The A.V. Club reviews PICTURE THIS

“November 5, 2010” / A.V. Club / Keith Phipps, Tasha Robinson, Noel Murray, Jason Heller, Zack Handlen, Leonard Pierce, Oliver Sava & Christian Williams / November 5, 2010

Lynda Barry follows up her beautiful memoir/how-to collage, What It Is, with Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book (Drawn And Quarterly), a book that moves beyond the generalized subject of how artistic creativity gets beaten out of us as we get older, and focuses more specifically on drawing. “Why do we stop drawing?” Barry asks throughout the book. “Why do we start?” Picture This is far more rambling than What It Is (which was itself very freeform), with page after page of loosely related paintings and sketches broken up by the occasional Marlys strip or illustrated essay. And though it’s divided into four sections, Barry doesn’t really build much on her initial ideas about the great societal “DON’T” that stops us from expressing ourselves on a page. Still, even though Picture This is little more than a sketchbook with a theme, the sketches are lively, and the theme profound. Barry writes about how she’s heard “you can’t draw” for her entire cartooning career, and provides a simple, elegant reply: “If I can’t draw, what am I doing?” It’s an inspiring thought, from a different kind of instructional manual, one that offers hundreds of examples of how art is mostly a matter of picking up a pen and starting to scrawl… B+

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