“Making Comics,” by Lynda Barry

“Making Comics,” by Lynda Barry. Drawn and Quarterly, November 2019. 200 pp. Paperback, $22.95.

Thanks to Fables Books, 215 South Main Street in downtown Goshen, Indiana, for providing Commons Comics with books to review.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Amazon’s super-slow for books right now: you can get books from your local bookstore even faster, Goshen folks! E-mail or call Fables, and you can pick your books up curbside or have them delivered. Contact the store at fablesbooks@gmail.com or call (574) 534-1984 to order.

 And don’t forget about gift certificates, a great way to support Fables, as well as Goshen’s other downtown small businesses during the crisis.

Lynda Barry is like a crazy cat lady for drawings. She gathers and nurtures lonely, awkward, and abandoned drawings, the drawings that you gave up on when they didn’t turn out like you’d planned. “Making Comics,” the most recent book from this artist, novelist, professor, and creativity guru is a weird and beautiful hybrid—per usual for this recently recognized MacArthur “genius.” Part inspirational narrative and part activity book, “Making Comics” teems with recopied drawings that her students threw in the trash or left behind in class. Barry has been taking in stray drawings like these for years, not out of pity, but out of boundless and judgement-free love.

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Local Comix: Goshen Graphix II

Here’s a re-post from 2014 about “Goshen Graphix II,” a book that Goshen College students from my Graphic Novel class released on PinchPenny Press, a project of the English Department at GC.

Drawings from some of those students, as well as students in subsequent classes, are included in an essay of mine about teaching comics that just came out in “Lessons Drawn,” a collection of scholarly essays edited by David Seelow.

Also keep an eye out for my co-edited book, with Hussein Rashid, “Ms. Marvel’s America: No Normal,” which just went into production, and should be out on University Press of Mississippi later this year.

If you want to play around with drawing your own comics, there are lots of how-to books around now, but I especially recommend the books of Lynda Barry, one of the masters of demystifying and democratizing comics.

Stay tuned toward the end of May for a review of a new “picture novel,” “Clyde Fans,” from comics master Seth,  just out on the Canadian press Drawn and Quarterly.

Originally published on GoshenCommons.org on April 1, 2014

April has turned out to be a great month for comics in Michiana. First of all, Gene Luen Yang, the creator of “Boxers and Saints,” which I reviewed back in December, will be speaking on Thursday, April 10, at noon at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids.

Yang is not only a master of his craft—his book “American Born Chinese” was a finalist for the National Book Award—but also a rare combination of super smart, super successful and super approachable. In other words, this is a presentation not to miss.

If the drive to Grand Rapids is too far, however, you can meet some local comics artists at the release party for “Goshen Graphix II” this Friday at Better World Books at 6 p.m.

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Our Superhero Selves

by Anna the massage therapist

Our classes just started at Goshen College, so I’m a bit behind on my review of Lorena Alvarez’s Nightlights. In the meantime, however, I have some fun student work to share with you.

I’m teaching a course on graphic novels this semester. The students are learning about the history of comics and graphic novels, and will create short graphic memoirs of their own by the end of the class.

Part of what we practice as a class is sketching rather than drawing, so that students can create the types of simple, iconic characters that help readers engage more fully with the language of comics. Scott McCloud, in his seminal 1993 work Understanding Comicsa book in comics form about how comics work—illustrates the importance of icons to visual storytelling in these two now-famous frames:

McCloud on icons and realism
Image from understandingcomics177.wordpress.com

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