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Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book Hardcover – November 9, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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  • Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description

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.




From Booklist

The creator of the weekly Ernie Pook�s Comeek follows up What It Is (2008) with this equally inspiring and inspired guide to freeing the creative potential within even the most tightly buttoned reader. Barry introduces the Near-Sighted Monkey, who joins her beloved character Marlys in leading readers through imagination-loosening exercises in doodling and coloring as well as snippets of sly storytelling and fact revealing. At times the Near-Sighted Monkey channels Barry�presenting information about how the cartoonist approaches her own work�and also offers very monkey-centric tidbits, such as when to talk about banana peels. Marlys fans will find plenty of satisfaction here, but adults and older teens who crave the opportunity to regain the pleasures they found in childhood creativity will also be thrilled with this volume. Although this book makes a good companion for What It Is, there is no need to be familiar with that title before cracking this one. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Product Details

  • Series: Petits Livres
  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897299648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299647
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By V. Lewis on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just thumbing through this book makes me feel like a kid again. The idea of painting and drawing on lowly 'binder paper' rocks my line art graphic mindset. There are a myriad of creative trails to follow and I've just begun the journey. There is such honesty in the pages, such a wonderful mix of spirit, technique, angst, and fun in a book about making art. Maybe "expressing ourselves" is a better term than "making art". Lynda Barry helps you open the door to expression.

My favorite quote from the book so far is "The worst thing I can do when I'm stuck is to start thinking and stop moving my hands."

I'm off to do a mood doodle and follow along with Marlys, Arna and the cephalopod.
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This may not be for everyone, but if you know and love Lynda Barry's work, you'll love this book. I felt as if I was traveling into the inky recesses of my own mind while hitching a ride through Lynda's process to make art. What a gift. If you ever felt like something was stopping you from enjoying drawing, or painting or any kind of art, then this is a gentle reminder of what art can be, if you let it. You may find yourself wanting to skip around the pages, but I suggest letting the book's story unfold from beginning to end. It's worth it!

You may not experience it the way I did, but I feel like this book changed my life.

Thank you, Lynda Barry!
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Endlessly entertaining and filled with inspiring images and examples. No wonder everyone loves Lynda Barry so much. If you are a writer, a photographer, a painter, an artist of ANY sort, you will find something to like in this.
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This is a great book. It asks the question- why do people stop drawing? It encourages you to rediscover your inner doodler and is great fun to look at and read. I would buy one for all my friends and especially for myself!
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I picked this book up for two reasons: I really liked What It Is, and it was at the library in plain view (the first time I'd seen it existed). I had no expectations, but I was thoroughly impressed.

As a standalone book, I think Picture This is good. I don't think it's as powerful, or wholly realized as What It Is was. This is a more contemplative, less narrative follow-up to some of the themes and ideas. It is quite successful at being a follow-up, or a second attempt at this idea.

For me, it is equally as engaging as it is compelling me to put it down and pick up a pen, or a brush, or anything and to put it to paper. I am by no means talented in that respect, but the way that Barry uses the simple practice of drawing as a means to meditate, to reflect, and to control ones digestion of all those inner thoughts and feelings that can be carried around through a life, that's where this book worked well for me. It is not particularly an art-instruction book, but a picture book that wants to consider how can you be better for having made marks on paper that may or may not amount to anything?

I enjoy photography, and I enjoy it much for this reason. I don't know that I necessarily want a result from a picture, but I want the feeling of creating that picture where I lose myself in the process and everything else fades away. That is a very personal and specific thing at times, and I think that Barry does an excellent job of offering up a path to achieve, or at least be aware of that in some way through this book.
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Format: Hardcover
If I were stranded on a desert island with only one book, I'd take Picture This (What It Is would be the closest contender). Each page is a whole world. Reading the book takes me back to when I read as a kid--totally absorbed, not wanting to leave, carrying the feel of it around with me for the rest of the day. Lynda Barry gets to the root of our urge to create and to enter into others' creations. It's part of our nature, according to her, something we're born with and for some reason lose as we get older. Radical! The book is fun, creepy, beautiful, and mind blowing. Lynda Barry rules, period.
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This book is chock full of wonderful inspiration from Lynda Barry. It has lifted me out of my painting doldrums and put me back at ease in front of a blank sheet of paper. Actually, I've been painting on newspaper lately, a la Lynda. This book is rich in philosophy, inspiration, hope and wonder. I've bought multiple copies to hand out as gifts, and finally, one for myself. I had kept the library copy out past its due date and realized I needed to have my own copy to keep close at hand. Just had to buy it.
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Chances are, if you're reading this, you're already a Lynda Barry fan. Her imagination are graphic novels are so rich and wonderful. I love The Near-Sighted Monkey and actually have it as a coffee table book so my guests can enjoy it!
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