I went to see Lynda Barry talk at the Portland Art Museum. She gave an amazing lecture about the role of images and art in the life and health of human beings. She also talked about growing up in a violent home, sitting there at the kitchen table with stuff going on behind her reading Family Circus, and how much she loved the comforting, predictable world there. She talked about how drawing became a way for her to enter into another world.

She also said she had been told that great art could make you cry, and hoped that someday this would happen to her. But it didn’t, even when she saw great masterpieces. But then she went to a convention with many well-known cartoonists and met the man who drew Family Circus, and started crying uncontrollably. She said that the moment that she shook his hand it was like she had passed through the little circle of Family Circus, and her drawing had become a method of transportation for her life.

I have loved Lynda Barry’s comics and books for years but never thought I would ever EVER EVER meet her. I have made small zines with my art in them before but it was only very recently that I finished Foreign Land, Strange People, which is bigger and looks like a real comic book. I handed it to her and told her that she was a huge inspiration to me.

She told me to keep drawing, and I told her that it was all I do, and that I can’t stop. She looked at me and said, ‘Yes, it’s the reason to keep living’. She also said that her teacher had inspired her in the same way she was inspiring me, and it was like a hose (rope?) and the next artist was holding the next part and we were handing it to each other, moving forward. She looked at my art and smiled!!!

She said that she was disappointed that handwriting isn’t being taught in schools any more, and I said I remembered hearing about it and thinking it was awful, and wondering how kids of the future are going to take notes in class. And she took a picture with me!

I don’t really remember what else she said, other than saying, “I look forward to reading this” many times. She said she would read it on the plane, and it really makes me smile to think of one of my biggest heros flying above me on an airplane reading the words and seeing the drawings I have made over the past three years, not thinking anyone would ever read or want to read them.

-EHT 10/23/10

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