Lynda Barry's Making Comics
Sometimes it’s unbelievable to stop and think that we have been publishing Lynda Barry for 12 years. I still recall the day, waaaaaay back when, when Tom, Chris and I were talking about how much we love Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and wouldn’t it be cool to publish Lynda, do you think she would ever want to published by D+Q? Probably not, we thought, surely some multinational had signed her up. So we devised a plan to convince her to let D+Q be her publisher and she answered not only would she let us be publisher, she had a brand new book! WHAT IT IS.
We all fell in love with WHAT IT IS immediately. Its central question is Do You Wish You Could Write? And then it answers yes you can and how you can. Everyone can. In all its poetic glory, this book makes us believe in our creativity. Lynda made us believe in our creativity. Rightfully so, What It Is has gone one of to be one of the company’s best sellers and perennials.
So much has changed since What It Is and so much has stayed the same. Lynda still teaches her Writing the Unthinkable workshop at schools, community centers around the country, and the Omega Institute every summer. But now she has a day job, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity, at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she teaches comics to non-fine arts students. (what does this mean? It means we may discover wonderful new cartoonists like Ebony Flowers who was earning her PHD in curriculum when she happened upon Lynda at Madison!)
Of course, what really has changed is that the world has caught up with Lynda Barry. We’ve known for years, but now it’s official Lynda Barry is a genius, as she received the MacArthur Grant this Fall. I don’t know any other recipient than Lynda who is so good at their particular craft, has brought so much to their medium, and then goes on to share what they know, and the firm, undying belief that anyone can do this.
And this is what makes MAKING COMICS stand out in Lynda’s already singular creativity books. Rather than a ruminating exploration of what it means to make art, to draw, to write, Lynda shares her steps. She gives us assignments. She gives us a list of tools we need. She tells us to put away our phones. She tells us not be late, and if you miss more than 5 classes, it’s “crying time.” She even tells us how to get an A in her class.
Do me a favour. Do one of her assignments. Draw yourself as Batman. Keep a diary. Do 4 drawings in 12 minutes. Take time for yourself. Take care of yourself.