On Wednesday, cartoonist Alison Bechdel was named one of 21 new MacArthur Fellows. Bechdel’s name may be familiar to you from her graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?, or you may recognize her as the deviser of the Bechdel test, a metric she described in a 1985 comic strip that assesses whether movies have meaningful interactions between female characters. For decades, she’s been assembling a groundbreaking body of work that plays with what the cartoon form can do, through her graphic memoirs as well as through her comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."
Bechdel’s choice as a MacArthur Fellow made a splash, however, as it marks only the second time a cartoonist has been selected for the honor. The first, Ben Katchor, was awarded the fellowship in 2000.