book review: picture this

Years ago in China I read Lynda Barry’s novel Cruddy and didn’t think much of it, but when I heard from the Schulz Library that she was going to be there talking to the cartoonists while I’m on my practicum I figured I should take a look at something she’d done recently. Picture This: The Nearsighted Monkey Book is from 2010, and it’s awesome.

It’s not a story, though there are characters. It’s a book in the best tradition of that Harvey Pekar quote: “Comix are WORDS and PICTURES… WORDS AND PICTURES… you can do ANYTHING with WORDS and PICTURES…” Picture This is that kind of anything.

It’s a book of collage and drawing and found text and watercolours and doodles all kind of about the creative process and about letting your body do your creation and how colouring books aren’t so bad and asking why we get scared to draw and create and yeah. It’s kind of intense. The low density of words on the page doesn’t mean it’s got a low density of meaning. The same doodles show up again and again and they’re the kinds of things you could draw but you didn’t and why didn’t you. It demands a bunch from the reader, including multiple revisitings I think.

I’m pretty excited to meet her next month.

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