from graphic novel guest blogger, Francisca Goldsmith:
Lynda Barry’s public career as a cartoonist began in a variety of alternative newspapers thirty years ago. Since then, she’s become well recognized, not just as a humorous and insightful comic strip powerhouse but also as a teacher who can encourage those who have never before explored their creative abilities to let down the guards of their own fears, pick up a pen or pencil and let it flow. The first volume of Blabber, Blabber, Blabber shows how these sparks and igniters all developed for Barry herself. Unlike some retrospective volumes, she isn’t looking back over the building of an empire; she is in midstream in her life and offering views of how she got to this point—and how readers can try stepping on the stones of chance and effort to get to midstream (and beyond) as well.
The loopy, naïf cartoons that give us almost frighteningly acute glimpses inside the selfishness of children, the ignorance of adults, and the interplay between folks carry a surprising amount of tiny detail: the titles of textbooks, instructions on placemats—here are funny bits that weren’t so evident when the comic was printed on cheap absorbent paper instead of this nice package.
Barry and her editors have got the mix and extent of this volume just right, too: the runs of Ernie Pook’s Comeek, Two Sisters, and other strips aren’t too long but just long enough to provide a substantial taste and whet the appetite for more. This is a series that stands a good chance of finding a place in many teen hearts and minds to come.
BARRY, Lynda. Everything: Comics from Around 1978-1981. vol. 1. illus. by author. 175p. (Blabber, Blabber, Blabber Series). Drawn & Quarterly. 2011. Tr $24.95. ISBN 978-1770-46052-2. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School– Here’s a treasure trove for teens who are either cartoonists or sensitive to the quirks of irony, adolescence, and family and other hazards, or both. In what promises to be a multi-volume retrospective of her work, Barry shows readers the first inceptions of “Ernie Pook’s Comeek”; how she came to change up her original run of “Two Sisters,” another strip that ran in alternative papers 30 years ago; and “Boys and Girls,” yet another series that gave her the visual and insightful muscles needed to develop her later strips featuring Arlys and other realistically uncute children. The volume also offers pages from Barry’s high school and college scrapbooks, giving readers a view on what the cartoonist found interesting in the material culture of the period, as well as candid snapshots of her, her family, her friend Matt Groening (The Simpsons), and little cartooning exercises that can be understood either as gags or useful prompts for nascent artists. Nicely produced without turning the substance into glossy surfaces to be admired rather than mined, this is an excellent way to introduce a new generation to a master of self-exploration and good-humored absurdity.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA