Janine Utell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496825773

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496825773.001.0001

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Servants to What Cause

Servants to What Cause

Illustrating Queer Movement Culture through Grassroots Periodicals

(p.214) Servants to What Cause
The Comics of Alison Bechdel

Margaret Galvan

University Press of Mississippi

Through these characters and the broad range of The Advocate’s intended audience, Bechdel is able to reflect on subjects of relevance to the gay community at large—like AIDS and associated activism—that often don’t make it into the strips of the fairly idyllic world of DTWOF. By analyzing Servants to the Cause, the chapter not only unravels its narrative structure and grassroots contexts, but also examines the production of the strip itself through drafts of the comic and letters that Bechdel exchanged with her editor at The Advocate. In this analysis and in research across the essay, the chapter draws upon grant-funded archival research of Alison Bechdel’s papers held in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, Firebrand Book Records held in the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University, and periodicals collections at the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives. To connect Bechdel to the larger world of queer comics culture, the chapter considers the significance of The Advocate’s support of the field of queer comics, juxtaposed against large feminist publications like Ms., which often spurned women’s comics. This positive attitude creates a set of conditions through which not only Bechdel but other queer cartoonists flourish, particularly in the 90s, allowing them to make a living outside of the more conservative comics publishing world through self-syndication in queer periodicals.

Keywords:   Servants to the Cause, AIDS, The Advocate, Queer comics, Queer periodicals

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