What It Is book cover

What It Is by Lynda Barry

What It Is is a celebration of the ordinary and the extraordinary, and it is a reminder that creativity is a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. It is a book that will inspire and challenge readers of all ages, and it is sure to become a classic in the field of creative writing.


What It Is is a graphic novel that is part memoir, part collage, and part workbook. It is a guide to creative self-ignition, offering readers a playful and powerful method to open up their own creativity. The book is full of full-color drawings, comics, and collages, as well as autobiographical sections and gentle, creative guidance. Barry explores the depths of the inner and outer realms of creation and imagination, where play can be serious, monsters have a purpose, and not knowing is an answer unto itself. She asks questions like “How do objects summon memories?” and “What do real images feel like?” and her insights and sincerity will tackle the most persistent of inhibitions, calling back every kid who quit drawing to feel alive again at the experiential level.

Here are some additional key points about the book:

  • It was published in 2008 by Drawn & Quarterly.
  • It won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.
  • Critics have praised it for its creativity, insight, and humor.
  • It has been used in classrooms and workshops to teach creative writing and drawing.