It’s a bit difficult for Lynda Barry to concentrate. She’s calling from the Wisconsin State Capitol on the day last week when the final vote on government employees’ collective bargaining was taken, and the roar of a crowd of protesters can be heard in the background. She’s managed to find a quiet spot inside the building thanks to the help of “some really cool little anarchist riot grrrl” who opened a side door.
Despite the odd circumstances, Barry — the cartoonist and author best known for her long-running “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” comic strip — is equally enthused to talk about “the book and democracy.” The book in question is “Picture This,” a drawing how-to, personal memoir, graphic novel and essay mash-up in which she asks why kids start drawing and why adults stop.
“When we’re a kid, a piece of paper is a place — a place for a drawing, a place for something to happen,” she explains. “Then there’s a certain point in our cognitive development where the paper actually becomes a thing. Your drawing of a chair on that paper doesn’t look like that chair you’re trying to draw, and not only can you tell, but everybody else around you can tell, too. And that’s usually when people stop drawing.”
Kill your television
“Picture This” is less a step-by-step instructi-on book than an en-couragement of the creative impulse, which Barry sees suffering in our ever-wired world. “It blows my mind that people have DVD players in their cars for their kids to watch,” she says. “So much of my development as a person came from being bored out of my mind — in math, at church, I came up with the craziest stuff.”
Readings by Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel
April 15, 7:30 p.m.
Newhouse Center at Wellesley College, Free