Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Alison Bechdel, the cartoonist and graphic novelist whose name is synonymous with examinations of gender in mainstream entertainment, has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship -- a $625,000 grant awarded with no strings attached and typically called the "Genius Grant."

"I thought I was going to faint," Bechdel said in her official statement. "I feel like I've been in a state of shock. Getting this kind of recognition from the MacArthur Foundation, I can feel it already changing my life. I'm having to adjust to the fact this has happened, so I must be doing something worthwhile. To have that kind of confidence put into my work is a huge gift, and I'm going to work very, very hard to live up to those expectations."

While she made a name for herself with Dykes to Watch Out For -- and literally made a name for herself when "The Bechdel Test" went viral -- she's perhaps better known in recent years for her graphic novel Fun Home, which is frequently taught in high schools and colleges and is widely considered one of the best graphic novels of the last 20 years.

For reference, the Bechdel test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.

You can see Bechdel's official MacArthur video below, along with the Foundation's description of Bechdel and the award.


Cartoonist and Graphic Memoirist Alison Bechdel is expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form in intricate narratives that explore the complexities of familial relationships.

The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more. Learn more at