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Genius At Work: Lynda Barry

Genius At Work: Lynda Barry

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Source: Lynda Barry, courtesy of Drawn and Quarterly
Source: Lynda Barry, courtesy of Drawn and Quarterly

I first came across Lynda Barry's work in the back of some zine I picked up at Tower Records in high school... Ernie Pook's Comeek. Protagonist Marlys was just what I needed at the time: someone more awkward, less popular, and less attractive than myself who somehow summoned up 48x the sass at all times, even though she was just a kid. Marlys was the one who told you how it really was (and was often wrong), and didn't seem to care one bit about what other people thought (and with a name like Marlys, how could she?). I love Barry's chaotic black-and-white panels, but as I flipped through her newest book, What It Is, I realized what many more dedicated fans have long known: She's an incredible artist whose illustrations are just... WOW. Now I know I've got a lot of back-Barry to catch up on — where do you suggest I start? What's your favorite Barry strip or collection?