The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel


The Secret to Superhuman Strength is a graphic memoir. It’s the first book I have ever read by Alison Bechdel. She’s a wonderful cartoonist who became well know through her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008). She went on to produce two previous graphic memoirs, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama. Fun Home was turned into a Broadway show that won several Tony Awards and featured the first lesbian protaganist in a Broadway musical. Bechdel was born in Pennsylvania in 1960 near State College where I have lived since 1966. I chose the book for my bookclub thinking everyone would be surprised and delighted to see drawings of the area where we all live and where Bechdel grew up. It was embarrassing; it seems I was the only one who did not know about Bechdel!

Everyone was excited to read Bechdel’s latest memoir. While the books are created in comic book style, they are the author’s reflections on her life’s journey. Superhuman Strength focuses on her relationship with herself. The drawings are wonderful. She usually works in black and white, but the pages of Superhuman Strength are beautifully watercolored by her partner Holly Rae Taylor. I had to smile when Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller appeared in Bechdel’s comic style drawings. I wondered, “What would they think?”

I am anxious to play catch up and read Bechdel’s earlier work. She is gifted with so much talent. The Secret to Superhuman Strength is a delightful read. I am glad I finally discovered this wonderful writer/artist!

7 comments on “The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel”

  1. Fun Home is excellent, too. I think I wrote about reading it somewhere on this blog. Of course, it is on the long list of targeted school library books, as is Art Spiegelman’s fabulous graphic novel, Maus. Have you read it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course Bechdel would be banned. I haven’t read Maus, but I saw the authors of Maus and All Boys Aren”t Blue talking about their books when they were banned by some school districts. A. posted about All Boys….. The only good thing is that banned books go up in sales! All of these books are still on my local library shelves.

      Liked by 2 people

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