At the 2010 Alternative Press Expo
|Born||Linda Jean Barry
January 2, 1956
Richland Center, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Ernie Pook's Comeek
The Good Times Are Killing Me
One! Hundred! Demons!
Barry is best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek. She garnered attention with her 1988 illustrated novel The Good Times are Killing Me, about an interracial friendship between two young girls, which was made into a play. Her second illustrated novel, Cruddy, appeared in 1999. Three years later she published One! Hundred! Demons!, a graphic novel she terms "autobiofictionalography". What It Is (2008) is a graphic novel that is part memoir, part collage and part workbook, in which Barry instructs her readers in methods to open up their own creativity; it won the comics industry's 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.
In recognition of her contributions to the comic art form, Comics Alliance listed Barry as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition, and she received the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. In July 2016, she was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Early life and education
Her father was a meat-cutter of Irish and Norwegian descent, and her mother, a hospital housekeeper, was of Irish and Filipino descent. Barry grew up in Seattle, Washington in an African-American neighborhood, and recalled her childhood as difficult and awkward. Her parents divorced when she was 12. By age 16, she was working nights as a janitor at a Seattle hospital while still attending high school, where her classmates included artist Charles Burns. Neither of Barry's parents attended her graduation.[why?]
At The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, Barry met fellow cartoonist Matt Groening. Her career began in 1977 when he and University of Washington Daily student editor John Keister each published her work without her knowledge in their respective student newspapers, titling it Ernie Pook's Comeek.
Barry was known as the class cartoonist in her grade school. While studying fine arts at The Evergreen State College, she began drawing comic strips compulsively when her boyfriend left her for another girl: “I couldn’t sleep after that, and I started making comic strips about men and women. The men were cactuses and the women were women, and the cactuses were trying to convince the women to go to bed with them, and the women were constantly thinking it over but finally deciding it wouldn’t be a good idea.” These were the cartoons Groening and Keister published as Ernie Pook's Comeek. Barry also credits her start in comics to Evergreen State College professor Marilyn Frasca, saying, "The lessons I learned from her when I was 19 and 20, I still use every day and have never been able to wear out."
After graduating from Evergreen, Barry moved to Seattle. When she was 23, the Chicago Reader picked up her comic strip, enabling her to make a living from her comics alone. She later moved to Chicago, Illinois. As she described her career start:
[Editor] Bob Roth called me from the Chicago Reader as the result of an article [her college classmate] Matt [Groening] wrote about hip West Coast artists — he threw me in just because he was a buddy, right? And then Bob Roth ... called and wanted to see my comic strips, and I didn't have any originals. I didn’t know anything about originals, that you don’t give them to newspapers because newspapers lose them. So I had to draw a whole set that night and Federal Express them. So I did, and he started printing them, and he paid $80 a week, and I could live off of that. And because he’s with this newspaper association, the other papers started picking it up. So it was luck. Sheer luck. [Matt] got into the Los Angeles Reader. For a long time the Los Angeles Reader wouldn't print me, and the Chicago Reader wouldn’t print Matt even though they’re sister publications. So we both worked on the publishers and the editors to get each other in. It was really funny: when we got into each others’ papers, everything sort of took off for both of us.
Collections of her work include Girls & Boys (1981), Big Ideas (1983), Everything in the World (1986), The Fun House (1987), and Down the Street (1989). In 1984, she released a coloring book with brief text called Naked Ladies! Naked Ladies! Naked Ladies! She also wrote and drew a full-page color strip examining the everyday pathology of relationships for Esquire magazine. In 1989 Barry's strip appeared weekly in more than 50 publications, mostly alternative newspapers in large cities.
Collections of Barry's comics began appearing in 1981. She has written two illustrated novels, The Good Times are Killing Me (1988) and Cruddy, also known as Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel (1999). Barry adapted the former as an Off-Broadway play (see below).
One! Hundred! Demons! first appeared as a serialized comic on Salon.com; according to the book's introduction, it was produced in emulation of an old Zen painting exercise called "one hundred demons." In this exercise, the practitioner awaits the arrival of demons and then paints them as they arise in the mind. The demons Barry wrestles with in this book include regret, abusive relationships, self-consciousness, the prohibition against feeling hate, and her response to the results of the 2000 U.S. presidential election. The book contains an instructional section that encourages readers to take up the brush and follow her example. According to Time magazine, the book uses "acutely-observed humor to explore the pain of growing up."
Barry has also published three books about the creative processes of writing and drawing. What It Is, Picture This, and Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor focus on opening pathways to personal creativity. Publishers Weekly gave Syllabus a starred review, calling it "an excellent guide for those seeking to break out of whatever writing and drawing styles they have been stuck in, allowing them to reopen their brains to the possibility of new creativity." The AV Club named Syllabus one of the best comics of 2014.
In other media
Barry adapted her illustrated novel The Good Times are Killing Me (1988) as an Off-Broadway play that had 106 performances from March 26 to June 23, 1991, at the McGinn-Cazale Theatre at 2162 Broadway, then 136 performances from July 30 to November 24, 1991, after transferring to the Minetta Lane Theatre. It was produced by Second Stage Theatre, with the Minetta Lane portion produced by Concert Productions International, and directed by Mark Brokaw. Angela Goethals won a 1990–91 Obie Award for her lead role as Edna Arkins. Chandra Wilson as Bonna Willis won a 1991 Theatre World Award. Barry was nominated for the 1992 Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award.
Workshop and teaching
Barry offers a workshop titled "Writing the Unthinkable" through the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and The Crossings in Austin, Texas, in which she teaches the process she uses to create all of her work. Barry conducts approximately 15 writing workshops around the country each year. She credits her teacher, Marilyn Frasca at The Evergreen State College, with teaching her these creativity and writing techniques. Many of these techniques appear in her book What It Is. A New York Times article about her writing workshops summed up her technique: "Barry isn't particularly interested in the writer’s craft. She's more interested in where ideas come from — and her goal is to help people tap into what she considers to be an innate creativity."
In the spring term of 2012, Barry was artist in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute and Department of Art. She taught a class, What It Is: Manually Shifting the Image.
Barry is married to Kevin Kawula, a prairie restoration expert. They met while she was an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation and he was land manager of the Lake Forest Open Lands project in Lake Forest, Illinois. In 2002 they moved to a dairy farm near Footville, Wisconsin.
Barry is an outspoken critic of wind turbines and has lobbied the Wisconsin government for clearer zoning regulations for turbines being built in residential areas. She has also spoken out about wind power's problems with noise pollution, human health, and efficiency as related to variability.
- Girls and Boys (Real Comet Press 1981) ISBN 0-941104-00-1
- Big Ideas (Real Comet Press, 1983) ISBN 0-941104-07-9)
- Everything in the World (HarperCollins 1986) ISBN 978-0060961077
- Down the Street (HarperCollins 1988) ISBN 978-0060963040
- The Fun House (HarperCollins 1988) ISBN 0-06-096228-3
- The Good Times Are Killing Me (Perennial/HarperCollins, 1988) ISBN 0-941104-22-2
- Come Over, Come Over (HarperCollins 1990) ISBN 0-06-096504-5
- My Perfect Life (Perennial/HarperCollins 1992) ISBN 978-0060965051
- The Lynda Barry Experience (spoken word cassette tape/CD 1993) ISBN 1-882543-17-3
- It's So Magic (Perennial/HarperCollins 1994) ISBN 978-0060950460
- The Freddie Stories (Sasquatch Books 1999) ISBN 978-1570611063
- Cruddy (Simon & Schuster hardcover 1999; paperback 2000) ISBN 978-0684838465
- The Greatest of Marlys (Sasquatch Books 2000) ISBN 1-57061-260-9
- One! Hundred! Demons! (Sasquatch Books 2002) ISBN 9781570613371
- The Two Questions
- What It Is (Drawn and Quarterly 2008) ISBN 978-1897299357
- Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book (Drawn and Quarterly 2010) ISBN 1-897299-64-8
- Blabber Blabber Blabber: Volume 1 of Everything (Drawn and Quarterly 2011) ISBN 978-1770460522
- Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor (Drawn and Quarterly 2014) ISBN 978-1770461611
- Lynda Barry profile at the Lambiek Comiclopedia.
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- *Please enter your name. "12 Women in Comics Who Deserve Lifetime Achievement Recognition". Comicsalliance.com. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- Schumacher, Mary Louise (May 14, 2013). "Wisconsin 'hall of fame' artists announced for 2013". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Cavna, Michael. "Comic-Con: 'Overjoyed' Rep. John Lewis wins 'the Oscar of comics' for his civil rights memoir (+ winners' list)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- "Lynda Barry Wisconsin Institute for Discovery". University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Kois, Dan (October 27, 2011). "Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe In Yourself". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 23, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- "Lynda Barry: About". University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute. Spring 2012. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Garden, Joe (December 8, 1999). "Interview: Lynda Barry". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
When Robert Roth at The Chicago Reader called me in Seattle and picked up my comic strip ... The Reader paid $80 per week. My rent was $99 a month. Lordy! I was rich. This was when I was 23, so around 1979-ish.
- Grossman, Pamela (May 18, 1999). "Barefoot on the Shag". Salon.com. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
- Interview with Lynda Barry, tjc.com; accessed July 31, 2015.
- Mirk, Sarah (14 October 2010). "Why Do We Stop Drawing?". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Garrity, Shaenon K. (December 6, 2007). "All the Comics #4: Lynda Barry". Archived from the original on February 22, 2013.
- "Mixing Up Her Media: Lynda Barry". ReadExpress.com. October 2, 2008. Archived from the original on February 23, 2013.
- Borrelli, Christoper (March 8, 2009). "Being Lynda Barry". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
- Kirtley, Susan (January 25, 2012). Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-61703-235-6. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- "Lynda Barry profile". Salon.com. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Arnold, Andrew (October 18, 2002). "Making It Up As You Go Along". Time. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- "Publishers Weekly Review of Syllabus". Publishers Weekly. October 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- O'Neil, Tim; Sava, Oliver. "The Best Comics for 2014". AV Club. The Onion. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- "The Good Times Are Killing Me". Lortel Archives/The Off-Broadway Database (Lucille Lortel Foundation). Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "The Good Times Are Killing Me". (Minetta Lane) Lortel Archives/Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "Cartoonist and author Lynda Barry is spring artist in residence". UW-Madison News. January 18, 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Wing, Dawn. "APA Author Interview — Lynda Barry, Madison, Wisconsin". Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- English, Marianne. "Cartoonist Lynda Barry Joins Art Department and WID Faculty". University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Barry as artist-in-residence at Capilano University, capilanou.ca; accessed July 31, 2015.
- Miner, Michael (November 20, 1998). "Ira Glass's Messy Divorce: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on June 8, 2000. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
Barry: “I went out with him. It was the worst thing I ever did. When we broke up he gave me a watch and said I was boring and shallow, and I wasn't enough in the moment for him, and it was over.”
Glass: “Anything bad she says about me I can confirm.”
- Kino, Carol (May 11, 2008). "How to Think Like a Surreal Cartoonist". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Lake Forest Open Lands website, lfola.org; accessed March 5, 2016.
- What It Is: Cartoonist Lynda Barry Speaks at Johns Hopkins, radarredux.com; accessed March 5, 2016.
- Engage State Local Tribal Government: State – In My Backyard?. Wisconsin: Educational Communications Board. 2010. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- McCombie, Brian (September 10, 2009). "The war over wind". Madison Isthmus. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- Chute, Hillary (November–December 2008). "'Somehow People Started Somehow to Actually Start to Like It, ...'". The Believer. 6 (9): 47–58.
- Tensuan, Theresa M. (Winter 2006). "Comic Visions and Revisions in the work of Lynda Barry and Marjane Satrapi". Modern Fiction Studies. 52 (4): 947–964. doi:10.1353/mfs.2007.0010.
- Chute, Hillary L. (2010). Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics. New York: Columbia University Press; ISBN 978-0-231-15062-0.
- Kirtley, Susan E. (2012). Lynda Barry: Girlhood through the Looking Glass. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1617032356.
- Dean, Michael (March 2, 2009). "Lynda Barry Interview". The Comics Journal (296). Online excerpts from print interview. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lynda Barry.|
- Salon.com: Lynda Barry archive, salon.com; accessed March 5, 2016.
- "Lynda Barry intreview". Drawn and Quarterly. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Works by or about Lynda Barry in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Presenting at Cusp Conference 2009 video, cuspconference.com; accessed March 5, 2016.