I had so much fun last weekend teaching "The Illustrated Story of My Life" to PSU students. We learned about visual journalists Frida Kahlo, Maude Tomlinson Berkeley, and Lynda Barry.
"Everyone" knows about Kahlo, but not all know that her personal diary has been published. She poured out her passions, despair, and secrets into this book that she lavishly illustrated with paintings, doodles, and symbols. It feels a bit strange to read a journal Kahlo wrote only for herself. The journal is inspiring to those who worry that their own journals aren't perfect. Kahlo was perfectly fine with crossing out words, putting down stream-of-consciousness rants, and making a general mess of her pages when she felt like it.
Maud Berkeley is not well known. I found out about this Victorian woman when I was googling for women's journals several years ago. Her journal was published in an adapted form by Flora Fraser. Maud was a high-spirited young woman living with two aged parents on the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. Maud's writing shows a delightful sense of the absurd and a wish to document her daily life. She took art lessons to improve her diary art. Her illustrations are full of movement and humor.
a group of twenty somethings who gathered for music
and high jinks
"The Enemy." Mrs. H. apparently felt the young people should be in church,
rather than enjoying themselves on the beach.
Lynda Barry is known to many as a talented and hilarious cartoonist. She has recently published a book in visual journal form all about creativity--what holds us back and how we can reclaim our right to write and make art. The book is called, What It Is. I can't recommend it too highly--it is wonderful. Some of the book takes a form of written and visual remembering of Barry's childhood. She vividly evokes the difficulties she faced and also shows the power of a child's creativity when used to survive.