Syndicated in many alternative papers, Barry has collected nine volumes of her deliberately childlike comics and has also published a first novel, The Good Times Are Killing Me (not seen). Like the Simpsons” creator, Matt Groening, Barry supports her crude line drawings with her smart text, which is always hand-lettered above the picture, and often overwhelms her ugly- beautiful illustrations. Here, she gives voice to Freddie, the troubled brother of Marlys and Maybonne, who were the focus of previous volumes. Though the individual stories—each six or so frames, with one two-frame panel per page—begin innocently enough, Barry’s poignant tales soon turn quite dark. Dismissed as “Freddie the Fag” by his older cousin Arnold, Freddie follows Arnold and his friend Jim-Jimmy-Jim in a demented plot with a violent end. Things turn even worse: Freddie hallucinates everyone as talking skulls, and his only friend at school first engages him in pubescent homosexuality, then dies from choking. Freddie retreats further into weirdness and is placed in special ed classes where his new friend, “Spaz-Eyes Gigi,” also disappoints him. “El Fagtastico,” as Freddie calls himself, grows stranger over time, and Barry narrates his sad history with visual sympathy and allows Freddie to speak for his own sorry self. A surprisingly moving, visually engaging collection.