Connect with us
'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal
Drawn and Quarterly

Comic Books

‘Come Over Come Over’ shows Lynda Barry’s enduring appeal

With a keen ear for authentic teen dialogue and an iconic alt-comics art style, ‘Come Over Come Over’ is both funny and heartbreaking.

Lynda Barry has been making comics professionally for over 40 years. More recently she’s won several high profile awards, including an Eisner in 2009 for her brilliant interrogation of the creative process, What It Is. She was also inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2016 and was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2019. Arguably, the MacArthur Foundations’ so called “Genius Grant”—given to creators who’ve shown “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction”—best epitomizes her body of work.

If Barry were emerging today, she’d likely be releasing her work in the form of webcomics. Back in the 1970s, she made photocopies of her strips and sold them out on the street. Either way, constrained by the size of 8.5”x11” paper and a nonstop publishing schedule, Barry perfected a taut, emotion rich 4-panel style that cuts to the bone.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!
'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal

Drawn and Quarterly

Come Over Come Over, reissued here in a deluxe hardcover edition by Drawn and Quarterly, collects nearly 50 of these classic weekly strips. Originally published in the Chicago Reader under the moniker Ernie Pook’s Comeek, each comic simultaneously tells a self-contained story while feeding into a larger, more complex narrative arc.

In the words of the collection’s 14-year-old protagonist Maybonne, “It’s mainly about how life can magically turn cruddy then turn beautiful and then back to cruddy again, then it just keeps on evolutionizing you.” Take away the titles in the first panel of each vignette and the collection reads exactly like a well-crafted graphic novel. It’s incredible to think Barry did it all on the fly, “posting” her strips in various free weekly newspapers throughout the country. It somehow felt transgressive and ubiquitous.

'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal

Drawn and Quarterly

Visually, Barry’s artistic style is pure alt-comics. Her quirky characters are drawn with bold curvilinear lines. Maybonne and her 8-year-old sister, Marlys, are instantly recognizable more for their eyeglasses, hairstyles and clothing than anything else. Maybonne is almost always in her classic flower dress, while her younger sister is rarely seen in anything other than stripes. Backgrounds are simple and unobtrusive while the characters are often surrounded by overt, distinctive hatching.

Barry’s panels may look text heavy—especially at first—but her writing is brilliant. She has an incredible ear for quirky teen dialogue and uses it to the fullest. The story is told in first person, largely from Maybonne’s perspective, in the form of diary entries and internal monologues. Here, from start to finish, the narrative tone is pitch perfect. Switching effortlessly from funny to sad, smart, sarcastic, ridiculous, distraught, and clever, Maybonne’s voice is authentic and highly approachable. You get to know her very quickly and you’re always on her side, even while she’s clearly making a mistake.

'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal

Drawn and Quarterly

Marlys, in this collection, also gets a few of her own first person strips. In many ways she’s a sidekick who provides comedic relief, but her voice is purely her own. She’s not a mere tagalong. She also gives us a great emotional counterpoint to the things Maybonne feels. Marlys isn’t centered in the narrative very often, but when she is, it’s easy to see how she went on to become one of Barry’s most popular and iconic characters.

Of course, like all Barry’s work, it’s not all fun and games. Occasionally, things get dark. In the midst of all the teen angst, histrionics, and sibling squabbles, Maybonne wrestles with two very tough questions: “Did I see it?” and “Is it my business?” While watching TV, Maybonne turns to see her friend Cheryl’s dad molesting his own daughter.

Barry evokes Cheryl’s trauma through Maybonne’s painfully matter-of-fact description of her best friend, “…eyes straight on the TV, not blinking, and her mouth frozen shut.” Later, as she ponders what to do, Maybonne thinks, “If it wasn’t her dad I’d tell her, ‘next time he does it, kick him between the legs. Even Dear Abby would give that advice…. But if it’s already her father, where is she supposed to run to?”

'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal

Drawn and Quarterly

It’s a truly horrific scene, but it’s no less a part of Maybonne’s life than “The Famous Bee” that disrupted math class or her crush on Brian Bono. Barry’s talents are many, not the least of which is her seemingly innate ability to tell stories unflinchingly with authenticity and empathy. It can sometimes be a difficult, heartrending road, but as Maybonne concludes, “P.S. I still think life is magical.”

'Come Over Come Over' shows Lynda Barry's enduring appeal
‘Come Over Come Over’ shows Lynda Barry’s enduring appeal
Come Over Come Over
With a keen ear for authentic teen dialogue and an iconic alt-comics art style, Lynda Barry’s 'Come Over Come Over' is both funny and heartbreaking.
Reader Rating2 Votes
9
Barry’s accessible style feels effortless and immersive.
Even with title cards every four pages the book reads like a graphic novel.
The protagonists are two of the most authentic, likable characters you’ll ever meet.
The price point may be a bit high for some readers given the amount of material.
The book deserves an introduction. Some additional context would be nice.
9.5
Great
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

'Immortal X-Men' #10 sets up 'Sins of Sinister' in a surprising way 'Immortal X-Men' #10 sets up 'Sins of Sinister' in a surprising way

‘Immortal X-Men’ #10 sets up ‘Sins of Sinister’ in a surprising way

Comic Books

DC Preview: Batman / Superman: World's Finest #11 DC Preview: Batman / Superman: World's Finest #11

DC Preview: Batman / Superman: World’s Finest #11

Comic Books

DC Preview: Batman: Fortress #8 DC Preview: Batman: Fortress #8

DC Preview: Batman: Fortress #8

Comic Books

Carnage and Spidey collide in 'Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis' May 2023 Carnage and Spidey collide in 'Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis' May 2023

Carnage and Spidey collide in ‘Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis’ May 2023

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup