Alison Bechdel, comic book creator of Fun Home, Are You My Mother, Dykes To Watch Out For and accidental creator of The Bechdel Test for the portrayal of women in fiction, is one of this year's twenty-one receivers of the MacArthur Genius Grant received by twenty-one people this year, worth $625,000 over five years.
Bechdel composes an intricate, recursive narrative structure that is compelling on both the visual and verbal planes in Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama (2012), a meditation on her relationship with her emotionally distant mother seen through the lens of psychoanalytic theory. As in Fun Home, the images in Are You My Mother? do not always correspond to or illustrate the words; rather, they mutually interpret or often tug against each other, creating a space between them that invites a multiplicity of interpretations. With storytelling that is striking for its conceptual depth and complexity in structure as well as for the deft use of allusion and reference, Bechdel is changing our notions of the contemporary memoir and expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form.
She talks about her working method, the shock on receiving the award, and how it is already affecting her work, in the video below.