The prestigious MacArthur Foundation has recognized one of the stand out voices in the comics community with a 2019 Genius Grant. Lynda Barry is the creator behind One! Hundred! Demons!, What It Is, The Good Times Are Killing Me, and much more. Later in 2019, Barry’s much anticipated Making Comics will be published by Drawn & Quarterly, offering anyone the chance to experience Barry’s unique combination of education and creation, as readers can follow along to make their own sequential art based on her years as an educator.
According to NPR the $625,000 prize is awarded in quarterly installments over five years to those whose contributions to society are not is high paying fields.
The idea is simple: Unlike, say, a professional athlete or tech entrepreneur, excellence in a field such as philosophy or geophysics doesn’t exactly pay big bucks. But achievements in any field often require money anyway, whether that may be for materials or simply the free time and ease of mind that come with financial stability. MacArthur judges hope that more than half a million dollars will help with that.
The importance of grants like the MacArthur, that recognize everything from restorative justice to cartoonists, is immeasurable. Giving top minds of each generation the financial stability to make progress in field’s they are passionate about, and spread their ideas and findings with people outside of their immediate community, opens up countless opportunities to change the world.
It the crossroads between instruction and example, between the student and the reader, where Barry really shines. Her excitement for the art of comics, and for sharing the benefits of the craft come through in the short video the MacArthur Genius committee made.Barry says in the video, “The MacArthur for me, its the biggest things that’s ever happened to me in terms of being able to facilitate chasing this idea down of what images are why they exist, and what happens when people finally have access to having them be part of their life again.”
Look for Making Comics this November, and if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the city’s where Barry is making a stop, you can meet her (and CBLDF supporter Chris Ware) to congratulate her in person.