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The Greatest of Marlys

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,428 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
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 strip ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 26th 2000 by Sasquatch Books (first published January 7th 2000)
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Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: comics
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 effor
Book Riot Community
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 Barry

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Malbadeen by: sarah and steve
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 wh
Mat Tait
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 pr
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Mateen Mahboubi
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reminded me of being young and how excited I am for my children to grow up and figure out the world.
Octavia Cade
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, humour
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 recogni ...more
May Regan
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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 it

And I'm going to stop talking now!
Nicole O'Donnell
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.
Emily Besich
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Maureen Stanton
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Lynda Barry's work. Period.
Dan Feeley
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lizzie by: Nerd Christmas from Meg.
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 sibl
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
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.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Kristian Wilson
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 Grea

Nov 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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 ...more
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Where has Lynda Barry been all my life? I had pretty much decided she was awesome after hearing her speak at Printer's Row, but I don't think I realized the full extent of how wonderful she was until I really delved into this collection (only recently, much to my shame, even though I got it as a Christmas present...I always have about a million library books in front of me I need to finish first). The way Barry is able to so flawlessly tap into and capture the voices and memories of childhood is ...more
Megan Compton
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
It was difficult for me to get into a graphic novel as much as a regular novel. I think I am just not used to reading material like this. However, I did enjoy this book. Lynda Barry does an excellent job telling this story from a child's point of view.

Eight-year-old Marlys will never be quiet. And not just in the normal way that 8-year-olds. Marlys lives in a run-down home with a father who is missing and a mother who is neglectful, but from that unpromising upbringing, she creates games, exper
Nov 04, 2008 rated it liked it
well, i can rest assured that this comic anthology is very heavy on the marlys. this is a good thing because marlys is pretty cool. she's a spunky child character--maybe around eight years old, maybe nine? she gets into mischief & has a crabby teenage sister who she often wants to emulate, & she kind of worships her troubled brother freddie, & is forced to move around a lot due to various types of familial instability. she has very high self-confidence & often praises her own fre ...more
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent! It did take me some time to digest this book, as each page is a piece, so I did end up paying an overdue fee to the library. Completely worth it. Barry really grasps the internal world and logic of a child's mind, which is really an ever present part of our adult psyches. That feeling of curiosity about the minute elements of the world (like insects and animals and strange neighbors) and the bigger social questions (fear and loneliness and change). Marlys and Arna are her be-speckle ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was looking for my copy of this book last night, and sadly enough couldn't find it - this is one of the few books that I feel a NEED to have my own copy.

At any rate, Barry is one of those authors who deserves to be more widely read and known given her idiosyncratic gift for creating memorable and realistic characters and combining joy and tragedy - and this is a good representative example of her work - even though it contains some dark aspects, it's not nearly as grim as "Cruddy" or "The Fred
Aug 22, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think Marlys relies heavily on the shared cultural traits of childhood and family. I grew up a deeply lonely only child in the midst of violence, addiction, filth, chaos, and instability. I lack the fundamental life experience to understand this. I'm DNFing it. It's simply too alien for me to enjoy. I cannot relate to this at all.

Unless you grew up like me, you might try it. It might make sense to you because I strongly get the vibe that it reflects exactly how American children are in normal
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It seems like Lynda Barry has managed to hold on to something (I guess you could call it a sense of wonder, but that doesn't really do it justice)the rest of us lost when we grew up. The kids in this book are wacky & hilarious, but most importantly, they're you when you were little. If you don't get choked up at least once while you read this, you must've never been a little kid.
Ps: If you're bored at the beginning of the book, skip to 2/3 through & look for Fred Milton: Beat Poodle! No
Jun 03, 2008 added it
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.
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Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author, perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek.
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“Then how can you ever know about the beautiful goodness of Mud? How bad it wants to be things. How bad it wants to get on your legs and arms and take your footprints and handprints and how bad it wants you to make it alive! Mud is always ready to play with you. Seriously you should try it!” 5 likes
“You may be a lady but your are still the man!” 4 likes
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