Sunday, October 11, 2009


Wisconsin Book Festival: Lynda Barry injects some "Kapow!" into comic book talk


While Danky and Buhle's presentations of the historical context of underground comix were relatively sedate, the event exploded into vibrant, unpredictable life when Lynda Barry seized the stage, infecting the rest of the panel with her loopy, digressive verve. With her 50s science-nerd glasses and long, gingery curls secured with a jauntily-knotted red bandanna, she resembled one of her own irrepressible characters.

Barry drew the audience into a discussion of favorite and least-favorite comics, including her own surprising pick. "I loved [Bil Keane's] Family Circus because I lived in a violent, difficult home. I used to look at that little circle and think, 'Goddam! How can I get into there from where I am?" She had Danky and Buhle red-faced with laughter as she led the Q& A period, which devolved into a collective reminiscence on beloved comics of the past.

Buhle fondly remembered the erotic promise of the Wonder Woman comics he encountered in his youth, noting, "They were the first books we were ever allowed to purchase, the first thing we stacked neatly. They were the first books we read repeatedly." Danky recalled reading comics in the grocery store while his mother was shopping. "That's how I became a fast reader." He'd save money by reading the titles he found to be of "marginal interest" in the store, and spend his allowance on those he liked best.

Barry closed the panel by encouraging each member of her audience to add his or her own irreverent mash-ups of artwork and words to the canon. "Comics are a fantastic container for experience," she said, suggesting we all start by tracing one of our hands, making a turkey out of the outline, and then drawing a cigarette dangling from its beak.

Full story here.


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