Tom Spurgeon has launched his annual Holiday Interviews series with a conversation with Alison Bechdel that’s a must-read. Here she is, talking about the pressure she felt with this year’s Are You My Mother to follow up the critically-acclaimed and financially successful Fun Home:
It was difficult working in the shadow of that book, which was so strangely successful. I wasn’t expecting that. I spent a lot of time in my life adjusting to being a successful cartoonist who was considered part of the mainstream after a career in the shadows. That was kind of traumatic. I didn’t want to repeat Fun Home. I felt like I had to push myself, to do something different and more complex. Actually, I don’t know if I was conscious of doing something more complex. I wanted to do something different. I was very anxious… Even though I was working with this knowledge that I’m in the shadow of this work that people like, it was mostly the weight of expectation that was daunting. When I was working on Fun Home, no one knew I was doing it. There was no pressure, zero pressure. With this book, I knew that people were waiting for it. I had already sold it. [laughs] So there’s financial pressure. But knowing that there was an audience waiting for this book was very inhibiting.
It’s an amazing interview, and a great start to a series that’s always a highlight of the year. Go, read.