Cartoonist, author and graphic novelist Lynda Barry will make her Santa Barbara debut tonight at Campbell Hall in an event hosted by UCSB Arts & Lectures.
The lecture, titled “An Evening with Lynda Barry,” will begin at 8 p.m. and is free to UCSB students. A native of rural Wisconsin, Barry is best known for her comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which ran for nearly three decades in 70 nationwide newspapers. The comic revolved around the lives of the quirky yet beloved pre-teen characters, Marlys and Freddie.
Arts & Lecture Associate Director Roman Baratiak said the event will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity since Barry does not make many public appearances.
“I was wildly enthusiastic when she agreed to come out to Santa Barbara because she’s never been here,” Baratiak said. “She doesn’t do a lot of speaking engagements. She lives in very rural Wisconsin on a farm.”
Barry’s creativity in her cartoons and writing has resulted in a myriad of interesting characters that have gained a strong following over the years, according to Baratiak.
“She’s really an amazing cartoonist and graphic novelist. She’s created a number of characters that are much beloved by people who have followed her columns over time,” Baratiak said.
In addition to her work as a cartoonist, Lynda Barry is an award-winning author. Her recent best-selling publications include Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book (2010) and What It Is (2008). Both pieces combine the genres of graphic novel and memoir, while still retaining the style of a how-to book. Her novels discuss the creative processes of writing and making art, accompanied by many of Barry’s own drawings.
According to art history professor Miriam Wattles, the remarkable work that Lynda Barry has brought to the comic and cartoon industry comes from her innate talent, which has been an inspiration to people who may or not be familiar with this kind of artwork.
“I think she’s truly amazing and changing the field,” Wattles said. “She has a lot to tell people in a lot of different areas of what the essence of creativity is about. She’s very inspiring to almost anybody — especially her later work.”
The lecture will feature insight into Barry’s life and work, and many of her pieces will be on display during the lecture to showcase the different components of cartoon and comic style, according to Baratiak.
“She’ll talk about her creative process, where she comes up with ideas for her characters. She’ll have illustrations; she’ll introduce us to the characters that she has created or characters that have flowed from her work,” Baratiak said. “And talk about the process of what it’s like to be a cartoonist and feel that often not considered high art or truly literary.”