Books: Beyond the Funny Pages

Lynda Barry tells her life story in comic strips

Is there anything in life more comfortably certain than a comic strip? In the first two panels, our hero gets into a scrape, in the last panel something funny happens, and then you're free to get busy solving the Jumble. But Lynda Barry's comic strips work backward: you laugh at the first few panels, and the last panel leaves you feeling sadder and wiser.

Barry's new book, One Hundred Demons (Sasquatch; 224 pages), may be her breakthrough, but she's been perfecting her distinctive take on the funny pages since she was a kid in Seattle. "I started selling my drawings pretty...

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