“I grew up in a house that had a whole lot of trouble,” she said. “As much trouble as you could imagine. In the daily paper, there were all these comic strips, and there was one that was a circle. It seemed like things were pretty good on the other side of the circle. No one’s getting hit. No one’s yelling.”
Once, at a comics convention, she shook hands with Bil Keane’s son, Jeff — Jeffy — who now inks the strip. Barry instantly burst into tears. She told the class why: “Because when he put his hand out and I touched it, I realized I had stepped through the circle. I was on the other side of the circle, the place where I wanted to be. And how I got there was I drew a picture.” She smiled and held her arms out. “The reason I’m standing here in Florida in 2011 is because I drew a picture and wrote some words. The reason you all are here is because you’re interested in doing the same thing. When I think about all the things that this image world has brought me…. I mean, I don’t have health insurance, and dental work is really an issue, but the feeling that life is worth living? Being in this class gives me that in spades.”
Lynda Barry is America’s greatest hero of creativity and saving yourself. She is the Near-Sighted Monkey and if she’s a cult, I want in.