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Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is one of the most successful non-mainstream American cartoonists around, perhaps best known for her weekly comic "Ernie Pook's Comeek." She is a red-haired half-Philippina. Barry's cartoons often view family life from the perspective of adolescent girls from the wrong side of the tracks -- particularly sensitive, freckled Arna and the cousins with whom she lives: her best friend, pig-tailed Marlys, who is confident and mean, and the older Maybonne, who goes out with boys -- but she often ventures far afield from this.

While Barry's work is humorous, the reader may be as likely to cry (often from self-recognition or childhood memories) as to laugh. It depicts life as harsh but occasionally joyful. Her work addresses themes of intolerance and psychic pain, and at times includes some starkly left-wing political work. Her comics do not strive to depict beauty demonstrate artistic virtuosity -- in that sense being similar to her peers Matt Groening (like her, a graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA), Lloyd Dangle, and Mark Alan Stamaty -- but for all their grubbiness are extremely expressive and evocative.

Barry's relatively recent books include "The Good Times are Killing Me" (also a musical play that appeared off-Broadway), "The Best of Marlys," "The Freddy Stories," "Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel," and "One Hundred Demons" -- the name of her current series published in venues such as Her backlist includes "Everything in the World," "The Fun House," "It's So Magic," "Naked Ladies Naked Ladied Naked Ladies," "Shake a Tail Feather," "Down the Street," "Big Ideas," "Come Over Come Over," "Girls and Boys," and "My Perfect Life." She is married, or at least she was at the time she appeared in a recent PBS documentary on her life and work.