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Cartoonist/Author Lynda Barry to Make Santa Barbara Debut

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents “An Evening with Lynda Barry,” the legendary cartoonist and author, in her Santa Barbara debut at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at UCSB Campbell Hall.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and a book signing will follow the talk.

Queen of the alternative comic strip, inimitable cartoonist and author Barry has blazed many trails over her long career. Her nationally syndicated strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek, featured the wild daydreams, musings and torments of an unforgettable cast of quirky, pimpled pre-teens — beloved Marlys, Freddie and Arna — and ran for nearly three decades in independent weekly newspapers.

Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly is publishing a multi-volume retrospective of her work. On Jan. 22, it released the latest installment: The Freddie Stories, which traces a year of the life of Freddie, the youngest member of the dysfunctional Mullen family, with a new afterword from Barry. Paste Magazine declared the book “a required item for your Comix bookshelf.” Barry is also featured in the new documentary Cartoon College.

In recent years, Barry has written bestselling, award-winning books on creativity for Drawn & Quarterly, Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book (2010) and What It Is (2008). Forged in a literary genre all her own — the graphic novel-memoir-how to book — they feature a visually stunning concoction of the artist’s deeply imaginative drawings and cartoon brush paintings, collage, autobiographical tidbits, suggestions and musings on the process of creative writing and making art.

The books were based on “Writing the Unthinkable,” Barry’s popular creative writing workshop, itself based on what she calls “a tried-and-true creative method that is playful, powerful and accessible to anyone with an inquisitive wish to write or remember.” In the books and workshop, she “explores the depths of the inner and outer realms of creation and imagination, where play can be serious, monsters have purpose and not knowing is an answer unto itself.”

A Wisconsin native, Barry studied at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she got her start drawing comics for the school paper, whose editor was Matt Groening of The Simpsons. The two longtime friends have appeared on cartooning panels together. She lived in Chicago for several years (and dated This American Life’s Ira Glass) before returning to Wisconsin.

Among Barry’s other books are One! Hundred! Demons!; The! Greatest! of! Marlys!; Naked Ladies Naked Ladies Naked Ladies and acclaimed novels Cruddy and The Good Times Are Killing Me, which was made into a play.

Barry’s appearance is part of the Arts & Lectures Winter Festival, two weeks of back-to-back events celebrating A&L’s diverse programming that kicks off the Campaign for Arts & Lectures, the program’s first-ever fundraising initiative.

Tickets are free for UCSB students with a current student ID, and $15 for general admission.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or purchase online by clicking here.

— Karna Hughes is a senior writer and publicist for UCSB Arts & Lectures.

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