Every page is wonderfully crammed. There's even a revise-as-you-go quality, since some of the hand-written text includes cross-outs and insertions. These are details we would normally register as mistakes, but here they are integral elements not only of the artwork, but of Barry's larger vision ... as immersive a document as possible. If you can't take a class with Barry, Making Comics is the next best thing ... Readers aren't getting graded. What they are getting is an immersion into Barry's philosophy of art and -- this is going to sound a bit grandiose but I'll say it anyway -- life. Barry teaches us how to be better people by teaching us how to see and think and draw like children again ... Making Comics is a love letter to every child who ever picked up a crayon and started making marks with unselfconscious intensity ... I've read a lot of writing and drawing textbooks, and Barry's is the only that has made me choke up with emotion ... No matter your goal, you'll benefit from reading this work.
... the closest cousin to Making Comics is not a book about drawing comics at all but the 1979 classic by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Both books demand participation. Both have a messianic spirit. Both demand you silence certain parts of your judgmental self. But Edwards’s book, which teaches you how to draw from life, relies on the intelligence of the eye; Barry’s, which teaches you how to draw from your unconscious, relies on the intelligence of the hand ... This is all fantastic and fantastically encouraging, but about halfway through Making Comics I started yawning uncontrollably. I wasn’t tired or bored. I simply could not stop yawning ... I discovered a new anxiety: I’m not Lynda Barry. She has a frenzied energy that is impossible to match ... She never gets tired of filling space with lines and colors and words. It’s infectious ... I love the spirit of this book and its raucous energy; it almost makes me feel as if I could draw like Barry ... I’m not sure whether Making Comics will make you, or me, a better cartoonist, or a cartoonist at all. But that’s not the point. The point is just to make you a more you-cartoonist.
As the title suggests, Barry’s book is an instruction manual, but while Making Comics aims to teach you how to, well, make comics, it may surprise even the reader who has no intention of doing that (me). Barry is so thoughtful—philosophical, even—about art and its purpose that it’s hard not to be moved ... I do not draw (I want to start now!) but I found in this book a lot of smart advice that’s broadly applicable ... what’s most delightful about Making Comics is its emphasis on action, on exercise, on practice—on actual making ... Barry works within the academy and won a MacArthur this year; she’s as establishment a figure as it’s possible to be. She’s clearly brilliant but uninterested in showing that off. Just as critics might misunderstand her style as naïve, they might misunderstand her pedagogy as self-help.
[Barry's] instructions in Making Comics seem less from Professor Barry and more from Lynda, the friend who secretly created Marlys and Fred Milton the Poodle and sometimes has cruddy days too (but here's a pen and notebook paper—just draw yourself in a Halloween costume and let's get through this together). It feels like taking a class from Marlys while stuck in the living room at your cousin's house, and it's a delightful, shed-your-inhibitions-about-your-talent kind of instruction.
You can read books on making comics from other writers all the way to the end and still not know how to begin, but that’s the magical place where Lynda Barry shines ... One of her greatest skills is tricking people into getting out of their heads and out of their preconceived notions of what’s in front of them, of the lines, of the page, of what a human looks like.
The activities, drawn from Barry’s own magical classroom, are fun, flexible, and easy to follow, at once challenging and comfortingly familiar, often set to music, sometimes featuring self-styled superheroes. The guide has the textured collage aesthetic of the author’s recent works, and in the margins of the exercises, her nearly mystical voice reminds that an act of creation is about something bigger than perfecting a cute comic in neat boxes ... On its face, the style seems almost goofy, but the reality that art drives and sustains us, if we let it, is present on every page ... An engaging combination of how-to and why-you-must, perfect for Barry superfans, budding cartoonists, and anyone with a story itching to be told.
The hand-written pages, doodled margins, and off-the-wall characters (I’m looking at you, Professor Hot Dog) might make this seem silly, but there’s a serious theoretical underpinning here, and Barry’s lighthearted and genuinely fun approach is directly in service of it: banishing your inner critic, developing a disciplined (but playful) practice, and dismantling beliefs about what constitutes a 'good' comic is key to finding something organic, original, and true.
... an instructional book that doubles as a work of art ... these lessons from Barry, like her art, capture her own brand of magic: a synthesis of theory, practice, memory, imagination, and 'a certain sort of unlearning.'