Lynda Barry had a troubled youth: her parents divorced when she was twelve; she did drugs, found herself at loose ends. Then at sixteen, she got her act together. The intervening hard knocks inform her work and provide perspective and bite. One can imagine her as a seventeen year-old in a Trailways Bus Depot sizing up the other passengers and nailing them with her acerbic drawings. She hits dead center nearly every time. Following her auspicious start on her college newspaper, Barry became one of the leading comic strip artists in what we have come to call the alternative comics scene.
The term is established, but it is not a good fit for her work. The term comes from the fact that her strips were published in the newsweeklies that sprung up around the country as alternatives to the mainline consumer newspapers, the papers that carried Donald Duck, Dick Tracey and Little Orphan Annie. In truth, those comic strips, which are all highly fanciful in their way, portrayed worlds that were far less real than the one Lynda Barry conjured up week after week.
She dealt with life as it unfolds for those for whom life makes no sense, often from the view point of young girls as she did in her "Two Sisters" strip which is included in this volume. These are characters who would change place with Annie in a Seattle second.
Lynda Barry stepped away from drawing her comic strips in 2008 as the alternative newsweekly market shrank to the vanishing point. Now she spends a good deal of her time teaching others how to do what she did, how to write, to draw, to tell their stories. She is very good at it. Her workshops are filled with men and women, old and young and in between, who swear by her.
"Blabber" is the cornerstone of a publishing venture which will, when it is finished nine volumes from now, provide a comprehensive retrospective of Barry's work. What a gift. Future historians who attempt to write a social history of the U.S. in the late 20th, and early 21st Centuries without consulting this archive will do so at their peril. For a complete description of the contents of Volume 1, read the first two five star reviews of the book, those by "rudkr" and Jeddy 3. They are both knowledgeable about her her early comics.
End note. Lynda Barry made a fan of me when I came across a copy of her 1994 coloring book, "Naked Ladies Naked Ladies Naked Ladies Naked Ladies." It contains 56 unique images which, together, comprise a deck of cards with four jokers. It convinced me that Barry intended to show her readers what it's really like out there. For more details check out the title on Amazon. There are still a couple of used copies for sale.