Isn’t it great when a book not only entertains you but sparks your interest enough that you seek out more information on the subject? One book that really challenged me to try something new was One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry.
This was my first read for the Graphic Novels challenge and it’s turned out to be one of my favorite books this year already. The book, which she describes as a work of “autofictionalography”, focuses on family life viewed from a young girl’s perspective. Barry was prompted to start the book after she read about an exercise where you draw the demons that haunt you. Using single word notecards, chinese calligraphy brushes and ink she draws out stories on dancing, music, resilience, and other subjects.
Whether the stories are real or not they are haunting. She recreates the world of a childhood filled with hurts, loneliness, and examines her dysfunctional family. Her drawings may be simple yet are able to convey so many emotions that whether or not your own experience is similar to the author’s you can’t help but feel connected. One of the vignettes that moved me the most was the one titled, “Dancing”. After a snide remark about her dancing style she stops dancing, an activity she loved. It’s just a pointed reminder of the consequences words can have.
This was a visually exciting book which could be easily read in one sitting but why rush. You want to drink in the words and then let your eyes wander over all the colorful lines, squiggles, faces, etc. There is just so much to see that you’ll have to come back to it over and over. I know I will have to add this book to my personal library.
And, that’s not all, at the end of the book Barry encourages the reader to try their hand at drawing demons and has some advice as to how to start out. So I did just that. I got a hold of some of my husband’s art supplies and used some paper scraps to try my hand at demon-making.
The word I chose for my demon-making journal entry is “German” because I’m “haunted” by the fact that I still wish I could speak this language. Obviously, I’m just having fun with my entry. Now, I open my journal to you to let you see my demon, please remember that I don’t draw at all:
Grinding the ink was fun but it was hard to draw with the brush. Ah, what am I saying, I just can’t draw! I cut out some words, used rubber stamps and wrote a bit about wanting to speak German a bit more fluently next time we go visit. Anyway, would I try this demon-making exercise again? Sure, it was fun.