Lynda Barry

I just picked up a book by Lynda Barry, one of my favorite graphic novelists / illustrators / authors. She has published lots of books in which she narrates and illustrates her childhood. They are brilliantly funny, sometimes sad, and always memorable.

Nowadays Ms. Barry tours the country doing a creativity seminar called “Writing the Unthinkable.” She gets people writing and drawing by coaxing them, and urging them, to remember what it was like to be a kid with a pencil or a crayon. Just color. Just write. Just scribble. Don’t worry too much about the result.

The book I picked up, “Picture This,” is a collaboration between Ms. Barry and her husband Kevin Kawula. It’s about creativity, and writing, and drawing. It features strange characters like “the nearsighted monkey” and “the dear chicken,” as well as some of her older creations like Cousin Marlys. It’s full of collage and watercolor. It’s a feast. I was reading it on the University shuttle the other night, turning page after page, and I realized that the student sitting next to me was reading it along with me. That should tell you something.

Anyway: one of the points she makes in this book is that you just need to keep the pen (or brush, or the cursor, or whatever) moving, in contact with the paper. You need to feel that contact. Make spirals. Draw ballerinas. Write nonsense.

Keep moving forward.

Some of it might be terrible.

Some of it might be wonderful.

Keep filling those notebook pages, kids.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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