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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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Framing Community from Inside Out

Framing Community from Inside Out

The Information Worlds of Dykes to Watch Out For

(p.230) Framing Community from Inside Out
The Comics of Alison Bechdel

Don L. Latham

Jonathan M. Hollister

University Press of Mississippi

Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which ran from 1983 to 2008 in mostly independent, alternative newspapers as well as online, had an important effect on representing and shaping the LGBTQ, and especially the lesbian, community in the latter decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, a time of great change for the LGBTQ community. Within the world of the comic strip, information, information behavior, and the exchange of information play a key role in helping build and maintain community among the (mostly lesbian) characters. In turn, the identities of the individual members of that community are shaped by that evolving community. This essay will use Jaeger and Burnett’s theory of information worlds as a framework for examining how information and information behaviors help to form and maintain the information world of the lesbian community depicted in Dykes To Watch Out For. It will demonstrate that, as an insider in a marginalized community, Bechdel framed the information world of that community through her art and exported it to other communities outside of her world, thus helping to shape the information worlds of “real-world” lesbian communities over the quarter century that the strip was published.

Keywords:   Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel, Information worlds, Information theory, Lesbian comics

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