What It Is

Lynda Barry

What It Is demonstrates a tried-and-true creative method that is playful, powerful, and accessible to anyone with an inquisitive wish to write or remember. Bursting with full-color drawings, comics, and collages, autobiographical sections and gentle creative guidance, each page is an invigorating example of exactly what it is: “The ordinary is extraordinary.” Lynda Barry 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.

How do objects summon memories? What do real images feel like? These types of questions permeate the pages of What It Is, with words attracting pictures and conjuring places through a pen that first and foremost keeps on moving. Her insight and sincerity will tackle the most persistent of inhibitions, calling back every kid who quit drawing to again feel alive at the experiential level.

status Copy #1 (812): in
Copy #2 (6815): in
genre Biography
publisher Drawn & Quarterly
publish date May 13, 2008
popularity checked out 35 time(s)


  • By Future Man -

    Part philosophy of imagination and the creative process, part creative writing guide and imagination games! Lynda Barry’s sweet and cooky scrapbook style comic art will pry the creativity out of you, whether you like it or not.

  • By Gavin Ray -

    This is an amazing story of learning how to be creative. Not only does it uncover the importance in abolishing foreign creative ideas for one’s own personal flow, but it also poses some very important questions. Such as, “Can we remember something we can’t imagine?”

    The world seems much more complicated now that I’ve read this book, but at the same time I feel more freedom in exploring it. Like, maybe we should play.

  • By Kryss Adams -

    Is this good? Does this suck? Why should these two questions frame the art we make instead of just creating to create? Barry asks all of the right questions.

    In What It Is, Barry explores the source her own creative blocks, closely integrating her creative side with her inner child and unabashedly sharing her own experiences of questioning her self worth as an artist. The book is relatively stream of consciousness, half autobiography and half philosophical, and comes with a helpful workbook in the back that’s full of fun/weird prompts to help exercise yr brain.

    Barry makes it clear that every artist struggles to translate their brain onto paper sometimes, and this book is very inspiring! I can’t recommend it enough, especially if yr stuck in a rut.

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