Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Funk Queen

Lynda Barry is a writer, artist, illustrator. Reading her color-soaked cartoon books is like getting a note passed to you in class and when you open it, you find a funny joke with cool pictures drawn and doodled by one of your favorite friends. I started collecting her books years ago and, with the exception of one entitled "Naked Ladies, Naked Ladies", I have them all. Most are out of print. Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, is a longtime friend and contemporary of Barry's. His early cartoon efforts "Life in Hell" frequently contained tiny odes to Barry such as "Lynda Barry is Funk Queen of Here, There and Everywhere". Her books included title page messages like "Matt Groening is Funk Lord of USA".
Barry's world is one where kids and teenagers hold court. Characters say things we remember our friends and enemies saying to us and worlds collide in the occasionally-lucky but often-cruel manner that typifies the unfolding adolescent life. It's the kind of truth that makes you feel safe because you've been there before, though when it's not making you laugh it's making you wince. Anyone who lives in Seattle should feel that they're lucky to live in the same city as Lynda Barry. How cool would it be to be her neighbor? When weird stuff happened to you during the day, you could walk through your backyard fence into her yard and let yourself in through her kitchen door. You could sit around eating Chinese out of a carton and watching her use an inkstone and brush to do her pictures and you could tell her about the crazy man on the next block who feeds his dog lima beans and it would seem totally normal. Here's the cartoon that started it all for me. Click to enlarge and enjoy!


Blogger Neil said...

I love Lynda Barry's work. I'm very surprised to hear that her books are out of print.

1:07 AM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

Lynda Barry always cracked me up. I used to wonder if she was related to columnist/humorist Dave Barry but I'm guessing not is she's in Seattle.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

I'd never heard of her. Now, thanks to you, I look forward to checking out her work! That poodle cartoon is hilarious.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Love it. It reminds me of an artist that illustrated a funny book about teenagers... I'm going to have to think of it now because I know you'd love it.

It was a little like an American version of Diary of Adrien Mole. Let me think on it....

(OH! and the other book was something like A Ship Made of Paper or something - do you remember? About the guy having the affair?)

10:30 AM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

Oh yes. Poodle with a Mohawk. I think the first time I saw that was on a t-shirt at Tremmel T-shirts on lower Greenville Ave many years ago. I love that cartoon. Thanks for reminding me about her!

10:39 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Okay, I finally found the book (by somebody-or-other Ephron). This is it, and if you ever get a chance to read it, tell me if it's as funny as I remember...

Edward Koren is the illustrator that reminded me of Barry.

4:20 PM  
Blogger LetterB said...

All hail the SuperFunk Monarchs of the Universe.

My aunt (the one i live around the block from now) went to college (evergreen, go gooeyducks) with Lynda and Matt (as she calls them). She also used to live in Lynda Barry's old apartment in Seattle and the screen door on the back had a big punched tin panel of two of her characters embracing. I mean, it was beyond cool. I feel very connected to Marlys and reading linda barry's cartoons always made me feel like less of a freak. Thanks for the post!

10:06 AM  
Blogger marsha_tm said...

I, too, am a huge Lynda Barry fan. It's not often you meet anyone that's even heard of her. I remember first hearing about her when I was in a book store in Seattle, and started collecting her books after that.

Remember Ernie Pook's Comeek?

6:48 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I do remember Ernie Pook. Funny stuff

8:03 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I've seen the poodle cartoon, but didn't really know the illustrator.

But, now I do!

10:28 PM  

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