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Barr, Donna (1952-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Barr, Donna (1952-)

Historical Note:

Donna Barr, an accomplished artist and prolific writer, was born in Everett, Washington in 1952, and began drawing as a child in 1954.  She served in the United States Army from 1970-73, and received a bachelors' degree in German from Ohio State University in 1978.

Barr is best known for her two comic book series Stinz (1984) and The Desert Peach (1986). Stinz tells the story of a society of centaur-like people living in a setting reminiscent of pre-industrial Germany, while The Desert Peach is about Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional and homosexual younger brother of Erwin “The Desert Fox Rommel,” and is set in North Africa during World War II.  Subsequent publications included Hader and the Colonel (1987), Bosom Enemies (1987), and Barr Girls (1990). Her work has been translated into German, Japanese, Italian, and Croatian.  Her most ambitious work is a series of handmade ornate, stitchery-covered bound sketchbooks, called the Black Manuscripts.  In 1997, Barr started her own publishing company.

Barr has been a respected presence in drawn-book publishing throughout her career.  Her drawn books, which cross the boundaries between art and writing, redefine traditional novels, artist's books, graphic novels, and book design and illustration. Her background in 20th-century German culture and language, literature, world mythologies, history, and religion informs her artwork, which is influenced by Japanese woodcuts, European fine arts, Victorian novels, Chinese poets, and Russian mystics.  She works in pencil, ink, watercolor, and silkscreen.

Barr has been recognized throughout her career with numerous awards and honors, including The Xeric Grant 2000; The Bruce Brown Foundation Grant 2004; San Diego Comicon International's  Inkpot,  1996; Seattle's Cartoonists Northwest's  Toonies,  1998; London Comic Creator's Guild's  Best Ongoing Humor Series, 1992; the Washington Press Association's  Communicator of Excellence for Fiction,  1997 and 1998.

Aside from her professional and personal writing, she has been involved in the Northwest community as a member of the Graphic Artists Guild, the National Writers Union, UAW/AFL/CIO, and a consultant for the Media curriculum in the Arts Department at Olympic College, in Bremerton, Washington.  She lectures on her work at conventions and symposiums all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, and is well known to the growing drawn-book audience in Eastern Europe.  She lives in Clallam Bay, Washington with her husband.

Note Author: Jossie Chavez

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