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Smahtguy: the Life and Times of Barney Frank: Eric Orner & Alison Bechdel in Conversation

June 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us for Eric Orner’s funny and engaging reading, his unique perspective on American politics, and a lively conversation between two longtime friends about the cartooning life in America today

Smahtguy offsets the brilliant, raucous, and combative story of Barney Frank’s public life against the personal turmoil he experienced struggling to emerge as both a gay person and a senior member of Congress.

Earlier in his career, Eric Orner created  “The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,” one of the most popular and widely published comics strips about LGBTQ life during its long (1989-2005) run.  His editorial illustrations have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The New Republic. He also worked extensively in the animation industry, as a story artist at Disney and other Los Angeles studios.

In addition to his artistic life, Orner moonlighted as a political staffer serving as press secretary for Frank (and later, as a speechwriter for Congresswoman Maxine Waters). In Smahtguy he combines arch cartooning, illustration and design skills with insider political access to craft an unforgettable portrayal of a singular American political life. 

Alison Bechdel is the internationally renowned author of Fun Home, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, Are You My Mother and the trailblazing comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

Purchase the book!

Available to pre-order through Strand Book Store. $25.99. Books will begin shipping 6/15.

About the Speakers

Author Photo by Stella Johnson (2022)

Eric Orner is a former Congressional aide to Barney Frank and the acclaimed author of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, one of the country’s first and longest-running gay comic strips. A feature film of the same title appeared in 2005, the same year that Orner retired the comic strip. Orner has also published comic strips and illustrations in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New Republic. His cartoon story “Weekends Abroad” was included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics 2011. Orner lives in New York and Smahtguy is his first graphic novel.

Photo credit Jeanette Spicer

Alison Bechdel’s work includes the long-running comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” as well as the graphic memoirs “Fun Home,” “Are You My Mother?” and “The Secret to Superhuman Strength.” But she is best-known in some quarters for being the originator of “The Bechdel Test.” The stage-musical adaptation of “Fun Home” premièred on Broadway in 2015, and received five Tony Awards. Bechdel is the recipient of an Eisner and a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in Vermont.


June 14
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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