The Internet is my benefactor.

*In a short follow-up to something I mentioned the other day, I finally got a hold of Drawn & Quarterly's Free Comic Book Day thing from this year, a little pamphlet titled Activity Book, which is actually an excerpt from Lynda Barry's Spring 2008 project What It Is. I didn't manage to find any loose copied sitting around in stores, by the way - luckily, someone with an extra copy heard my cries and gave me free comics succor, which was nice.

I'm pretty glad I got a copy of this book, because it strikes me as one of the most personal of the 'How To Make Comics' projects that tend to proliferate on FCBD, being essentially a series of excercises the reader can perform in order to get their storytelling juices flowing. Lots of emphasis on observation, and (moreover) developing skills in transmuting silent personal observations into something that might eventually resound on the page. It's not so much geared toward the communicative, in the writer-audience sense, but the writer's own solitude in processing the stuff of past and present surroundings into the stuff of stories. As a result, it naturally adopts a more personalized feel, as Barry cannot avoid spilling out her own interior workings in teasing out better workings within the reader.

I think I was most struck by the element of anxiousness in the book, a real grasp of how little illusion barriers crop up to impede progress toward storytelling, especially the simplest illusion of believing, simply, that you don't have much of interest to say. Barry is wise enough to know that a mere ticking off of events in a person's life doesn't really make for good stories, nor does purely swimming in emotion - she posits the wielding of the 'image' as necessary, that being not necessarily drawings but charged things that crackle with the stuff of living, as opposed to the 'obituary' nature of facts' simple relation. Above all, the act of creation is held up as a self-evident good, one that needs no attachment to the validation of capital or reknown to better the outlook of the creator - this isn't a recipe for 'breaking in' to any industry or whatnot, but a genuine attempt to promote what Barry sees as the betterment of life itself.

As a result, it doesn't care much to deal with 'styles' or trends of the sort - heaven knows some readers may find Barry's own patchwork visual approach to be cluttered, although her linework is disarmingly smooth and lovely. I appreciated it as a dumping out of the contents of one head to facilitate further dumpings on the part of the reader, and I think it's a worthy FCBD pursuit to put out a book of that sort.

So, I'm saying I'm glad I got the thing. I do believe D&Q will send you a copy with any order from their online store, if you can't find one and don't want to wait until Spring 2008.