The Secret Language of Comics

Literacy Narrative 2 Reflection

I enjoyed transferring my literacy narrative from essay form to comic form. It allowed me to better visualize and see the important details along our writing journey. When I wrote my first literacy narrative, it explained the events that structured my writing in a straight-forward and factual manner.

Literacy Narrative 3 Reflection

Literacy Narrative 3 here

This literacy narrative project helped me meet my learning outcomes for this class through identifying my various writing styles. More specifically, the course facilitated me writing in multiple genres and implementing numerous modes. Additionally, I had to analyze my arguments and turn them to writing. I experienced the process of drafting, revising, editing and publishing. It was refreshing to have a structured writing process. Creating the comic version of my literacy narrative helped identify the important components of my writing journey. The comic helped me think in a more free-flowing form containing more detailed imagery and descriptive language. The comic version pushed me to alter my literacy narrative to include various types of writing styles, rather than one resembling an argumentative essay.

Literacy Narrative 3

In elementary school, my favorite activity was creative writing. My imagination would run wild as I regularly gave personalities to the fish I caught with my dad. I enjoyed writing stories from the fish’s perspective; I would narrate their life story from their birth until their last glimpse of light as they were pulled onto my dad’s boat to become that night’s dinner. My imaginative nature facilitated creative writing as my first writing style. However, as time progressed, I began writing in different styles in school. The creative writing I was accustomed to was replaced by book analyses and five-paragraph essays.

My early writing style flowed with free spirit as young Kai focused on articulating the details of the fish’s experience – what it saw, the taste of its food, etc. In contrast, my writing transitioned to display data and correlations for a presentation instead, such as in my accounting assignment two weeks ago. I wrote the events in the order they occurred with an occasional anecdote rather than by the evidence’s strength and correlation to the central argument. 

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 Following my introduction to this new writing style, my creative expression was compressed to conform to the template-based sentences my teachers appreciated. Therefore, my writing began to closely resemble this concise style my teachers preferred. I was frustrated as I constantly heard “less is more”, and the more words with less meaning I removed, the better.

In eighth grade, the focus in my english classes shifted from writing to reading. This experience was detrimental to my writing skills because I was not practicing my writing. We read frequently instead of completing written responses. Our analyses were discussion-based and we spent class time either reading together or discussing what we had read for homework. As a result, my writing skills were not being developed.

Three years later, I enrolled in AP Language and Composition. At this point in high school, I had come to terms with the fact that I was a more stem-leaning student. However, this teacher reignited my interest in writing. Through his focus on the technicals of writing, my teacher facilitated my viewing writing as an art form. In five-paragraph weekly essays, we analyzed the rhetoric developed through unique diction choices, syntax, and other literary devices. These types of assignments progressed my writing and grammar, but they did not develop my creative skills. Nevertheless, creative writing was not important to my current academic situation, and I was happy to be enjoying English class once more. 

After successfully completing AP Language and Composition, I began AP Literature and Composition confidently. During the first semester, I enjoyed the class and was content with the amount I was learning. Then, unfortunately, COVID-19 began, and my AP Literature and Composition assignments ceased for the remaining three months of high school.

Following my AP Literature and Composition class, my next academic experience was at Emory. The next phase of my writing development occurred when I was applying for the Emory investment group. During this process, I completed a stock pitch and wrote my first business writing style assignment. Compared to the writing I practiced in high school, this style of writing was less structured and more concise. Additionally, it was more research-based and involved little to know creative thinking content-wise. Since I have chosen to pursue a career in business, this is the writing style that will be most relevant to my profession. Therefore, it is ideal that my writing has developed into this style and I am content with my writing progression towards concise, business writing.

While creating this literacy narrative, I began to recognize the importance of having both a free-spirited and concise writing style readily available and being able to switch between the two. As I think about my experience completing this assignment on my Macbook Pro, I can choose to say I typed on a black and silver keyboard with 78 individual keys if needed, or I can describe how the clacking sound brought by fiercely brewing ideas and relaying them onto the keyboard reminded me of diligently clicking each letter on my assigned Dell computer during typing practice in 5th grade computer class. The lost passions for my rara avis* writing style reemerged as I reminisced on my elementary school days, and made writing this narrative enjoyable. I would hope both writing styles showed themselves throughout this story.

*Rara Avis: Latin phrase for “rare bird”, used to describe a freely moving being.

Halfa Kucha Reflection

Halfa Kucha Presentation here

When I began searching for evidence to represent the trauma and healing processes that David Small and Dana experience, I was overwhelmed by the surplus of trauma each character had encountered. For David, I could have selected to discuss how he was abused by his mother, father or grandmother. His mother lacked apathy towards her son, and David caught her sleeping with Mrs. Dillon. His dad prescribed a surplus of medications and X-rays for David, and we find out that the X-rays caused his cancer. His grandmother regularly abused him physically, and attempted to kill one of the only people he felt close with, Papa John. For Dana, I chose between a variety of her experiences getting beaten by her master, attempted rape or other mental abuse. 

I enjoyed building arguments in the form of a presentation rather than an essay because presentations emphasize the logical flow of the argument. When I write an essay, the logical flow is extremely important, but I also have to rely on the quality of my writing to deliver my message effectively. I chose to structure my argument in chronological order because I felt the events were evident enough to speak for themselves. My arguments focused on the effects David and Dana’s experiences had on them and the steps they took to heal. I organized my visuals by including entire scenes to give my audience an accurate and complete idea of the trauma the characters experienced. Still, my analytical process remains constant whether I am presenting or writing an argument. 

Tracing Pages Reflection

When I selected these pages to trace, I intended to connect how despite his grandmother being mentally and physically abusive, she still betrayed David because she is his maternal grandmother. I realized that a maternal relative is an imaginary connection if that relative never acts in love or respect towards other family members. As a result, I still enjoyed analyzing the difference in the traumas that are experienced by David Small and Tillie Waldon. David suffered the loss of a troubled grandmother and his step-grandfather nearly died, but the absence of his grandmother in his life is indisputably positive. Despite the debatable intensity of his trauma, there is an undeniable intensity in the scene. David’s mother forbade him from calling his grandmother crazy, but now his grandmother confirmed his allegation. In addition to the contents of the slides, the broken structure of the panels adds an intensity causing the reader to fear the idea of Papa John dying. 

While I think relatively more traumatizing, timing is not the primary concern during Tillie’s situation. Suspense built for the reader due to the unexpectedness of the scene and the unpredictability in her SAT tutor’s actions. I think the most interesting component of this scene is that the frame remains the same during the panels he walks to sit next to her. As soon as she realized what was happening, the consistency in the panel angle makes the reader feel like her entire world froze in fear and discomfort. Positive space is used in the first panel to show the presence of the tutor on the opposite side of the table. The next panel is the same as the last, except negative space is used and the tutor is gone. He’s walking around the table. We see that formerly negative space returns to positive, and the tutor is on her side of the table. The tutor proceeds to harass Tillie until she fends him off and he returns to the other side of the table. I enjoyed analyzing the differences between the situations within Stitches and Spinning and why they required different methods to properly portray the scene. I am intrigued by the methods the authors use to relate the structure of the panels to their intensity and content.

Tracing Pages

Traced Pages here

Stitches and Spinning are both graphic memoirs following the developmental years of David Small and Tillie Walden, respectively. Small grew up in Detroit and regularly became ill during his childhood. His parents and grandmother, who rarely showed David affection, regularly abused him mentally and physically. In Spinning, Walden’s upbringing consists of various trauma in addition to the difficulties of high school’s social pressures. On page 289 of Spinning and 275 of Stitches, Small and Walden are both traumatized and lose someone meaningful. Although both scenes portray traumatizing events, these pages are structured very differently. 

In Stitches, David Small became close with his step-grandfather, Papa John. Papa John was popular in their town and would take David to see the trains, which David enjoyed. On page 275, David’s grandmother and Papa Johns wife, who lacked sympathy and apathy for David, attempted to murder Papa John by setting their house on fire while he was locked in the basement. Papa John survived and David’s grandmother was sent to the state insane asylum. David had to experience the trauma of his abusive grandmother trying to kill one of the only people he felt close to. In Spinning, Walden had an SAT tutor who she believed was a friend of hers. On page 289, Walden goes to her final SAT study session and takes her sweatshirt off because of the temperature, revealing that she is wearing a tank top. Her SAT male tutor then sits next to her in an attempt to sexualize her, making her rightfully uncomfortable. He begins to use playful tactics to touch her and becomes increasingly aggressive until she is finally able to fight him off. Walden was scared and hurt by this experience because she “thought [they] had actually been friends.” In these texts, Small and Walden were each betrayed by individuals that were expected to have enough apathy towards them and others to act differently. 

Page 289 of Spinning and 275 of Stitches portray traumatizing events while being structured very differently. Page 289 contains four rectangular panels in a basic two-by-two formation with short and distant text bubbles for Walden. Additionally, the frame for three of the panels is the same and witnesses the event from behind Walden with no shading in the background. These details were included to slow the readers pace and emphasis the discomfort and fear felt during the situation. To contrast, page 275 of Stitches has five panels varying in four differently-sized rectangles with dense shading for the background. This page also uses lines to represent the motion of the grandmother lighting the match in the center of the page. These details and the absence of text bubbles make this scene feel quick-paced. Despite the opposing structures of the pages, both scenes portray intensity and significance.

These texts use different methods to portray intense situations to determine the pace and effect the scenes have on the readers. This page in Spinning has large panels with distant text bubbles and a lot of negative space, causing the reader to slow down and play close detail to the significance of Waldens interaction with her SAT tutor. In Stitches, Small uses smaller panels and the absence of text boxes for the reader to rapidly view the scene and display that time was a pressing matter during the situation in addition to the grandmother’s actions.