Fun Home

Alison Bechdel hits it out of the park in her comics memoir Fun Home, which examines her relationship with her late father from a number of angles. He died under questionable circumstances (she thinks it was suicide, but the official story was accident) when she was in college, where she was starting to come to terms with being a lesbian.

The title “fun home” is her nickname for the family business, a funeral home in a small American town. Her parents were both very intelligent people, happily living in Europe due to her father’s Army posting, when her grandfather died and the family moved back to America to take over the business. Her father spent much of his time restoring an old home to Victorian splendor, but Bechdel wonders if he was merely sublimating his own homosexuality – an effort that ultimately failed as she grew older.

Fun Home is as well constructed and meticulous as her father’s house, thanks to Bechdel’s detailed diaries of her youth and her decades of cartooning and storytelling experience. It is a sharp and brilliantly self-aware memoir that belongs on the same shelf as Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, Will Eisner’s To The Heart of the Storm, and Craig Thompson’s Blankets.