Lynda Barry, Graphic Novelist, Cartoonist, and Educator | 2019 MacArthur Fellow


There’s a reason to engage with the arts
that’s so much more than if you made a good picture or you didn’t. I think it has to do with this feeling of
being alive and that life is worth living. My name is Lynda Barry, and I’m a cartoonist, a writer, and a teacher. My comics are about
childhood, and they’re about the kinds of early experiences
people have that make them who they are. Whenever anybody finds out I’m a
cartoonist or a writer, they always say “Oh I wish I could draw, I wish I could
write.” Most people give up on drawing when they think, you know, they can’t draw a nose or they can’t draw hands, but comics leaps right over that problem. Most people can draw comics and
if you can draw comics that means you have access to all
kinds of stories that are in you and all these stories that you’ve
always wanted to tell. I love teaching. What I’m doing isn’t even teaching. It’s
almost like showing people that they already know how to do this stuff. The thing I love the most is to watch
them blow their minds with their own minds. Most people wish that they could draw,
and most people wish they could write, and I think that that wish comes from
some sort of memory of how good it was to tell stories and to draw,
which is what little children do, what little kids do. Drawbridge is a program I started at the university that’s based on the joy of that four year olds
have about being alive in the world and the misery that graduate students
have about being in university. And I had this idea if I could bring those
two together something big might happen — that my university
students might feel less miserable, and my four year olds might feel very excited
about helping someone get their PhD. My new book “Making Comics” is all about
everything that I learned from teaching for the last eight years. They’re
exercises that are fast, they’re cheap because you only need a piece of paper
and a pen. I’m working on a book right now, that I call
it a chimera, because it has too many words in it to be a comic and has too
many pictures in it to be a novel. The whole novel is gonna be handwritten and
hand drawn because of these, because I really I believe in them so much, and I
believe a different story shows up when you do things by hand. The MacArthur for
me — it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me in terms of being able to
facilitate chasing this idea down of what images are, why they exist, and what
happens when people finally have access to having them be part of their
life again.

7 thoughts on “Lynda Barry, Graphic Novelist, Cartoonist, and Educator | 2019 MacArthur Fellow

  1. Couldn't be more happier for Miss Barry, I'm an avid reader of her work and I love her creativity. So happy she won this award! Continue on with the great work and freedom this award allows.

  2. She blows my mind with my own mind! I have never laughed so hard and seen so close to another's experience as I have with Lynda Barry. CONGRATS you have deserved this award for so long!

  3. Oh she is just so wonderful, I feel so happy that she was recognized for this fellowship – she IS a genius and she has inspired so many people. <3

  4. Congratulations Professor Hantu! I'm so happy this is happening to you. You're brilliant and generous and kind and inspiring- rock on!

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