Welcome to ComicsVerse’s Monthly Artist Spotlight! Once a month, we select one of our favorite artists and tell you a little about them and their work. This month, we’re highlighting the always wonderful Lynda Barry!
Gloriously wild, artist Lynda Barry’s alternative comics have inspired comic fans and creators since the 1970s. Indeed, Barry’s works are staples of comics studies courses and fixtures in my own personal comic library. With flamboyantly chaotic artwork that quickly destabilizes reader’s expectations, Barry continues to revolutionize how we think about comics as a medium for self-expression. The University of Wisconsin-Madison professor uses comics as a tool for discovery. Her bailiwick: the image. Barry’s investigation into the world of images began at Evergreen State College in Washington where Barry studied with painter Marilyn Frasca. Her work has taken her from syndicated comics and graphic novels to off-Broadway shows and collaborative zines.
Barry’s work blends creativity, self-exploration, and education. However, higher education was not a guarantee for Barry. She grew up in Seattle, the child of immigrant parents who did not encourage Barry’s studies. Nevertheless, Barry’s personal life heavily influences her comics. Furthermore, she did find her way into academia — as her work SYLLABUS: NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL PROFESSOR suggests! ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK and ONE! HUNDRED! DEMONS! both explore Barry’s personal experiences. Indeed, many of her other comics allude to her own life. Barry’s later works, including WHAT IT IS, PICTURE THIS, and SYLLABUS are more instructive. Each comic engages with what images can be.