American cartoonist and author Lynda Barry (born January 2, 1956) is as much a storyteller as she is a visual philosopher. From her 1999 graphic-novel-turned-off-Broadway-hit The Good Times Are Killing Me, exploring the interracial relationship between two girls, to her long-running, deeply empathic weekly comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, Barry’s instantly recognizable works are invariably imbued with equal parts humor, irreverence, sensitivity, and wisdom.

In 2009, her graphic novel What Is, published the previous year, received an Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work. But perhaps the most remarkable quality of Barry’s work is precisely its defiance of reality — the whimsy and wit with which she blurs the line between the real and, to borrow Sartre’s term, the irreal to peel away at some simple truth or grand complexity of what it means to be human.

January 21, 2013


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