Making Comics – By Lynda Barry

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Goodreads Synopsis: For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged.

Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry’s bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand drawn.

Barry teaches all students and believes everyone and anyone can be creative. At the core of Making Comics is her certainty that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

This was was one the of the main books that we read in my Comics and Graphic Novel class (I’ve just realized I keep changing around the order of those words and now I can’t remember which is correct :D).  Also keep in mind that I’m not an artist, but I am interested in writing comics at some point so this review is from a writer’s perspective.

Making Comics is around 200 pages, and a book of that size normally doesn’t take me long to read. But my professor had us reading the book in sections over the whole term. Looking back I’m not sure if I would have liked Barry’s book more or less if I had been able to read it at my normal speed.

Barry takes us on a journey though her ideas of making comics, and what she usually does in her classes.  Which at first I found to be quite interesting. It’s easy to follow and Barry has a fun style of art. Though honestly her classes seem a little intense and I don’t know that I would like being in one.

My main problem was that the book quickly becomes repetitive in its exercises and doesn’t get to the actual ”making” of comics until about halfway through. And by the time she actually got to this part I was uninterested.  To me it felt like Barry spent the first half of her book just trying to prove to the readers that her art style was valid, so that by the time she got around to explain how to make comics I just wanted to throw the book away.

At the end of the book I wanted to have a clearer idea of what making comics looked like and I don’t feel like I had that. I don’t think Barry did what she set out to do. I think she got distracted and defensive.  Hence my rating of 2 stars.  The book needed a clearer purpose, or maybe a different title so that I went into it with different expectations.

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