Thursday, April 1, 2010

One! Hundred! Demons!

A casual reader who picks up a book titled One Hundred Demons might be surprised to find stories about hearing a meaningful song on the radio, head lice, bad boyfriends, and a first job, but those and more are inside this “autobifictionalographical” work. The eponymous demons come from a painting exercise Barry found in a library book, practiced by Hakuin Ekaku, a zen monk who lived in 16th century Japan. As she paints each demon, stories and memories came to hear and become the contents of this book. Some of the tales are sad, others funny, and almost all of them touch upon aspects of growing up, dealing with family, and finding one's place in the world.

Lynda Barry, the author/illustrator, is well known for publishing her weekly alternative comic Ernie Pook's Comeek for the better part of the past 20 years. Additionally, she is the eponymous "Funk Queen of the Galaxy" to whom Matt Groening dedicates every volume of his Life in Hell collections. Yes, that Matt Groening. Barry's most famous creation, Marlys, is a freckled faced young girl who appears to be a stand-in for Barry herself, and Barry certainly can remember and express the feelings of being young and concerned about everything around her.

The individual strips that make up One Hundred Demons were published originally in This collection won the 2003 Alex Award, which goes to ten adult books chosen by the Young Adult Library Services Association for their appeal to teens. Reviewers are very positive about the book as well. Andrew D. Arnold stated that it uses "acutely-observed humor to explore the pain of growing up." Derik Badman was so engrossed that he read the book in one sitting. More reviews can also be seen at Goodreads.

This collection was published by Sasquatch Books, and an extensive preview is available from Google Books.

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