Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

I really loved One Hundred Demons. It's a very unique book, and I'm not quite sure how to go about describing it, except with words like awesome or delightful. It's not quite a graphic novel, though the stories are interwoven. Barry calls herself a cartoonist, though to me, cartoons are animated and comics are on paper. She calls this book "autobifictionalography" because parts of it are true and parts are made up. I think that like many storytellers, she embellishes where it's necessary to make the story more fun. The book is full of pop-culture references from the time she was growing up (she was born in 1956), quite a few of which I caught. If you were born in the fifties, you'll probably catch even more, maybe all of them.

The book started out as a painting exercise. She read about a monk who painted a hundred demons on a handscroll in 16th century Japan and decided to try the project herself. The book itself doesn't focus on all one hundred demons, though there are probably at least a hundred painted around the borders. Instead, Barry chose a handful of demons, many of which may be familiar to you, and wrote stories about them. Below is the beginning of one story, featuring one of my own personal demons, dogs, with whom I have a love-hate-allergic-fear relationship.

Other demons/stories I identified with were "Girlness" and "My Worst Boyfriend" and "The Election" and "Common Scents."

The image above looks a bit washed out on my monitor, and maybe yours, so here's another one where you can see the intense color she uses, a feature which really made the book for me. I would have loved it just for Barry's humor (especially as a highlight for actually serious topics) and self-deprecation and story-telling skills, but the lush gorgeousness of the art was icing on the cake.

Barry has many other books, and as soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to add them all to my wishlist.


Rebecca Reid said...

I'm very intrigued by the term: "autobifictionalography" and the images look nice. I've never read a graphic novel before and this sounds like a lighter one to get in to.

Alessandra said...

I love the drawing style on this one! The images look very nice.

Also, "autobifictionalography" is a very interesting word.

Bybee said...

I was hysterical with laughter the way she drew her mom and the bad boyfriend!

mariel said...

What an unusual style! Certainly not what springs to mind when I think of graphic novels. I find that they are usually quite dark and monochrome, or comic book style with bright colours, but this is very different! I'm still relatively new to the world of graphic novels, Persepolis being my favourite so far, but I'll definitely look this one up! Thanks.