What does it mean to be brave? I once heard this story about my favorite comic artist Lynda Barry. A friend of mine went to a speech she was giving. Lynda Barry got behind the podium and started to talk but got super nervous so she ducked down and hid. Eventually she stood back up and said, “I’m so nervous. If I can do this, you can also do whatever it is you’re afraid of.”
Lynda Barry writes comics about trauma and beauty, about poverty and sibling rivalry/friendship, about queerness and bullying and cracks in the system that help us survive. She believes art, doodling, creating, is a biological imperative.
I first started drawing when I was 23. I was inspired by a Lynda Barry comic I’d seen. Her comic was 90% words, and at the bottom of each was a little dog that was just two ovals for the body and head with little ovals for legs. I thought if she can do that, I can too. I would draw pictures and then show them to my sister and say “can you tell what this is?” and she’d say “hmm… a couch maybe?”
Drawing let me say things that I was too afraid to say otherwise.
In the media, in academia, in our families, in our daily lives, there are certain stories that are told and certain stories that are not told. There are rules to speaking, rules to polite conversation, to the amount of disclosure that is allowed, to “cool” versus “uncool” topics.
In order to change the world we need to change the stories we tell. We need to open up the imagination, allowing in the thoughts and ideas that we push out because they’re undeveloped or confusing or scary. What are the questions that are not being asked in public debate? What are the subjects we shy away from with our friends because we are afraid of judgment?
The author, poet and activist Audre Lorde said it best: “What are the words you do not have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own until you will sicken and die of them still in silence?”
More Audre Lorde wisdom here.
My work here.
Women’s Center Graduate Assistant