Comic Book: Fun Home

Fun Home is a 2006 comic memoir by Alison Bechdel, creator of Dykes To Watch Out For. The story focuses on her growing up in rural Pennsylvania, living under her oppressive father, Bruce, a high-school teacher and funeral home director. It also focuses on his history, how he came to be, and his lifelong project of restoring a dilapidated Victorian-era mansion. As she asserts her independence and comes to accept her orientation as a lesbian, she discovers that her father is gay and closeted. Soon after Alison comes out, he is hit by a truck, which she believes to have been suicide.

The book took seven years to make. The art was painstakingly reconstructed from family photographs, alongside the panels Alison herself posed for. Upon its release, Fun Home was well received critically, and is held up as an exemplary work of both its medium and its genre.

The book was followed up by Are You My Mother? which deals with Alison's relationship with her mother.

Fun Home was adapted into a Broadway musical which was released on April 2015 and received numerous Tony Awards nomination, and snagged Best Book, Best Score, Best Musical. It notably is the very first mainstream musical to feature a lesbian protagonist.


This work contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Downplayed. While he didn't overtly abuse Alison, Bruce was still an awful person to her at various points in her childhood.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In-universe. Alison and her girlfriend were fond of doing this to classic childhood literature- "God, Christopher Robin was a total imperialist!"
    • Also of her father. She admits freely that suicide is only her interpretation of his death, and she can never know for sure whether it is correct. When telling of things he did, she offers several different versions of what could have been the motivations behind them.
  • Anachronic Order
  • Art Shift: For the close-ups of the photographs.
  • The Beard: It's never stated explicitly, but Bruce is hinted to have married Helen for this reason, though the follow-up Are You My Mother does briefly acknowledge he could have been bisexual.
  • Bland-Name Product: Averted. All the products shown are real brands (Sunbeam bread, Beech-Nut tobacco).
  • Book Ends:
    • Both the beginning and end of the book refer to Icarus Allusions and the imagery of flight.
    • Likewise, the musical adaptation ends on the memory of Bruce playing airplane with her.
  • Butch Lesbian: Alison.
    • Even more so, the delivery driver that young Alison sees in a diner, which is a turning point for her, seeing that a "butch" woman can be a valid lifestyle. (Her father thinks otherwise.) Turned into a memorable song in The Musical, "Ring of Keys," which stole the show at the Tony Awards.
  • Cool Clear Water: Pollution makes rivers nice and sparkly.
  • Coming-Out Story: For Alison, however, Bruce never attains one.
  • Continuity Nod: Dykes To Watch Out For fans should be able to spot Ginger, Lois, and Harriet at the college LGBT group.
  • The Dandy: Bruce is played straight, he is obsessed with his appearance, as well as the rest of his family.
  • Dark Reprise: Helen Bechdel's "Days and Days" in the musical is a dark reprisal of "Welcome to Our House in Maple Avenue."
  • Daydream Surprise: Alison has a brief imaginary outburst at her father's funeral. The next panel cuts back to reality, where she is quiet and polite.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alison. Helen too, at times.
  • Distant Duet: In the musical, there are moments where Alison finds herself singing across time with her late father.
  • Doing It for the Art
  • Driven to Suicide: As if this wasn't tragic enough, there's the strong implication that Allison herself is the one who inadvertently did the driving. Though, see Alternative Character Interpretation.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Fan Disservice: The naked, open-stomached corpse.
  • Flyover Country: Beech Creek, Pennsylvania.
  • Hot for Student: Bruce had, at one point, slept with two of his students. The event was swept under the rug.
  • Icarus Allusion: The first chapter has Alison discuss the parallel between Icarus/Daedalus and herself/her father. It's one of the major recurring themes of the book.
  • "I Want" Song: In the musical, it's a "He [Bruce] wants" song. Then a more subtle straight example in "Ring of Keys," when young Alison, while having trouble articulating it, realizes she wants to dress similarly like the butch delivery woman.
  • Never Trust a Title: It's short for Funeral Home, which is the family business. The home itself is rarely fun.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Several little asides stress this, like "Yes, it really was a Sunbeam Bread truck" and "Honest to God, we had a painting of a cockatoo in the library."
  • Parents as People:
  • Pet the Dog: While it's downplayed, Bruce does show a capacity to be affectionate or cordial to his children, such as playing airplane with Alison or reading a bedtime story. Alison argues that this just even made the family tension more unpredictable.
  • Real Is Greenish-Gray
  • Shotacon: During the Bicentennial in New York, Alison's brother, John, is stalked by a pedophile. He gets away safely.
  • Shout-Out: Over the course of the book Alison compares her life and its contents with most of the major literary canon, starting with Greek Mythology and ending with Ulysses. Books and plays come up a lot in this story.
  • They're Called Personal Issues For A Reason: Bechdel's family was upset about her talking about family secrets.
  • Tom Boy: Alison during her childhood. Her cousins even call her "Butch".
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Bechdel spends much of the book looking back on her childhood with a new perspective after she learns her dad is gay.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?:
    • Demonstrated in-universe during Alison's literature class.
    • Arguably invoked by the way she tells her own story, giving away all the key elements of the story very early on, and then spending the bulk of the book analysing and re-assessing every memory of her father she has.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When Alison comes out of the closet, she considers herself some sort of dramatic heroine. When her mother reveals that her father is also gay and closeted, she realizes she's actually only the comic relief in her father's tragedy.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Much of Helen's anguish is dealing with her father's numerous affairs.