Alison Bechdel, creator of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For, will be honored as Vermont’s new Cartoonist Laureate at a ceremony in the state house next month, followed by a presentation of laurels at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction. Bechdel is the third cartoonist to fill the role, succeeding James Kochalka and Ed Koren.
The latest plaudit, officially bestowed by CCS, follows a few years after Bechdel received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” becoming the first woman cartoonist so recognized. Earlier that same year, some South Carolina legislators made a determined effort to enact punitive budget cuts against the College of Charleston after her graphic novel Fun Home was used as part of a one book/one campus program there. After months of legislative wrangling, lawmakers eventually “compromised” by restoring the funds to the College but earmarking them for teaching students about U.S. founding documents including the Constitution.
The flip side of that censorious coin is the joint statement issued this week by Vermont’s Congressional delegation–Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Rep. Peter Welch–after the new Laureate was announced:
We applaud The Center for Cartoon Studies’ choice of Alison Bechdel to serve as Vermont’s next cartoonist laureate. For three decades, Ms. Bechdel’s talents have been well known to Vermonters, and we have proudly watched her achieve the national acclaim she deserves. Her scope of work – from books to Broadway – has added to our national discourse. Congratulations to Alison Bechdel for continuing another unique tradition that sets Vermont apart.
On Thursday, April 6 at 1pm, Bechdel will officially be appointed to a three-year term as Cartoonist Laureate with the reading of a resolution on the floor of the State House. The presentation of laurels will follow at 4pm at CCS, 46 South Main Street in White River Junction. The latter event is free and open to the public, but seats must be reserved ahead of time on the Eventbrite page.
Congrats to Bechdel on this much-deserved honor, and thanks to CCS and the state of Vermont for recognizing and cultivating the vibrant field of cartooning!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.