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Lynda Barry: ‘Comeek' creator talks about the ocean in the back of your mind, and filthy, filthy wind energy

The work I'm doing the most of to save the environment is getting the word out about the serious downsides of industrial scale wind turbines. If the goal of using renewable energy resources is to reduce CO2 emissions, industrial-scale wind turbines don't do this. ...It's the only renewable resource that keeps us completely dependent on power companies, fossil fuels (usually coal), and the grid.

Lynda Barry, author of the beloved "Ernie Pook's Comeek" and a new book, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly), has been a voice for pained, weird little girls for 30 years. This Tuesday, she takes time away from her farm in Wisconsin, where she's been battling industrial wind-power developers, to lecture at the Hammer alongside Simpsons and "Life Is Hell" creator Matt Groening, who first published her work in the college paper.

L.A. CityBeat: Why write a book about writing books, or a book meant to inspire people to write? What gives you the energy and desire to draw stories out of other people?

Lynda Barry: It all goes back to my teacher Marilyn Frasca, who I studied with at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in the late 1970s. She asked a question, "What is an image?" I think it's the thing that is contained by anything adults call the arts and kids call playing. And I would even call it a living thing. An image isn't alive in the way you and I are alive, but it's certainly not dead either. It's something in-between that exists in this odd place I call the image world. It's where Scrooge and Batman are, and Emily Dickinson's poems, and also the thing that a toy contains for the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Lynda Barry, author of the beloved "Ernie Pook's Comeek" and a new book, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly), has been a voice for pained, weird little girls for 30 years. This Tuesday, she takes time away from her farm in Wisconsin, where she's been battling industrial wind-power developers, to lecture at the Hammer alongside Simpsons and "Life Is Hell" creator Matt Groening, who first published her work in the college paper.

L.A. CityBeat: Why write a book about writing books, or a book meant to inspire people to write? What gives you the energy and desire to draw stories out of other people?

Lynda Barry: It all goes back to my teacher Marilyn Frasca, who I studied with at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in the late 1970s. She asked a question, "What is an image?" I think it's the thing that is contained by anything adults call the arts and kids call playing. And I would even call it a living thing. An image isn't alive in the way you and I are alive, but it's certainly not dead either. It's something in-between that exists in this odd place I call the image world. It's where Scrooge and Batman are, and Emily Dickinson's poems, and also the thing that a toy contains for the kid who is attached to it. I don't think human beings can exist without this image world, I think it has an absolute biological function, and I think that function is related to, among other things, mental health. So though What It Is uses writing to get us to that image world, I think it applies to all of imaginative activity.

I didn't want to write a book full of writing about writing. I wanted to make a book that would make people feel an itch to make something. To write, or glue paper onto paper, or to just cut things out of magazines - any of these things will get you into the image world in the way a smell will instantly transport you back to your auntie's kitchen. I think of this kind of physical activity as being a small boat we can row into the ocean of the back of our minds. It's different than thinking. It requires moving around an object with a particular state of mind - and a pen and paper qualify.

The stories people come up with in my workshops just floor me. They are so vibrant and alive that they make me feel vibrant and alive. I always feel fantastic after teaching a workshop. I always feel renewed and excited about going on in the world. That's what I mean by a biological function. I feel better about being alive in a world full of horrible troubles.

Can you tell us more about the work you do to save the environment, one sustainable energy source at a time?

The work I'm doing the most of to save the environment is getting the word out about the serious downsides of industrial scale wind turbines. If the goal of using renewable energy resources is to reduce CO2 emissions, industrial-scale wind turbines don't do this. Because they need fossil-fuel burning power plants to function, and because those power plants are never powered up or down in response to the wind being there or not, the same amount of CO2 is going into the air. This conclusion was reached by the National Academy of Sciences and also a Norwegian study on Danish wind power. You will get more electricity to sell from wind turbines, but no real reduction in current CO2 levels. It's the only renewable resource that keeps us completely dependent on power companies, fossil fuels (usually coal), and the grid. It's the only one that doesn't cause a loss of customers for the power companies. All the other renewable energy choices cause customer loss. Also, industrial wind is used as the justification for more and bigger transmission lines and use of eminent domain. Bigger and more transmission lines allow greater use of fossil-fueled power plants. So industrial- scale wind energy is just another way to say "MORE! MORE! MORE!" Most people don't realize that unless the wind is blowing at a certain speed - at least 10 miles an hour - the turbines can use more energy than they produce. Most people don't understand how much electricity it takes to run a machine that is 40 to 50 stories tall. Most people never even ask how the power is getting to and from the turbine. They don't know about the thousands of miles of cables.

Apart from all this, consider the impact on flying creatures. Turbines are placed in migration corridors because that's where the wind is. It's maddening to me that wind developers are getting away with this, siting them in wildlife refuges, national parks, and other protected areas.

By the way, on-site wind turbines of the smaller scale are great. Small, on-site power generation is the best alternative, and it's the one the power companies are going to fight the hardest against.

My favorite renewable resource option is manure digesters - for both animal and human manure. It's the only renewable energy option that actually cleans up other environmental problems as it creates electricity. It's also the least sexy of the choices and one no one wants to talk about.

How do you feel about the trend in comics to do personal narratives, basically resulting in illustrated therapy, and what this says about the position of the "hero" in contemporary culture?

Well, therapy has always been about telling stories, hasn't it? I think the use of stories to undo and untangle knots inside of people has always been around. I'm not sure we could exist without it. People may think that comics that contain personal narratives are something like therapy, but I think it's the other way around. Therapy is something like comics that contain personal narratives. Usually the "hero" is the one who somehow restores life to a dead zone, even if he has to die doing it. For me that dead zone is a feeling that life is not worth living. When a story can turn that feeling around, it becomes a lot more than entertainment or amusement. It's a life-saver.

If you weren't allowed to make comics anymore, what would you do?
I'd still make comics.


Source: http://www.lacitybeat.com/c...

NOV 15 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/17904-lynda-barry-comeek-creator-talks-about-the-ocean-in-the-back-of-your-mind-and-filthy-filthy-wind-energy
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