Reuben Nominee Profile: Lynda Barry

Lynda Jean Barry – NCS Cartoonist of the Year nominee

Look at that photo above, now look in a mirror – what are you doing? If you are anything like me you are smiling. Every time I see that wonderful young lady I smile. For that alone she should receive awards.

From her agency’s introduction:

Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher and found they are very much alike. The New York Times has described Barry as “among this country’s greatest conjoiners of words and images, known for plumbing all kinds of touchy subjects in cartoons, comic strips and novels, both graphic and illustrated.”

The Guardian described her 1979 – 2008 alternative comic strip:

Ernie Pook’s Comeek is funny, as you would expect, but it’s Barry funny, which means it’s also tragic, morbid and depressing. One of the themes of her career is finding words and visual forms that express the unspeakable and the unthinkable.

Lynda has not just been an author and cartoonist and instructor, she has mastered those pursuits. Well deserving of her Reuben nomination. This is the third year she has gotten nominated for The Reuben. She didn’t win it last year, but she was the recipient of the NCS’ Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented to her by her good friend Matt Groening (see The Guardian article above).

Reuben Weekend is also memorable for another reason – Mary Gell relates that Lynda has talked about what Family Circus meant to her:

“I was a kid growing up in a troubled household. We didn’t
have books in the house, but we did have the daily paper,
and I remember picking out ”Family Circus” before I could
really read. There was something about looking through a
circle at a life that looked pretty good to me.

For kids like me, there was a map and a compass that was
hidden [in] “Family Circus.” The parents in that comic
strip really loved their children. He put that image in
my head and it stayed with me.
I’d always heard that great art will cause people to burst
into tears, but the only time it ever happened to me was
when I was introduced Bil Keane’s son Jeff. As soon as I
realized who he was, I just started bawling my face off
because I realized I’d done it. When I shook his hand, I
realized I had climbed through the circle to the side Jeffy was on.



…it’s not likely that the word “introvert” would spring to mind. [Lynda] talks excitedly with her hands, telling personal stories with the irony, sorrow, and joy of it all coming through in every sentence. Likewise, her comics are sometimes sad, sometimes endearing, but always beautiful, relatable tales.

syfyWire just posted a piece on Lynda.