Lynda Barry remembers being a kid better than anyone else on the planet, as evidenced by her funny, painful, poignant cartoon, "Ernie Pook's Comeek." Her comic, which ran in alternative and underground newspapers for 30 years, tells the adventures of 8-year-old Marlys Mullen and her 14-year-old sister Maybonne, a stand-in for Barry herself. Long out of print, the collection "Come Over, Come Over" has been reprised by Drawn & Quarterly. It covers topics near and dear to the heart of any 14-year-old (and, frankly, to people of any age) — envy, betrayal, haircuts, babysitting, summer, crushes, divorce.
Everything about this book will feel familiar. ("In health we're doing the digestive system," Maybonne writes to a friend. "We each got assigned a topic for an oral report. I got the small intestine. I swear to God I hate my life.")
Barry is a winner of a MacArthur genius grant, and no wonder — her cartoons can make you feel nostalgia, sorrow, joy and fury over the course of four panels. (Also: what it feels like to take your first drink and have your first hangover.) The heart of this collection is "Sneaking Out," a 24-page comic that shows, in so many ways, Maybonne on the cusp of growing up. What a miracle this book is.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune.
Come Over, Come Over
By: Lynda Barry.
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly, 127 pages, $21.95.