The Greatest of Marlys
Lynda Barry had a bona fide hit with Cruddy, and her fans are now calling for her older comic strips, all out of print. This book answers the call as it delivers the life and times of Marlys Mullen, the most beloved character in Barry's nationally syndicated comic strip, "Ernie Pook's Comeek." This is a Lynda Barry double-tall: the long-awaited collection of the best strips from her syndicated comics. Way back in the mid-1980s, comic illustrator and writer Lynda Barry introduced the character of Marlys Mullen, her crazy groovy teenage sister Maybonne, her sensitive and strange little brother Freddie, a mother like no other, and an array of cousins and friends from the 'hood. This oversized book presents the long strange journey through puberty and life that Marlys and company have experienced. Marlys's universe and galaxy are funny, rude, disturbing, tearful . . . in short, very, very Lynda Barry.

The Greatest of Marlys Details

TitleThe Greatest of Marlys
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 26th, 2000
PublisherSasquatch Books
ISBN-139781570612602
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Fiction, Humor, Graphic Novels Comics

The Greatest of Marlys Review

  • Christian
    January 1, 1970
    Sure, Linda Barry draws cartoon characters, but these characters seem so real I'm often suspicious that Barry is stealing diaries and school essays from the 1970s and 80s. Reading their thoughts and adventures, I sometimes forget I'm reading fiction and feel like I'm spying on a motley group of kids who are fully wrapped up in the pain and joy of growing up.It's rare that a serial comic strip can, in a few pages, so successfully move me from laughing out loud to scrunching up my face Sure, Linda Barry draws cartoon characters, but these characters seem so real I'm often suspicious that Barry is stealing diaries and school essays from the 1970s and 80s. Reading their thoughts and adventures, I sometimes forget I'm reading fiction and feel like I'm spying on a motley group of kids who are fully wrapped up in the pain and joy of growing up.It's rare that a serial comic strip can, in a few pages, so successfully move me from laughing out loud to scrunching up my face in an effort to keep my eyes from watering in sympathy.Fantastic stuff. Highly recommended to everyone with a heart.Note: I feel Barry's work loses its way a bit after 1996 or so, when her style becomes coarser and the characters' personal lives are largely ignored. The trailer-park sequences are excellent, and partially make up for it.
    more
  • Book Riot Community
    January 1, 1970
    A legendary comic figure, Marlys is Barry’s stand-out star, an eight-year-old freckled, bossy, bucktoothed young girl in glasses that Barry debuted to great acclaim in 1986. This is a brilliant retrospective on Marlys over the last thirty years, and a fantastic trip down memory lane. If you love Roz Chast, be sure to check it out.Backlist bump: What It Is by Lynda BarryTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
    more
  • dirt
    January 1, 1970
    Do not read this when you are tired. Most comics are easily read when in a stupor, but not this one. Probably because the drawings are very busy. Reading it at the laundromat is difficult too, especially if that laundromat has like 3 big screen televisions blaring Judge Judy. My favorite strips were the ones about bugs.
    more
  • Malbadeen
    January 1, 1970
    This book kind of makes me feel bad because it reminds me how incredibly inane my sense of humor can be at times i.e. this morning when I read the following dialog between Marlys and a boy, as she's trying to get him to follow her hand signals for a song:Marlys: Ok now watch my magic hand while i sing so you can follow the notes.Boy: No man, just tell me the part that goes after "cracked it open, it was rotten"Marlys: First watch my magic hand.Boy: This book kind of makes me feel bad because it reminds me how incredibly inane my sense of humor can be at times i.e. this morning when I read the following dialog between Marlys and a boy, as she's trying to get him to follow her hand signals for a song:Marlys: Ok now watch my magic hand while i sing so you can follow the notes.Boy: No man, just tell me the part that goes after "cracked it open, it was rotten"Marlys: First watch my magic hand.Boy: Forget it, man. Watch my magic butt.(this is where I started laughing so loud, I woke my son up).Marlys: I'm tellin!
    more
  • May Regan
    January 1, 1970
    AAAH LYNDA BARRY YOU POETIC ANGEL I LOVE YOU!!!!The Greatest of Marlys is one of my favorite books EVER. I literally love the CRAP OUT OF THIS BOOK!! Thank you, Lynda Barry, for Marlys. I wish to live on the Planet Marlys and sleep in Arna's Dream Bedroom. I could live off of Marlys' mom's reviews of the Sears Catalog. But honestly, this book is amazing.I love itAnd I'm going to stop talking now!
    more
  • Mat Tait
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful collection of strips that captures childhood in a way that feels uncannily accurate - so much so that I found myself remembering things from my own childhood that I'd long forgotten.
  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    I'm pretty sure Lynda Barry can do no wrong. This collection of comics from the late '80s-early '00s features the inimitable Marlys and assorted family members. Some of comics are outright hilarious. Others are less funny and more thoughtful, gently poking fun at both the mundane and the absurd in equal measure. Some are gut-wrenchingly sad. Such is the skill of this comics master. This isn't the sort of book that one reads straight through; comics collections tend to get tedious when they're re I'm pretty sure Lynda Barry can do no wrong. This collection of comics from the late '80s-early '00s features the inimitable Marlys and assorted family members. Some of comics are outright hilarious. Others are less funny and more thoughtful, gently poking fun at both the mundane and the absurd in equal measure. Some are gut-wrenchingly sad. Such is the skill of this comics master. This isn't the sort of book that one reads straight through; comics collections tend to get tedious when they're read like a graphic novel. Rather, it's ideal to read over time (much the way the original comics were published. Marlys may seem impatient, but she'll wait, I promise.
    more
  • Becka
    January 1, 1970
    i still snort chocolate milk through my nose when i read lynda barry, even though i haven't drank chocolate milk in years.when i think of these strips i think of getting up at dawn in the summer and running barefoot over hot pavement. i love marlys's beach bingo & car trip bingo. i love her obsession with teenagers and being beautiful. i even love how crushed my heart feels when she goes to the birthday party of the stupid girl in her class that didn't invite her & wouldn't accept i still snort chocolate milk through my nose when i read lynda barry, even though i haven't drank chocolate milk in years.when i think of these strips i think of getting up at dawn in the summer and running barefoot over hot pavement. i love marlys's beach bingo & car trip bingo. i love her obsession with teenagers and being beautiful. i even love how crushed my heart feels when she goes to the birthday party of the stupid girl in her class that didn't invite her & wouldn't accept the present she brought. her stuff is totally major for me. plus she uses the word "dag."
    more
  • Parvoneh
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a while to get it, but I think I get it! Stories about family and friends and kids you don't want to be your friend until you do and being enthralled with the world and being lonely and and being disappointed and being weird and not wanting to admit you love people because sometimes they also annoy you. One of those writers who puts together such strong characters with such strong voices that you start talking like them a little bit. Lynda Barry has a beautiful heart. YES.
    more
  • Hilary
    January 1, 1970
    It's actually "The! Greatest! Of! Marlys!" and don't you forget it! Lynda Barry is one of the best writers about childhood and of childhood, and her comics are at once hilarious and chilling. If you haven't read her books, this is a fine introduction, but a lot of it is a compilation of previous books, so I recommend just picking up any of her comics and reading a whole book through -- some are more graphic novels than collections of strips.
    more
  • Mateen Mahboubi
    January 1, 1970
    Reminded me of being young and how excited I am for my children to grow up and figure out the world.
  • Octavia Cade
    January 1, 1970
    A really very funny collection taken from Barry's long-running cartoon Ernie Pook's Comeek, centred round the character of Marlys. All the kids here, Marlys included, are absolutely children - they're not grown-ups with childish faces, they're exactly as flighty and imaginative and ridiculous as children actually are. (Not that I know any children, frankly I make a point of it. But I remember being one, along with my sister, and Marlys and co. are absolutely familiar.) It's all extremely recognisable, A really very funny collection taken from Barry's long-running cartoon Ernie Pook's Comeek, centred round the character of Marlys. All the kids here, Marlys included, are absolutely children - they're not grown-ups with childish faces, they're exactly as flighty and imaginative and ridiculous as children actually are. (Not that I know any children, frankly I make a point of it. But I remember being one, along with my sister, and Marlys and co. are absolutely familiar.) It's all extremely recognisable, whether the kids are trying to make friends with a neighbour's dog, doing book reports for school, or sneaking off to go swimming with the good towels. The more you read through, the more you realise just how accomplished it all is.
    more
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    So good! I had the wonderful luck of hearing her speak at a conference last week and it was one of the most inspiring and thought provoking talks I’ve heard. She, in her glorious braids and Chewbacca t-shirt, discussing wisdom teeth and kids and misfits and grandmas and drawing and so much more. I’d read a little of her before the talk, now I’m going hog wild and reading it all. Buying what the library doesn’t have or can’t get in interlibrary loan.I like that her cartoons have the s So good! I had the wonderful luck of hearing her speak at a conference last week and it was one of the most inspiring and thought provoking talks I’ve heard. She, in her glorious braids and Chewbacca t-shirt, discussing wisdom teeth and kids and misfits and grandmas and drawing and so much more. I’d read a little of her before the talk, now I’m going hog wild and reading it all. Buying what the library doesn’t have or can’t get in interlibrary loan.I like that her cartoons have the spectrum of experiences and emotions, b/c even for kids that is what real life is.It was sad to see that most of the adults in the kids’ lives constantly shouted at them and didn’t try to empathize. Have we moved a little beyond that in today’s world in dealing with kids? I hope so, but idk.
    more
  • Kirsten
    January 1, 1970
    I was “riding a bummer” as Marlys would say, and needed some Marlys magic. She delivered. Nothing else I’ve ever read takes me back to childhood the way this does. Things flow out from the recesses of my memory. I’d forgotten about some of the heavier, poignant strips in the mix. But so much joy and beauty, too. And hilarity and wackiness. True to life. Since this is a retrospective compilation, it was also interesting to see how Marlys developed - she started out as kind of a jerk and then tran I was “riding a bummer” as Marlys would say, and needed some Marlys magic. She delivered. Nothing else I’ve ever read takes me back to childhood the way this does. Things flow out from the recesses of my memory. I’d forgotten about some of the heavier, poignant strips in the mix. But so much joy and beauty, too. And hilarity and wackiness. True to life. Since this is a retrospective compilation, it was also interesting to see how Marlys developed - she started out as kind of a jerk and then transformed into the Marlys we know and love.
    more
  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    These cartoons consist of little vignettes. Some of them are pleasant or charming or insightful. They seem to be both about and targeted at young girls. As such I wasn't all that personally captivated by them. And I can't say that I found the drawing style particularly pleasant to look at. I'll allow three stars for effort.
    more
  • Cathryn
    January 1, 1970
    Almost every page had me and my 13-yr-old laughing out loud. The middle section with story of Arnold and the (view spoiler)[ arsonist friend (hide spoiler)] was a bit "heavy" but other than that I LOVED this book. Really funny!
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This book really snuck up on me. So many of these stories reminded me of my own thoughts and experiences being a kid. The dog beat poetry section had me laughing so hard I was in tears. Lynda Barry is a genius.
  • Nicole O'Donnell
    January 1, 1970
    So many years ago I read Lynda Barry’s comics in the paper. I didn’t get them. The me of then couldn’t see them beyond the pieces. Reading them collected so many years later as a changed me changed how I see them. I’m in love with Marylis now and with Barry’s narrative genius.
    more
  • Liz Yerby
    January 1, 1970
    LB is a genius and this comics really shine.
  • Maureen Stanton
    January 1, 1970
    I love Lynda Barry's work. Period.
  • Terrence
    January 1, 1970
    As always, a very humorous collection of comic-strips by Lynda Barry. She's one of my favorites!
  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Two words: Candy Cigarettes. Two more words: Trailer park. The rest is up to you.
  • Bookthreat
    January 1, 1970
    Read our review at https://bookthreat.com/2017/05/23/chi...
  • Dan Feeley
    January 1, 1970
    What will Marlys get up to next? I think she is one of the greatest characters in comics. Truly! She makes me laugh and makes me cry.
  • Lizzie
    January 1, 1970
    As this book is too big for my purse, and a collection instead of a novel, I experimented and made it a bedtime book. I kept it in my nightstand and read a few strips every night. RECOMMENDED. I can't go to sleep if I'm feeling bummed out, and turns out Lynda Barry is THE ANSWER.The great majority of this book made me incredibly happy. SO HAPPY. The strips are lush with memory and detail, in something like the 1970's though it isn't said outright. They establish a group of five kids As this book is too big for my purse, and a collection instead of a novel, I experimented and made it a bedtime book. I kept it in my nightstand and read a few strips every night. RECOMMENDED. I can't go to sleep if I'm feeling bummed out, and turns out Lynda Barry is THE ANSWER.The great majority of this book made me incredibly happy. SO HAPPY. The strips are lush with memory and detail, in something like the 1970's though it isn't said outright. They establish a group of five kids who are siblings and cousins, mostly under ten though one is a teenager, and every strip burrows deep in a simple, goofy event that reveals their funny, genuine relationships and imaginations, and the odd, reverent solemnity that kids invest things with. And/or the strip presents all of the dogs living in their neighborhood. Whatever.All of the kids narrate in these incredible, blazingly authentic voices. I don't know how she does it. I personally have a deep and odd love for what let's call the creative grammar of us people, as talkers, and so this made me so happy. I wanted Arna and Maryls and everyone to say things forever. I wanted to be able to say things like them. Lynda Barry is five zillion times more gifted at writing truthful voice and language than most any playwright I know of, which is just my fancy way of saying, the way these kids talk is pillow-thwackingly hilarious and adorable. I wanted to scream, it was so good. So simple, it seems like anyone could write it. I loved it. It's the kind of talent I want to buy illegally on eBay and inject in my body.I also came to really like Lynda Barry's drawing style, though I'm no expert on comic art. All I figure is that you can sort of see her living a creative philosophy, often publishing messy drawings with an arm drawn in two places. You get the idea, you get the feeling, so the job's done enough. Sometimes in context they're drawn down faithfully to the skills of an 8-year-old, but that's not really it. Also there's the fact that her characters are all ugly-cute — pocky and freckly and homely, and aren't we all. Whiny children look like oompa-loompas and yelling teachers look as mean as bridge trolls. (But Marlys has got those pigtails so what could go wrong.)The only thing that did go wrong in this book was the late 90's. Meaning, there's about ten years of strips woven together here, and breezing through the lot of them points out a really huge attitude difference in the writing for a while. 1998 stuff is so different from 1988 stuff, which is totally normal, except for me the different was bad. There was a slice of them 4/5th of the way through where I thought the spell was broken. They kinda stopped making sense and telling stories. For a while, the strips stop being hilarious, bittersweet vignettes and veer first toward the declarative (which is still funny, but not narrative), and then the outright cynical. The declarative strips get weaker, and then the ensuing trailer park strips have this unexpected, critical tone. They get a lot more bleak, but not in a way that seems to lead you somewhere, in a way that is kind of putting people down. I don't know. I wasn't happy I was reading them. And then, it got better. The last 20 pages of strips bring back cousin Arna (I love Arna, I love Arna) and then everything is really, really good again.4.5 stars. Rounding down for the weird notes, and that I think there's a lot more to get in a lot more books. I'm really, really glad to see there are so many other collections of these characters (and many of them with more focused through-stories), because I'm gonna be wanting to look at a bunch of those. A bunch. Of those.
    more
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Marlys is so wonderful! I can't quite articulate why these strips are so good, but Linda Barry taps into childhood in a way that caused past feelings and memories to flood over me.
  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a fan of Barry's since reading her strips in free papers in the 1980s -- though back then I found her more disturbing. Marlys is one of her most upbeat and innocent characters -- for the other end of her spectrum you could read her horror novella, Cruddy. There is real pain in some of these strips as well as a lot of crazy humor. She has an uncanny memory for childhood, particularly 60s and 70s childhood in poverty, with all the weird and sometimes scary relatives, messing around unsup I've been a fan of Barry's since reading her strips in free papers in the 1980s -- though back then I found her more disturbing. Marlys is one of her most upbeat and innocent characters -- for the other end of her spectrum you could read her horror novella, Cruddy. There is real pain in some of these strips as well as a lot of crazy humor. She has an uncanny memory for childhood, particularly 60s and 70s childhood in poverty, with all the weird and sometimes scary relatives, messing around unsupervised in the streets, teachers good and bad, and yearning for the toys and glamor on TV. The voices of the kids, their humor and everything they do are true to unselfconscious life, sticky, hilarious, humiliating, miserable and passionate. One of the earliest strips is about a time the kids were taken to a fair and all ended up barfing in the car afterwards. Others include watching a fascinating boy play basketball at dusk under a streetlight, making Christmas presents out of stuff from the wastebasket, a girl getting dumped off at her cousin's house because her mom has a new boyfriend, trailer park life, and a beatnik poet poodle.
    more
  • Sarospice
    January 1, 1970
    Good memories from high school when the Chicago Reader meant something and the lawn of Lane Tech would be littered with paper's.... Read alot of Linda Barry, and always loved Marlys.
  • K.W. Colyard
    January 1, 1970
    I often wonder why adults forget what it's like to be children, and how they can feel comfortable inflicting on younger generations the same kind of abuses they suffered, like being called "stupid" by an adult, or being told that what you have to say is not --- and will never be --- important. If you think you might have let your memories of what it's like to be a pre-teen kid slip away, pick up The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry.Centered on three siblings and their eponymous cousin, The Greatest of Marlys recounts thBarry.Centered I often wonder why adults forget what it's like to be children, and how they can feel comfortable inflicting on younger generations the same kind of abuses they suffered, like being called "stupid" by an adult, or being told that what you have to say is not --- and will never be --- important. If you think you might have let your memories of what it's like to be a pre-teen kid slip away, pick up The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry.Centered on three siblings and their eponymous cousin, The Greatest of Marlys recounts the trials and tribulations of this small cluster of tweens and their families. Barry weaves deftly between outright comedy and the pangs of heartbreak, much the same as life itself does.No part of The Greatest of Marlys feels fictional. Reading Barry's collection of --- mostly 4-panel --- comics is what I imagine recovering a memory must be like. Here is your brother's mold-growing project, there is your teenage sister's diary, over in the corner is the cousin with family problems that no one really seems to talk about.Speaking of cousins, let's talk about Marlys. Barry's Marlys is either that annoying kid you knew in 5th grade, or she's you. There is no in-between, although she could, I suppose, be both. For me, she is me. She loves the spotlight, dreams of sharing her knowledge and insight, and sometime makes off-the-wall assumptions, but her pragmatism doesn't let many of her failures get her down.The Greatest of Marlys is a darker, grittier Peanuts, in which the children don't cleanly observe the morals they uncover. The result isn't pastoral, but the gritty realism of blue-collar childhood, masterfully delivered by the author. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
    more
  • Molly
    January 1, 1970
    I have never before identified so much with a character. Marlys is a bit of a nerd, a bit of a weirdo, and at times she's that girl that you might call a bit of a loser-- but with such a big heart. I think one of the strips that struck me the hardest was one where she was the only girl in class not invited to the popular girl's party; when Arna got sick, she took her invitation. But the next panel shows her crying on the bed with Arna saying that the girl wouldn't even take her gift, and Arna te I have never before identified so much with a character. Marlys is a bit of a nerd, a bit of a weirdo, and at times she's that girl that you might call a bit of a loser-- but with such a big heart. I think one of the strips that struck me the hardest was one where she was the only girl in class not invited to the popular girl's party; when Arna got sick, she took her invitation. But the next panel shows her crying on the bed with Arna saying that the girl wouldn't even take her gift, and Arna telling her that she isn't even that cool. Ugh- I teared up. Big ball of memories attached to that strip, I tell you. Even though these seem like little innocent captures of childhood memories, most of them are so much deeper. I've never read someone who captures childhood so well- sometimes it's fun, and you can picture the pain of walking on hot asphalt and the relief of the sprinklers; but you also remember the pain of childhood taunts, the kid who you make fun of so that it's not you being made fun of; the indifference of adults. It's all there. So good!
    more
Write a review