If Barry’s last instructional book, Syllabus (2015), helped encourage readers to get in the right frame of mind to cultivate creativity, this latest, which follows a similar format, gives concrete tips for developing a comics-making practice. Barry opens with an introduction ruminating on her framework for teaching and general philosophy about drawing: “I wondered if I could teach what I knew about the power of comics as a way of seeing and being in the world and transmitting our experience of it.” From there, we’re treated to page after hand-written page of exercises, lessons, and examples designed to help break ingrained habits and create without second-guessing. Beginning with game-like exercises (e.g., “Scribble Monster Jam,” which involves filling in a free-form doodle to create a monster character), each lesson adds a new level of technique, such as scene setting, character development, dialogue, point of view, and so on, ultimately ending with what amounts to a comics tool box, containing prompts to enliven the creative process. The hand-written pages, doodled margins, and off-the-wall characters (I’m looking at you, Professor Hot Dog) might make this seem silly, but there’s a serious theoretical underpinning here, and Barry’s lighthearted and genuinely fun approach is directly in service of it: banishing your inner critic, developing a disciplined (but playful) practice, and dismantling beliefs about what constitutes a “good” comic is key to finding something organic, original, and true.
This title has been recommended for young adult readers:
YA/S - special interest: Aspiring teen cartoonists will find a wealth of valuable insights and exercises in this lively, playful, and empowering resource.