Lynda Barry – A Groovy Kind of Love

For nearly 30 years, the cartoonist Lynda Barry published her adored comic strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” which told the whimsical, hardscrabble story of the young sisters Marlys and Maybonne, in alternative papers across the country. (An anthology, “It’s So Magic,” was published earlier this month.)

[S]ince 2012, Barry, a 66-year-old who in 2019 received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship — the so-called genius grant — has been at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has held various positions and now does cross-disciplinary teaching on creativity. So when it comes to self-expression, to making art, it’s fair to say that she’s an expert. But in many ways, not nearly as much of an expert as your average little kid, which is something Barry has been thinking about a lot lately. “Adults think that kids playing is some nothing thing,” she says. “But play is a different state of mind, and it can help us do so many things if we just allow ourselves to get back to it.”

It started because I noticed that whenever I was in some big creative jam, it was an interaction with a kid that got me out of it. They can really help you when you get stuck.

It’s hard to explain, but it changes you. After you spend about 90 minutes with them, you just find that something has loosened up. You get away from that laser-focused, worrisome way of being.

David Marchese, for The New York Times Magazine, talks to Lynda Barry.

© Lynda Barry