Judd Winick: Reflections on Barry Ween
By Zack Smith
Ten years ago, Judd Winick was mostly known for his role on the third season of MTV’s The Real World based in San Francisco. But a pointy-haired, foul-mouthed 10-year-old with a 350 IQ was about to change all that.
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, which premiered from Image in the summer of 1999, was a breakthrough work for the young cartoonist, earning raves from the likes of Matt Wagner and Garth Ennis. The initial three-issue run, along with two subsequent volumes from Oni Press, earned a cult following for
Barry and his equally profane friend Jeremy. It was action-packed, politically incorrect, and occasionally, even touching. You can read the first issue for free here.
Ween launched Winick into the spotlight, a position fortified by his acclaimed graphic novel Pedro & Me, chronicling his friendship with the late Pedro Zamora. The success of these books helped launch Winick into a successful and sometimes controversial career writing such Marvel and DC books as Exiles, Outsiders, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and most recently Titans.
Since 2002, the comics industry has been Ween-less. But all that changes on April 1 when Oni releases The Big Book of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, collecting all of Barry’s adventures under one cover for a mere $19.95. In celebration of this, we called up Winick for a spontaneous conversation about Ween, the book’s history, and whether he’ll ever return to his creation.