The Near-Sighted Monkey
August 24, 2011 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Lynda Barry, cartoonist and author of One! Hundred! Demons! has a lovely art tumblr.
posted by The Whelk (44 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Oh I was so terrified this was an obit post. I adore her!
posted by hermitosis at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

posted by louche mustachio at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2011

"Dogs". I want that notebook with that story in it - bad.
posted by dutcherino at 7:44 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this. Ms Barry was as kind and wonderful as you'd imagine when I brought my daughter to meet her on her last book tour. She was encouraging and kind and made a sweet little drawing/dedication that my girl will treasure for ever.

We will both follow.
posted by readery at 7:51 AM on August 24, 2011

Scritching my dog while reading "Dogs."
posted by moonmilk at 8:00 AM on August 24, 2011

Oh I was so terrified...

Me, too. Actual obituary posts should be black. You add an "obituary" tag and the code takes care of the rest.
posted by pracowity at 8:00 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh I was so terrified this was an obit post.

So I'm not the only one that thought this could have been an Obit.
posted by Del Far at 8:13 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love Lynda Barry. I just read the one about dogs and crying in my cereal bowl already.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2011

Thanks! She's amazing!
posted by safetyfork at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2011

Yes, the dog one was good! Thanks for this.
posted by marxchivist at 8:18 AM on August 24, 2011

Excellent throughout. "Dogs" is a inspiring and heartbreaking, though I admit I was thinking of more cats than dogs while reading it.
posted by aught at 8:18 AM on August 24, 2011

That Dogs one made me tear up something fierce. Need a tissue now.
posted by Splunge at 8:18 AM on August 24, 2011

Awesome! I didn't even know she was doing much on the internet. When I saw her give a talk a year ago (filling me with joy and happiness) she was using an OS 9 clamshell iBook to do the slides. :)
posted by edheil at 8:21 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's wonderful to see that she is still Funk Queen of the Universe.

Not that I ever doubted.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

From the sidebar:
During Spring Semester of 2012, Lynda Barry will be the University of Wisconsin’s Artist in Residence on the Madison campus. She’ll be teaching a writing and picture-making class called, “What It Is: Manually Shifting the Image” which will meet twice a week.

The class will be open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines. No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students should have an interest in memory, images, how the brain works, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

To find out more visit:
How I wish I lived closer to Madison right now!
posted by jillithd at 8:34 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love her, and have several pieces of original art by her hanging in my home. I've met her at book signings. But I must admit I find her opposition to wind farms a little perplexing (primarily because of the NIMBY aspects). But I thrilled by this her tumblr.
posted by kimdog at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a terrific interview with the AV Club also.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've sent this to some people, grown man-people and they are crying now.

For the next group, I will append the warning:

"Dogs" will make you cry. That is not speculation, that is a straight-up fact. Don't read it anywhere where you will be embarrassed by crying.

But read it. You have to.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2011

Oooh yay! Thanks! Even with the crying.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2011

Fantastic. I adore Lynda Barry, I was just re-reading The Fun House last week.
posted by Specklet at 9:20 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh man. "What It Is" is good shit. Just absolutely terrifying in the best possible way.

I'd always made the mistake of lumping Lynda Barry in with Sark and like people who collect things with pictures of Tweety Bird. You know: "Childhood is awesome! Children are sweet and kind and joyful! We should all be more like that!" I think I was like twelve when I first saw her stuff, and... I dunno, something about the deliberate scribbliness and the dorky-kids-are-awesome subject matter, and I figured "Oh shit, another dumb starry-eyed grownup who's forgotten how awful childhood actually is. I'm not reading this crap."

And then last year I finally picked up my girlfriend's copy of What It Is and OH SHIT. No, Lynda Barry hasn't forgotten. She absolutely remembers what it's like to be eight years old and worried about something — and she puts it across better than anyone I've read except maybe Shirley Jackson.

That damn cephalopod gave me nightmares.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

thank you for posting this!!! I'm a big fan.
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2011

Oh, there's a fair quantity of dorky-kids-are-awesome as well. Otherwise she'd be intolerably depressing. Marlys is a unique child hero who manages to find or create moments of awesomeness in the midst of poverty and family strife, usually without resorting to escapist fantasy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Although my favorite Barry is still Poodle with a Mohawk.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rock ON!

I've printed out the Magnetic Meditating Monkey for the cover of my E&M notebook this semester.

nebulawindphone, I'm so glad you re-discovered Barry. I refer to her consistently as one of the most authentic voices of childhood that I've ever encountered.
posted by BrashTech at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2011

Oh, there's a fair quantity of dorky-kids-are-awesome as well. Otherwise she'd be intolerably depressing. Marlys is a unique child hero who manages to find or create moments of awesomeness in the midst of poverty and family strife, usually without resorting to escapist fantasy.

Yeah, but I'm okay with that.

I think there's a difference between romanticizing that stuff ("...the magical power of your imagination can take you anywhere in the world!...") and just portraying it like it is. Some of my favorite comics of hers, now that I've gone back and started reading them, are the ones where Marlys is accidentally sort of a jerk because she's too caught up in her own game or fantasy or whatever to see how it's affecting other people.

It's like, yeah, creativity is fun, it's how a lot of people cope with their shit, but it's not actually going to sweep you off your feet and solve all your problems. And once I saw that she was being that sort of realist about it, the fun awesome happy comics got more interesting too, because I knew she wasn't working from the assumption that Fun and Happy were guaranteed.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:04 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why are we all so worried about Linda Barry? I read 'tumblr' as 'tumor' initially and had a similar panic.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:19 AM on August 24, 2011

Oh, there's a fair quantity of dorky-kids-are-awesome as well. Otherwise she'd be intolerably depressing.

Check out The Freddie Stories. That book is relentless. I take it to be a tale of teenage schizophrenia in a vulnerable kid, but I could be wrong about what "Old Buddy" actually is.

That said, baby-baba-rocka-shaggy-mama-baba-saba-sister-brother-baba-doctor-shaggy-backa-baba-bubba-baby-boo is one of the greatest character names ever.
posted by benzenedream at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

This may sound silly, but what always struck me is how poor the kids in Barry's comics are. I first discovered her as a poor kid myself. One of my sister's friends had a book of Marlys comics. I'd never seen something before that so perfectly captured the speech and the households--too many cats, incense to cover the cat pee smell, shag carpets littered with pieces of food--that I'd grown up in, and around. They always seemed thrillingly contemporary, too. I always figured that Barry was much younger, until I read 100 demons and realized how much of her work is autobiographical and actually likelier set in the 50s and 60s. I guess the markers of poverty transcend generation. Anyway, glad Barry is telling these stories. They're not often told.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Re: "Dogs"

It's the "thump thump thump" at the very end that gets me :)
posted by o2b at 10:51 AM on August 24, 2011

man i will tell you, coming across lynda barry when on the cusp of maladjusted adolescence with a screwy family in the middle of nowhere, that shit is godsend. and then again godsend when reading What It Is and Picture This during times of mental restructuring as an adult. she is so fuckin' good.
posted by beefetish at 11:27 AM on August 24, 2011

Why are we all so worried about Linda Barry?

Because after she and Bootsy are gone there will be NO ONE TO ADMINISTER THE FUNK.

This is wonderful, thanks. I revisited the "Lynda Barry Experience" CD just recently.
posted by mintcake! at 12:46 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't want to be all spoiling spoilers, so just go read infinitewindow's story to find out who is the famous person you all know who was Lynda Barry's worst boyfriend ever.
posted by msalt at 2:53 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I got into Lynda Barry when I was the actual age of a Lynda Barry character (8 or 9). It was a tremendous help and influence. I'd be sending her hell of fan letters if there were any "ask" boxes on that tumblr.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I met her briefly in Chicago in I guess around 1991. And although at that point I knew and loved Ernie Pook's Comeek, I had no idea then how much more she was going to do, and how much I was going to love all of it, or how much it would come to mean to me over the years.

I can't go back to that day and tell her, but maybe I should email her now.
posted by tangerine at 4:30 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I LOVE this woman with all my heart. Have been a fan since 1990 or so. Shame on the Austin Chronicle for not running her stuff anymore.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:16 PM on August 24, 2011

I love Lynda Barry a whole bunch. Hers was one of the first comics I got into. It was that weird early high school time before comics were cool again and I wasn't quite sure if they were awesome grown-up works or something for kids that I should be too old for. So I checked them out of the library time and time again, hidden in stacks of "important novels". Specifically I remember Come Over, Come Over, My Perfect Life, and It's So Magic and how much resonance the voices of her characters have. I especially love how much enthusiasm and optimism they maintain in kinda rough settings. Without realizing they have it rough. Or being disingenuously noble. And at 14 I was, as a lot of teenagers are, pretty damn pretentious. But they were just so compelling and easy to relate to that I risked the derision of the librarians (whose approval I desperately wanted) and my peers (who mattered slightly less) just to read those stories over and over. Luckily, I've grown up to have somewhat more confidence. I've also learned that yes, in fact, they were awesome all along I was just too dorky and jittery to get it at the time. Which is probably why 15 years later she's still one of my favorite people in comics. Even though my house might smell like cats, I still like to trip out on the magicness of the universe.
posted by troublewithwolves at 8:35 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

She is wonderful. Once, when I was feeling low about 20 years ago, a friend mailed me an Ernie Pook's she had been carrying around in her wallet for a few years, to cheer herself up in down moments. It was the one called Crystal Blue Persuasion about those moments where everything in the universe - the smells, the song on the radio, the colors, your parents, everything - is inexplicably perfect. I carried it around for a few years too until I lost it. Wish I could find it online.

Later I wrote her a fan letter that included this story: My at that time girlfriend's mom chastised my girlfriend and I for exposing her younger step sibling to "Lesbian Comics" like Lynda Barry's. Barry wrote me back a very sweet note with cute drawings of dogs and Marlys.

I couldn't get into Cruddy, although I appreciated the effort. Also liked 100 Demons but when you've been loving someone so long it's hard not to be all, "You people don't even KNOW how awesome she IS" when they all suddenly discover her. I know, stupid. She's great and everyone should discover her and love her. How could that [ex boyfriend's name redacted] have been such a moron!?

Anyway. Thanks for the post.
posted by serazin at 11:05 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crystal Blue Persuasion - is that the one with the last cell just one big spiral? Because that cell went in my wallet too.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:53 AM on August 25, 2011

Serazin, if you don't mind having it in book form instead, all of her stuff is well-anthologized, and most of the books can be found used. I'm pretty sure I tasted Crystal Blue Persuasion in there when I inhaled her entire oeuvre some years back.

That was a magical moment -- suddenly realizing that ALL the Lynda Barry and ALL the Berke Breathed my childhood heart could have desired could now be found easily, used, online, and I could have it for not even all that much money. Saved my life a few times in grad school. One Hundred Demons is basically therapy.
posted by gusandrews at 9:31 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good point. I've got a couple of her books - Fun House I think? It'd take some time at the library to figure out which book Crystal Blue Persuasion is in. Or maybe I'll wait for that big anthology of Ernie Pook's that set to come out... eventually. Wouldn't mind forking over 20, 25 bucks toward a new copy of that one.
posted by serazin at 10:06 PM on August 25, 2011

20 bucks?! I read one of the amazing interviews linked above and it's going to be a 10 volume set!! Every Ernie Pook's ever written! Holy cow!
posted by serazin at 1:30 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Matt Greoring of The Simpsons proposed to Lynda Barry but it didn't work out, during the credits of the early Treehouse Of Horror episodes he us listed as Matt Funk Lord Of The USA Greoring, which is a Lynda Barry call out
posted by The Whelk at 10:50 PM on September 1, 2011

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