Lynda Takes the Line for A Walk — Abstract for the Transitions 8 Conference

Lynda Takes the Line for A Walk: Attitudes and Philosophies of Drawing in Lynda Barry’s Comics

Transitions 8, 10 November, Birkbeck, University of London (detailed program)

Lynda Barry’s What It Is (2008), Picture This (2009), and Syllabus (2014) are not simply educational or self-help books on making comics, they reveal Barry’s theory about drawing and about creation. In my presentation I examine what Barry’s explanatory texts, creative exercises, and autobiographical comics inserts reveal about her philosophy of drawing.

In her exercises designed for either students or readers to engage in making drawings, Barry emphasizes the importance of bodily engagement in thinking and in creation. This idea appears in comics scholarship as well, but, unlike scholars, Barry thinks of the line as a trace of one’s personality. This way Barry engages in an ongoing discourse on the authenticity/conventional nature of the line in comics. Authenticity in non-fiction storytelling has become possibly the most overinvestigated term in the study of comics autobiography and journalism, but the relationship between the line and the drawer and the line and the story has not been studied that much.

While approaching Barry’s work, I reach back to theories of drawing by Jan Baetens, Hillary Chute, Jared Gardner, Simon Grennan, Philippe Marion, Nick Sousanis, and parallel theories in contemporary approaches to drawing in contemporary art, namely by Karen Kurczynski, Elizabeth A. Pegram, Katherine Stout. Philip Rawson’s Drawing and Laura U. Marks’ recent article “I Feel Like an Abstract Line” have shaped my understanding of the line and provide the starting point of my analysis of Barry’s work.s

As the title of the presentation hints, I believe Barry’s idea of drawing a line is closely related to that of Paul Klee. I will show that, similarly to Klee, Barry considers the line as a partner of the drawer. I also offer close readings of some of the drawing exercises Barry designed for her students and for the reader, and these pages will serve as prompts to illustrate the already mentioned theories on the nature of the drawn line.

barry what it is 157


Roundtables on Literary adaptation comics and animation

The Hungarian Literature Copyright Protection Association and Rights management is organizing a two-day conference on the works and heritage of Jenő Rejtő. The event has two roundtables featuring comics artists, and I will be moderating both. What is more, the location of the conference is at a pub, which is the most fitting place to talk about Rejtő’s novels.

Rejtő was a journalist and writer who died in 1943 in a forced labor camp. His novels are witty, funny, really crazy. The status of his works in the Hungarian literary canon is debated by many, especially by those who prefer the strict separation of high literature and lowbrow whatever. I personally do not agree with that, and I admire the syntax and humor of Rejtő’s sentences and his crazy weird plots. I also believe that he could be nicer to women, but I think that is true to most works from his era. 🙂

Rejtő’s novels have been really influential in the history of Hungarian comics. His novels were adapted into the medium of comics by Tibor Cs. Horváth during state socialism. The most successful artist to draw Rejtő-comics was Pál Korcsmáros. Recently, the heirs of Korcsmáros republish digitally reworked versions of the original comics. The artists making these, Zsolt Garisa and Zoltán Varga, will be the guests of the first roundtable, as well as Márton Hegedűs, who proposed to make a comic on Rejtő’s life, though hasn’t received funding yet. (Are there any future patrons among the readers of this post who would support this project?). The final participant of the discussion is Zoltán Ádám Szabó, whose writings on comics I adore. Btw, Rejtő’s novels are adapted into comics even today, the most recent (and hilarous) publication is The Kidnapped Messenger by Ferenc Kiss and Zsolt Garisa.

The second roundtable on Thursday will be on an animation film in the making, the guests will be director Ferenc Varsányi, art director Dávid Cserkuti, and Péter Gelencsér film cirtic.