Books about creativity generally fall into one of two areas. One, ways to wring profitable, corporate creative work out of people who spend their lives pigeonholed in non-creative jobs; and two, books for already creative “uncommercial” artists more comfortable at Burning Man than Starbucks.
And then there’s Lynda Barry, creator of the books What It Is and Picture This, who is an undefinable writer/artist that teaches creativity by simply being creative. In 1993 she released the spoken-word album The Lynda Barry Experience, the title of which pretty much sums it up.
Barry, Funk Queen of the Galaxy (according to The Simpson’s Matt Groening), is a novelist, cartoonist, collage artist, teacher, and accordion enthusiast. Born in Wisconsin, Barry is one quarter Filipina, one quarter Norwegian, and half Irish. She created the underground Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and once dated radio host Ira Glass.
Her novels Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel and The Good Times Are Killing Me are jam sessions of quirky characters and childhood memories. Good Times was made into an off-Broadway play, and her book One! Hundred! Demons! was serialized on Salon.com.
Lynda Barry’s 2008 book What It Is, an Eisner Award-winner for “Best Reality-Based Work,” and 2010’s Picture This, are not books to read—they are books to fall into, like Alice fell into the rabbit-hole. Both are meditations on the art of creativity. Barry’s imagination is so rich in wit, thought, and image you need to digest each page thoroughly before moving on.
The integration of playfulness and depth is so intertwined it’s like trying to decide what morsel of a gourmet dish you liked the best. Equal parts pathos and screwball humor with secret Funk Queen ingredients, Barry’s books are a big pink Cadillac picking up hitchhikers on the way to Coolsville.
Barry’s other books include Everything in the World, The Fun House, It’s So Magic, Down the Street, Big Ideas, Come Over Come Over, Girls and Boys, The Greatest of Marlys, The Freddie Stories, and My Perfect Life.
It’s the Lynda Barry Experience. Hop in and hit the gas.