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Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars

Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and the most recent winner of a MacArthur "genius grant." She's probably best known for her creation of the "Bechdel Test" for movies to see how well they deal with women characters. But what's not usually mentioned is that the lady can draw the crap outta some cars.

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Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars

I'm taking these examples here from her autobiographical 2006 book-length work, Fun Home which is a really fantastic graphic novel or whatever you want to call these. The way Bechdel handled the cars in the novel absolutely caught my attention. Usually, in a graphic novel like this one, focused on some pretty weighty family/psychological/identity/sexuality issues and stuff like that, the cars aren't usually a priority. As a result, they often tend to be drawn as anonymous wheeled things, with no attention paid to them beyond that of background.

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But Bechdel actually seems to give a crap about cars. She draws cars that are clearly very specific types and models, and does a really good job of capturing the essence of the car with a surprising economy. The Volkswagen Type III Squareback that comes up a number of times in the book shows this well. Even at a distance, with just a few crude lines, you can tell, absolutely, that's a Squareback.

Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars

She also has a nice knack for big '70s American wagons, too.

Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars
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With Alison Bechdel in the news so much right now, I thought it was important to make it clear that, whether she admits it or even realizes it herself, she's a gearhead. Here's some more samples to enjoy.

Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars
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Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars
Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars
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Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars
Illustration for article titled Genius-Grant Winner And Bechdel Test Creator Can Also Draw Some Cars

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DISCUSSION

At the risk of sounding pedantic, I might suggest that Bechdel is most WIDELY known for her eponymous test, (people who've never read a graphic novel in their life know about that) but she's BEST known for her writing and drawing. Nevertheless, she's a great artist and storyteller, and this post is a cool angle on how the cars add depth to the storytelling. Riding in the way back of the Country Squire... I can smell the vinyl now.