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One! Hundred! Demons!

One! Hundred! Demons!

5.0 1
by Lynda Barry

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Buddhism teaches that each person must overcome 100 demons in a lifetime. In One Hundred Demons, a collection of 20 autobiographical comic strip stories from Salon’s popular “Mothers Who Think” section, Lynda Barry wrestles with some of hers in her signature quirky, irrepressible voice. From “Dancing” and “Hate” to


Buddhism teaches that each person must overcome 100 demons in a lifetime. In One Hundred Demons, a collection of 20 autobiographical comic strip stories from Salon’s popular “Mothers Who Think” section, Lynda Barry wrestles with some of hers in her signature quirky, irrepressible voice. From “Dancing” and “Hate” to “Dogs” and “Magic,” the tales included here are at once hilarious and heartbreaking. As she delves into the delights and sorrows of adolescence, family, identity, and love, Barry’s ear for dialogue, dead-on delivery, and painterly style showcase her considerable genius.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As anyone who's read her comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek or novel Cruddy knows, Barry has a pitch-perfect sense of the way kids talk and think. Childhood's cruelties and pleasures, remembered in luminous, unsparing detail, have become the central topic of her work. The semi-autobiographical vignettes of this new work, originally serialized in Salon, follow the same basic format as the strip: blocks of enthusiastic first-person commentary at the top of each panel, squiggly, childlike-but stylized-drawings and dizzy word-balloon dialogue between the characters. Here, though, Barry gets a chance to stretch out, drawing out her memories and impressions into long, lively, sometimes sweet and sometimes painful narrative sequences on a seemingly endless list of curiously compelling topics: the scents of people's houses (one is "a combination of mint, tangerines, and library books"), dropping acid at 16 with a grocery bagger, the colors of head lice and the art of domesticating abused shelter dogs. The structure of the book is a drawing exercise that allows a hundred demons to flow out of the artist's pen onto paper. Barry's demons are the personal objects and effects that remind her of the in-between emotional states from her early life. The result is simultaneously poignant and hilarious-never one at the expense of the other-and so are her loopy, sure-lined drawings, which make both the kids and the adults look as awkward and scrunched-up as they feel. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Graphic novels are enjoying increased popularity and accessibility in public libraries, and young adults are certainly drawn to their unique and original form. Noted cartoonist and author Barry creates a remarkably colorful, dark, and personal autobiographical book of her thoughts and experiences. Graffiti-like drawings fill each page, requiring the reader to marvel closely at her work. One feels like tracing over some of her intricate patterns, faces, and flowers, Coming-of-age themes lurk behind these light images, leaving a lasting impression of Barry's outrageous view of the world. The gruesome trauma of head lice slides into common scents and emotions, then quickly moves into Barry's opinions, such as "today's demon: resilience" and "girlness" and "lost and found." Pets, teen sexuality, and grown-ups recur through individual moments of childhood, and the clash of generations is fabulously illustrated in picture and text. The last pages detail Barry's craft with photographs of the artist at work. This reviewer read and reread this awesome work, carefully deciding with whom to share it next. Adult themes, adolescent concerns, and outstanding artwork combine in a wonderful addition to the graphic novel collection in a public or high school library. Although readers will feel as if they have come to know the author through these pages, they will wish for the opportunity to meet her. Illus. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S A/YA G (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult~G). 2002, Sasquatch Books, G216p,
— Nancy Zachary
Library Journal
Cartoonist and novelist Barry (The Good Times Are Killing Me) has published several books of comics, notably those featuring the lively young Marlys, the self-proclaimed "#1 groover on life." This oblong (10" x 6") book, featuring comics that first appeared on Salon.com, is her first hardcover collection and her first book in color. It's a series of 17 semi-autobiographical stories about the things from our pasts that haunt us. From "Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend," Barry moves on to the dark side of the hippie dream and moving stories that touch on childhood, adolescence, and loss of innocence. Barry's text-heavy panels fit a lot of story into a few pages, and her childlike drawings seem almost designed to encourage budding artist readers. The title comes from an Asian painting exercise that inspired the book; with any luck, Barry will keep going until she reaches the magic number. Suitable for teens but more highly recommended to adults, who will identify with Barry's air of reminiscence and regret.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Barry uses an Asian painting exercise called "One Hundred Demons" to organize and connect 17 "autobifictionalographic" stories in which she meditates on a variety of demons that include pretentious boyfriends, lost childhood friends, family relationships, and even the 2000 presidential election. The author's keen observation and honesty draw readers to these sometimes painful, often poignant moments. In "Dancing," she explains that almost everyone in her family danced with great pleasure. Then a casually cruel comment from an admired neighbor made her self-conscious enough to stop. "Resilience" explores the mistaken belief of some adults that young children who have experienced a trauma will somehow forget and move past it. Here Barry allows speech balloons to fill in the gaps to which she alludes in her main text, with heart-wrenching effect. A more lighthearted story deals with the unique smells that permeate homes. Most of each story is told in text blocks at the top of the panel, while speech balloons convey specific details and characterizations. Barry's artwork is almost childlike, and the awkwardness of her drawings works well with the emotional tone her tales evoke. In the last few pages, she demonstrates the technique used for the original exercise and encourages readers to draw from their own experiences. This is an amazing collection, and those who connect with it will come away with a deep appreciation for Barry.-Jody Sharp, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Barry’s new book, One Hundred Demons, may be her breakthrough … it’s a work of art as well as literature…One Hundred Demons deserves a place on the shelf with serious graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus…"
Time magazine

"Lynda Barry has no peer ... We're approaching a word not commonly used when talking of cartoons: oeuvre."
—Dave Eggers, The New York Times Book Review

"Cartoonist Lynda Barry faces her demons . . . in this bold, graphic memoir inspired by a Zen painting exercise. With a combination of eloquent words and sloppy rendering, these demons are both unique and universal. At the end of the book, Barry encourages readers to draw their own."
—The Huffington Post

Product Details

Sasquatch Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.74(w) x 6.28(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Lynda Barry's comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek appears in 20 weekly newspapers in the United States and Canada. Her work has been seen in The New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, and many other publications. She lives in Wisconsin.

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One Hundred Demons 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are certain random geniuses for whom no traditional form of expression is quite adequate, and the true geniuses -- like Lynda Barry -- invent their own. To call these amazing works of art "cartoons" or "comic strips" falls short. In fifteen illustrated chapters of "autobifictionography" Barry takes on the demons -- societal, psychological, and personal -- that haunt us all. From lost childhood to stolen elections, her unique voice speaks to the fear and hilarity that thread their way though every human life. No one can match Barry's articulation of the emotional lives of damaged children. And let's face it -- weren't we all?