Lynda Barry on Cartoons, High School, and Matt Groening

Lynda Barry on Cartoons, High School, and Matt Groening

Lynda Barry on Cartoons, High School, and Matt Groening

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 3 2011 1:17 PM

Lynda Barry on Cartoons, High School, and Matt Groening

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In Slate last week, Libby Copeland wrote about how the “ugly, eccentric, and misunderstood figures in [Lynda Barry’s] cartoons formed the backdrop to my adolescence; they made it okay to be all of the above.” Barry—whose cartoons were first published in a student newspaper at Evergreen State College by her friend Matt Groening—is best known for Ernie Pook’s Comeek, a beloved comic strip and for years a staple of alternative weeklies. In the 1980s, her cartoons were published in Esquire and she appeared several times on Late Night With David Letterman.

However, as Dan Kois reported in a profile of Barry in The New York Times Magazine, by 2008, “the consolidation of the alt-weekly world” had reduced Barry’s weekly income from Ernie Pook’s Comeek to $155. And so Barry has “reinvented herself as a creativity guru,” “publishing two boundary-blurring books on inspiration and teaching writing workshops for nonwriters.”

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And now Drawn & Quarterly is publishing all of her work in a 10-volume series. The first volume was just published, and it not only includes Barry’s earliest comics, but also a running autobiographical commentary on her artistic development—in cartoon form. Selections from that commentary are excerpted below. Enjoy. -- David Haglund

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Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator, and teacher. She lives in Wisconsin.