The creative-drawing companion to the acclaimed and bestselling What It Is.
Lynda Barry single-handedly created a literary genre all her own, the graphic memoir/how-to, otherwise known as the bestselling, the acclaimed, but most important, the adored and the inspirational What It Is. The R. R. Donnelley and Eisner Award-winning book posed, explored, and answered the question: "Do you wish you could write?"
Now with Picture This, Barry asks: "Do you wish you could draw?" It features the return of Barry's most beloved character, Marlys, and introduces a new one, the Near-sighted Monkey. LikeWhat It Is, Picture This is an inspirational, take-home extension of Barry's traveling, continually sold-out, and sought-after workshop, "Writing the Unthinkable."
Amazon Exclusive: A Q & A with Author Lynda Barry
Q: You said in a Comics Journal interview that the book What It is wasn't planned. But that you did fill in gaps once you had pages in a general order. Is this the same process you used for Picture This? And how is Picture This different from the prior book?
A: For Picture This it was pretty much the same process. I start with a question--in this case it was "What makes us stop drawing?" and I make pictures while I think about the question and pretty soon the book just sort of starts to gel. The difference was with Picture This I had to have the pages up on a wall where I could see them. And there were a lot of pages so I had to create 'walls' to put the pages on in my studio--there isn't enough wall space to do it--and it turns out the 4 x 8 sheets of blue styrofoam used for construction insulation worked perfectly. The sheets are long, lightweight, sturdy and really portable. So I could put about 40 pages on each sheet and drag the sheets all over the studio so I could move the pictures around until they started to interact with each other.
I think my biggest challenge was accepting the fact that Picture This is a picture book. It was really hard for me to just put in pictures that weren't comics. I was worried about that. I've never been known for my drawing skills. I was worried that people would feel ripped off.
Q: How has your perception of your audience changed as your work has become more widely known?
A: Well a lot of the people who read my comics are getting older--not just the people who are my age, I'm talking about kids--especially the ones who started reading my work when they were little. I love meeting them now in their twenties and thirties and having them tell me about sneaking my books out of their parents' room, or running into them at the library. I love that. And I love the younger cartoonists I meet because of my work. So maybe my perception of my audience hasn't changed as much as my perception of my work as being something that moves reliably though time.
But the biggest change has come because of teaching my writing workshop for the last ten or so years. It's changed my perception about people in general and the role that images play in our lives. I see people completely differently now because of it--my "audience" now is anyone who has had an urge to write a story or make a picture but is too confused about where to begin and worried about what the point of doing any of this might be.
Q: Do you find any value in misreading of your work by reviewers or your readers?
A: I don't read what people write about my work and when people talk to me about my work I do my best to change the subject as quickly and politely as possible. Sometimes though when people get the name of my books wrong I love it. I really love how "What It Is" became "What Is It" and "This Is It" and "Where Is It" and "What Is That."
But by far my favorite mix up was when someone was telling me how much they liked my book "Cruddy" but they thought the name was "Crappy"--which still cracks me up. I don't correct anyone about such things and my hope is no one ever corrects them. I like that kind of "misreading" the best.
Q: What would you say to someone who asks about the functionality of your books, their purpose?
A: My goal is to make a book for someone who is sitting in the waiting room at the Jiffy Lube while they were getting their oil changed. I want to make books that are picked up by a bored or waiting person who starts to thumb through them and gets drawn in enough so that they stop noticing they are waiting at the Jiffy Lube and instead start to itch to make something with their hands. A picture, or a comic or anything at all. I'm devoted to the idea that the use of images can not only transform our experience of time and space, but also has an absolute biological function that is directly tied to an essential state of being which is this: the feeling that life is something worth living.