posted September 8, 2005

Visiting Writers Series to Open with Lynda Barry

The Hope College Visiting Writers Series will open its 2005-06 season with a reading by acclaimed cartoonist, novelist, and comedian Lynda Barry on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

A painter, illustrator, teacher, and writer, Barry was born in 1956 and began drawing comics in 1977 while attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

Today, Barry is considered one of the pioneers of the alternative cartoon scene. Her strip, "Ernie Pook's Comeek," appears in weekly newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as on Salon.com. The comic features many memorable characters, including the beloved Marlys. Barry's work has appeared in "The New York Times," "LA Times," "Newsweek," "Esquire," "Madamoiselle," "Mother Jones," and many other national publications.

Barry adapted her first novel, "The Good Times Are Killing Me," into a play, which has been performed throughout North America. Her second novel, "Cruddy," was named one of the 10 best books of 1999 by "Entertainment Weekly" and selected for the "Booksense 76" list by the American Booksellers Association. "The New York Times Book Review" called it "a work of terrible beauty."

But Barry is best known and loved for her unusual and beautiful cartoons; she is the author of 14 books in all. Her newest book, "One Hundred Demons," collects a series of memoiristic strips that appeared in Salon.com's popular "Mothers Who Think" section.

"Lynda Barry has no peer .... We're approaching a word not commonly used when talking of cartoons: oeuvre," said "The New York Times Book Review."

Long considered a pioneer of the alternative comic scene, Barry has been drawing comic strips for more than 20 years, garnering critical acclaim and a cultish fan base. Her first comics were published without her knowing her it by college-friend Matt Groening, later the creator of "The Simpsons."

In addition to her writings, her commentary has aired on National Public Radio and she has made appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman." Barry was also recognized by the National Cartoonists Society as a "Virtuoso Cartoonist."

Of her work, the "Utne Reader" has said, "Hilarious, loving, and painfully accurate, Barry's comics continue to feature some of the best writing about childhood and adolescence."

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located at 86 E. 8th St. in downtown Holland. The reading will be preceded by a free performance by the Hope College jazz ensemble beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Additional information may be obtained online at www.hope.edu/vws.