A 2014 MacArthur Fellowship has been given to Vermont cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel. The Bolton artist has been at the forefront of the genre for more than 30 years. Her seminal comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, chronicled the lives of a group of lesbian friends. And her critically acclaimed memoirs explore her relationship with her parents and their own complicated inner lives.
The MacArthur Fellowships, commonly referred to as the Genius awards, recognize “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The award comes along with a stipend of $625,000, given out over five years.
Bechdel says she felt like fainting when she got a call from the MacArthur Foundation. “It was crazy; it was like someone had actually almost hit me. It was like a physical blow.” She says getting this kind of recognition infuses a greater confidence into her work and she plans to work even harder to live up to the expectations implicit in the award.
Bechdel was interviewed by Vermont Edition in 2012. Listen to that interview here.