Lynda Barry at Unity Temple

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By Helen Kossler

Reading Between the Lines

by David Pedigo

               Sometimes I feel woefully undereducated when it comes to the comic world. I have some limited experience with Marvel, and a very tiny bit with DC, stemming from the fact I was never such a spoiled child that my parents bought me all twelve comic books they released each week and now being responsible for my own expenses, at least partly (thanks for covering college this semester, Mom), I find that I can’t afford them. When it comes to non-mainstream comics, if I can’t find it on the web, then I probably haven’t read it. Which explains why I didn’t know who Lynda Barry was when I went to go see her at Unity Temple this last Tuesday, January 25.

               After a little bit of gossip and checking up a bio online, the most I really knew was that she was a friend of Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons. Having grown up with a TV, I of course knew who they were, and that was enough of a reason to be at least interested in what Miss Barry would have to say.

               I liked her.

               She still seems very much a flower child, even admitting she got into college because her school was looking for hippies. Even though she spoke only a little about her work, the creativity she possesses was plain to see. Of course, once I saw said work, I immediately realized I knew it. I had often read it in the Funny Times, and it had always reminded slightly of another mad work, the Far Side. Though, to be honest, I think she’s a bit more grounded.

               Mostly, however, she focused that evening on Deep Play, a state you mostly see children in. It’s when it looks like a toy is playing with a child as much as the reverse. According to Barry, it’s in this state that creativity lives, but adults have trained themselves not to play like that. When we try, and little voice asks, “What are you doing? That’s stupid. Why not clean the house?”

               Granted, as my family can contest, my inner voice never asks that (more along the lines of “You could be playing Halo right now”), but I certainly agree with the sentiment. As an aspiring writer myself, I could often see people confuse me working on a story with just goofing off. Or being insane… Apparently being grown but acting out fight scenes by yourself is “immature”.

               All in all, I found Miss Barry to be very interesting. If her comics are even half as much, it’d be worth the money to buy her new book, Picture This.

               In closing, I’ll leave you with some advice I heard that night. “When it’s a blue day, draw a chicken.” (On a completely unrelated note, prior to hearing this, I had doodled a duck in my notes. I’m sure it wasn’t offended by the comment. However, I can’t speak for the chicken.)

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