Author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel became a cultural fixture over 40 years ago when she inadvertently created a way to gauge gender representation in Hollywood through the “Bechdel Test.” It continues to be a relevant cultural touchstone that came out of her long-running comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.”

She joined The Culture Show ahead of the Boston Public Library's Literary Lights dinner this Sunday, where she'll be honored for her work. The gala event is an annual celebration of writers and literature.

Bechdel said writing and illustrating graphic memoirs has helped her process things that have happened in her life.

“I had to sort through things intellectually, and also strangely because I'm a cartoonist, draw these things to figure them out,” she said.

In 2006, she released her bestselling graphic memoir “Fun Home” which was adapted into a Tony Award- winning musical. In it, Bechdel documents growing up in a funeral home — the family business — and grappling with questions about her own identity. That’s alongside her father’s torment as a gay, closeted man.

“You know, I have heard so many different people say to me 'Wow your your family sounds just like mine' and then they proceed to describe an entirely different kind of family situation,” Bechdel said. “But I think what touches people is just the fact of unearthing a family secret.”

Bechdel has a new graphic memoir, “The Secret to Superhuman Strength,” where she details her obsession with fitness — and mortality — in a funny, thoughtful and very GOOP-free exploration of self-improvement.

“Exercise is kind of my religion,” Bechdel told The Culture Show. “I normally just feel very, very cerebral, very caught up in my head, and it's only by exercising to the point of collapse that I can be free from that.”

Bechdel said in working on the book, she enjoyed researching writers, “who had a similar quest going on — that's trying to get outside of their individual selves in a way that was liberatory.”

You can listen to the full interview from The Culture Show above. Tune in to the full show daily at 2 p.m. on 89.7.