Master of the Month :: Lynda Barry

Every month, I introduce my students to a famous artist. I write a kid-friendly biography for each of these Masters of the Month; I display lots and lots of their artwork; and, just for fun, I draw their portraits too.

Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and teacher best known for her comic strip, Ernie Pook's Comeek, and What It Is, an instructional "autobiofictionalography" for which she won an Eisner award. You can read her comics, buy her art, sign up for her classes, or check out her favorite Youtube videos on

It's hard for me to pick a favorite piece by Lynda Barry because I have been affected by so much of her work. Visually, I definitely prefer her more recent, more colorful, more densely collaged books. Emotionally though, I am still moved by Maybonne's observation that "You never know when the beautiful magic of life will happen to you. You never know when all the stars will fall from the sky." And I am always inspired by joyful, spirited Marlys. Who just might be Lynda Barry's alter ego.

I have read several descriptions of the transformative effect that the Dalai Lama has on people who meet him. People are calmed supposedly, awakened to joy, even inspired to live more compassionate lives. It's weird to compare Lynda Barry to His Holiness, but I have met her several times and I have spoken with other people who have met her; The comparison in this case is apt. Even in brief encounters, Lynda Barry makes people feel special. She makes the world seem wonderful, despite the pain. She makes art and writing seem possible and necessary. More importantly, she inspires me to be kind and to do my best. As a teacher myself, I can not imagine a better role model. Lynda Barry is my hero. You can read my biography of her on Illustration Friday.

This portrait of Lynda Barry drawn with thanks to Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-3.0.

© 2011 rama hughes