Manuel Betancourt

Post Bang Conference or How Hillary Chute interviewed Lynda Barry

June 14, 2008 · in Comic Books

Post Bang: Comics Ten Minutes After the Big Bang!
Friday, June 6 2008
An all-day symposium on the growing cultural significance of comics curated by Art Spiegelman and Kent Worcester

Blogging about an academic symposium – it seems like an attack on everything I get taught in grad school, but I do feel that the more interesting part of a panel like this is the interactions and the personal reactions from the audience (consider it [retroactive] liveblogging in an academic setting).

8:15-9:30 Hillary Chute interviews Lynda Barry
Hillary Chute (Associate Editor of the forthcoming MetaMaus – and you might remember her from this) and Lynda Barry (well-known painter, cartoonist, writer, playwright, illustrator, editor, commentator, and teacher – which she finds are all alike; author of One! Hundred! Demons!, The Good Times are Killing Me and her most recent book What It Is).

If there is one thing I regret is having had to leave early from Chute and Barry’s interview – after an hour I was convinced Barry is one of the funniest people alive. Seriously, the interview felt more like a one-woman stand up show more so than an intimate talk with a cartoonist, which made this a great way to end a well put-together symposium (kudos!)

Chute began the interview by wondering what Barry means when she says that all her different professions (see above) are all alike. Barry, with the type of humour that would permeate the entire interview made a curious analogy: at the center of them all is an image. Sure it changes in form, but it’s pretty much at the center of all I do. Think of it as hand puppets – you can have a bunny or a snake, but at the center, there’s always the hand. [Kinda makes sense, no? In a Barry-like way]. Instead of doing a disservice to Barry (and probably staying away from stepping on Chute’s toes) I offer you snippets of dialogue from Barry (rather than a full-fledged transcript):

– “For the longest time I thought it was ‘Spy Vee Ess Spy’

– “When I was in college I wanted to be a Fine Artist… a fine fiiine artist!”

– “Comics are my imaginary friends”

– “Matt Groening was very square. He wore slacks and went to a hippie school! I think he wore slacks because he hated hippies and wanted them to hate him.”

– “We always delete what we’re most unsure of, and that’s usually where the ‘image’ is.”

– [after explaining that she wrote her first novel with a paintbrush, as the slow process helped her write it] “And then, I thought… I found it! It’s all about the brush. And I wondered: do they know?… Turns out 3000 years of Chinese calligraphy: yeah they know.”

– “Storytelling is a natural anti-depressant”

– “You know those cereal-trances. Like when you’re eating cereal and you’re like… ‘I wanna name by first baby fructose’…”

And the most alluring of them all:

“Is a dream fiction or autobiographical?”


Check the rest of my commentary/’retroactive liveblogging’ of the rest of the panels:

11:00-12:15 Comics and Canon Formation
1:30-2:45 Comics and Kid’s Lit
3:00-4:15 Comics and the Literary Establishment
5:30-6:45 Comics and the Internet
7:00-8:00 Art Spiegelman and Gary Panter in conversation
8:15-9:30 Hillary Chute interviews Lynda Barry