Cartoonist Lynda Barry possesses the rare ability to recall and re-create the minutiae of childhood, from the sensations of falling out with a close friend to the textures and smells of a discarded toy. For 20-odd years, Barry has channeled these observations through her fictional sister characters Marlys and Maybonne, in a weekly comic strip that's gone through periods of vivid, extended poetic melancholy and periods of frenetic, almost unreadable digression. The new collection One Hundred Demons marks Barry's first overt foray into autobiography, though she dubs her efforts "autobifictionalography," and the book digs up the bones of Marlys and Maybonne's childhood angst. Inspired by an exercise in which the artist is encouraged to paint her "demons," Barry writes and draws 17 stories taken from her own experiences as the funny-looking, lower-middle-class daughter of an abusive Filipino mother and an absentee father. She grapples with the horrors of her first job (selling jewelry for a bickering, irresponsible hippie couple), reveals the social dynamics of a neighborhood kickball game (with everybody picking on everybody else), contemplates the roots of her self-consciousness (including her inability to dance or act "girly"), and pulls multiple vignettes from her mixed-up teenage years (as she experimented with sex and drugs in an attempt to give her life definition). The cartooning is minimal but rarely cutesy, and the dialogue pinpoints the inarticulate but meaningful grunts of kids and the exhausted dismissiveness of their guardians. Barry risks mawkishness by openly examining her youthful pain and her methods of coping, but the disarming, diary-like writing style and childlike art give the heavy subject matter a touch of humor and relief. One Hundred Demons is in full color, assembled in a sturdy, beautifully designed hardback edition that's like a work of art in itself. But Barry's yearning tone and desire to dwell on the mysteries of the past give the book real totemic force.