How do I read Dykes To Watch Out For?
May 30, 2013 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I want to read Dykes To Watch Out For. The only strip I've read so far is the one that defines the Bechdel Test. What's the best way to go about this?

It seems like I should start from the beginning to get what's going on. Will it work if I just buy the collections in chronological order? Are there any you'd recommend skipping? Any side trips I should take along the way?

Thanks in advance.
posted by brett to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There is a handy near-complete single volume collection, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For.
posted by mayhap at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: DTWOF is the best! Yes, definitely start from the beginning.

You could try to piece together a full collection by purchasing the comics separately (they were published in short books) or just get the whole set in one book. I recommend doing it that way for ease of binge-reading.

And then! you can go to Alison Bechdel's site to read the rest.
posted by rocketing at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: If you're not a completist, I'd recommend getting the fairly recently-issued "The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For" hardcover. It doesn't have all the strips, but I think they did a good job covering the major storylines. When I read it, I didn't know it wasn't all the strips, and it never struck me that I was missing anything.
posted by matcha action at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2013

I started reading her books with the first one, and that's the approach I'd recommend. There is a collection called something like The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, but I don't know what it has or what it leaves out.

Her graphic novels Fun Home and Are You My Mother? are worthy side trips. As you can probably tell, I'm a drooling loony for DTWO4 and Bechdel in general.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 7:45 PM on May 30, 2013

Yes, start at the beginning. Watching Bechdel's skill and technique change and grow over the years as she grows the characters is really fantastic.
posted by rtha at 7:47 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you start at the beginning, be prepared for a long period before she found her groove. The early strips aren't sequential really, more just doodles and ideas. The characters are starting to emerge but aren't consistent. The writing is not that great and the drawings are much cruder than the Bechdel we know now. I like the early strips but they're different. After a few years she settled into the comic lesbian soap opera that it became.

Reading the little books (instead of the collections) is kind of fun because most have "bonus material" at the end. Little free-standing vignettes that are fun and good.
posted by latkes at 7:48 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also, if you really nerd out on her, I liked The Indelible Alison Bechdel for the background and process on how she developed as an artist.
posted by latkes at 7:51 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For. You also may want to pick up the little chapbook of Bechdel's original concept for the comic, which was an ABC of dykes one should watch out for. I'm not sure it's still in print, but I bought one new in a regular old Barnes & Noble about ten years ago. Before The Essential, Bechdel published the DTWOF comics in chapbook form periodically. I want to say once a year or once every few years? There are a dozen or more volumes of these. So if you really want to be a completionist, you could pick all those up in addition to The Essential.

For a long time the more recent-ish strips were online at Bechdel's website, published in webcomic form. By recent-ish, I mean, like, since maybe the late 90's. Before The Essential came out, when I was too broke to buy all the little chapbooks, the web was my only source of DTWOF. Not sure if any of them are still online.
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 PM on May 30, 2013

I read pretty much all of them when they came out, in the local gay rag. AND I still stayed up until all hours of the morning a few weeks ago, reading the new Essential DTWOF book. I would definitely recommend it as the best way to read them all the way through.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:39 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are strips on-line, which I visited slavishly for updates until that ended... (Don't peek until you've been through the earlier material.)

I also don't know what 'The Essential' leaves out, and would Nth the suggestion for the smaller books, read in chronological order, no skipping ahead. The 'bonus' stories at the end of the books are worth it!
posted by kmennie at 3:02 AM on May 31, 2013

Yeah, definitely the smaller books--"The Essential" leaves out all the bonus stories, and you miss some really good stuff that way (e.g., the extended story about how all the characters met, the actual birthing process for baby Raffi, the infidelity of a couple characters, etc.).

Probably about 15 years ago, the Quality Paperback Book Club put out a big collection of the first seven books (through "Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For"). That one truly was collected, not selected as "Essential" is--it had all the bonus stories, etc. I paid $50 for a used copy several years ago, probably the most I have ever paid for a non-school-related book. I have never ONCE regretted it. It's near-impossible to find now, though--not on eBay or alibris as far as I can find.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:04 AM on May 31, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips everyone. I marked the early EDTWOF suggestions as “best,” because the convenience and price point seemed like a great way for me to get started, but I appreciate the warnings about what's missing. If I'm craving more after I finish, now I know where to track those down too!
posted by brett at 3:39 PM on May 31, 2013

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