The Secret Language of Comics

Halfa Kucha Reflection

Creating the halfa kucha was an interesting and new task. I had never done a voice over on any slide of a PowerPoint; nonetheless, the whole presentation. After getting the hang of it, though, I was able to go through rather quick. In the beginning I was doing each voiceover many times, but eventually I became comfortable with myself and it became much more smooth. Giving the argument verbally rather than an essay was actually easy for me. Personally, I am a good public speaker. I tend to do a good job speaking with poise and confidence. Because I was talking, it came out pretty strong after getting used to talking.

I had several thoughts about the construction of my argument. I did not know whether to combine the two books and put a picture of each on each slide, alternate, or split the project in half. Obviously, I went with doing one after the other as I think it strengthen my argument. I wanted the audience to see how each progression went without interruptions, and how both stories were pretty parallel. 

From this presentation, I learned how to manage the time well of what I was trying to say. I needed to condense each argument to twenty seconds. It made it obvious to me that I needed to take out any redundancy or miscellaneous information.  After looking at my classmates slides, it is clear that there really is no “right or wrong” way of constructing this. Each presentation is very unique in the way people formatted it. Overall, I liked the halfa kucha and would definitely like to do it again if given the option in the future for other classes.

Literacy narrative 2 reflection

Turning the literacy narrative into a comic was honestly a fun task for me. I enjoy drawing, although I am not good at it, and turning into a visual document was fun. Likewise, it helped when creating literacy narrative three as I was able to take away miscellaneous and redundant information. It was different then writing the actual essay as now I had to focus on the elements of art. I did my best to utilize line structure, tone, color, scale, and the different frame sizes. Doing this added a new prospective on my essay. It helped point out the times I was upset – dark color – or happier with more positive space. In terms of the learning outcomes, I successfully composed texts in multiple modes. The literacy narrative solely contained words whereas the comic had a combination of both. The Sunday Sketches where we made comics also contributed as it gave me practice into becoming more fluent in the making of comics. I also feel as if this helped me with drafting. Because it was another form of media, it gave me another perspective when reviewing my other work. Furthermore, I probably went through eight additional pieces of paper as I continuously made mistakes, reread my work and changed it, or simply did not like how the frames were oriented. The collaborative aspect of this is when we were put into breakout rooms and peer reviewed our work. This was actually very helpful as my group gave me a lot of really good insight as to how I can fix my work and change it for the Literacy Narrative Three. Overall, creating a comic helped me become a writer in a unique way. By seeing my work in a visual manner, I was able to learn more about myself and further my writing for the future essay.

Literacy Narrative 3

­­I had been dreading this day, but finally, it came: the day I started my Common App Personal Statement. I stared at my computer screen thinking, trying to put something on the blank page, but nothing came. I truly had no clue where to begin. I didn’t want to write about my involvement in sports or my love for marine biology, they were too cliché; I had to write about something unique to me. Then it hit me: write about my brother.

Prior to junior year, writing had never been my strong suit. Which was not only a bummer to me but my parents. Both my parents are incredible writers and have put tremendous pressure on me to write well. I was creative but could not put pen to paper in a transparent way. My old essays were filled with misplaced “howevers,” bad transitions, and very choppy sentences. That all changed junior year with a combination of ACT prep and a brutally hard English class. For me, junior year was a writing bootcamp.

I credit my mechanical improvement to my tutor Mikey. The Berkeley graduate spent hours working with me, forcing me to memorize the various grammar rules for the English section of the test. Slowly, throughout the first semester of junior year, I picked them up. I was able to work through the English section with relative ease. I was proud of myself for improving this much. I went from below average to near perfect on the section, it was clear my mechanics had improved. What I had not realized, though, is how it transferred over to my writing.

Ms. Everett is notorious at my high school for having the hardest class. At the end of the semester, kids smiled if they finish with a C. So obviously, I was worried that my GPA would plummet going into her class. And, after the first week, my concerns came to fruition; my first pop-quiz grade earned me a solid 8%, a terrifyingly low score (even for me), which jolted me to my senses and made me realize that I always need to be prepared. Regardless of how prepared I was, it didn’t stop me from getting a C on the quiz the following day. There was little feedback on my short answer questions, so I scheduled a meeting with her. Even though this was the first one-on-one conversation I had with her, she treated me like I was an old student of hers – she got straight to the point. She told me my mechanics are off, that I change tenses, I can’t transition among other things. I knew I had to put in work if I wanted to succeed, and that is exactly what I did.

I spent countless lunch periods and after school sessions meeting with her. After every assignment, I stayed in her room asking for feedback. As the semester continued, I felt my writing anxiety slip away and it was clear to me, that perhaps, my writing was improving. The combination of Mikey’s ACT prep and Ms. Everett’s one-on-one sessions, scary as they were, made me much more confident.

Once it hit me, to write about my brother, I Instantly began to type all ideas I could on the page. My brother has autism, but I knew writing about just that was not enough. I didn’t want it to be a pity, sob story, but I wanted to write so other people were able to understand what it was like having an autistic sibling. I wanted to combine something ordinary and unique to me with a story about my brother. I decided to write about Scuba Diving.

Diving is euphoric for me. I love knowing I may be looking at something no one else has seen: the first to explore a cave or see a lionfish claim new territory. I’ve even developed an interest in underwater photography, taking pictures of scenes that no one would otherwise see. But the most special part of diving for me is the time I share with my family – especially my brother Jack, who’s always my dive buddy. Although Jack sometimes struggles to be understood in everyday life, below the surface his fidgets and social awkwardness disappear. Instead, he joins me in exploring underwater caves, and together we thrive in our own secret world.

Finally, I had finished. It was time for another pair of eyes to read my work. Before showing my College Counselor, Ms. Everett, or Mikey, I wanted my mom to read it. I knew the risk of showing her first. I could already hear the “I don’t like this, let’s do another topic” before I handed her my laptop. I was prepared for failure. But that didn’t happen. In fact, she didn’t say a word. She looked up with a tear in her eye, hugged me, and said “I love you.” 

That was the main moment that brought confidence to my writing. Mikey and Ms. Everett were pivotal to my growth as a writer, but it was my mom’s approval and love that put me over the edge.

Reflection letter

This semester in “The Secret Language of Comics” has been unlike any other semester. For starters, we worked with graphic novels, a form of text I am not accustomed to, and really took apart the meaning of each individual aspect. The main aspect where this can be seen is through the Sunday Sketch Assignments. For the first Sunday sketch we created an avatar of ourselves. I chose to make a digital one, where I utilized google drawings. I had never worked with that tool before but wanted to learn. When I made the sketch, I was in quarantine for having COVID, so I had an abundance of time on my hands where I worked to create the perfect avatar: a burger. Later, visual note taking incorporated seeing my notes in a visual form. I chose to turn a probability tree into a real tree. Believe it or not, it did help me gauge a better understanding of how the actual probability tree is linked. When studying for the final, I actually made another identical tree and added on other notes. Next, Professor Morgen had us make our first comic. I had never been assigned to really make a comic for class. When I was little, I am sure I made some very, very rough comics, but never anything that was supposed to be actually turned in. For mine, I made a satirical comic about a COVID denier who goes out, gets COVID, and takes his belief to his deathbed as he repeated “COVID is not real.” Later in the semester, another assignment was to recreate a movie scene. I saw this assignment and later was going on a boat ride with my friends. Obviously, It was super fitting to recreate the iconic Titanic picture. These new, unique assignments Professor Morgen assigned were super productive in the composition of new texts. I vividly remember a class where we went into breakout rooms and shared our literacy narrative 2: the longer comic.  At the time, we were reading Spinning. My group finished sharing early and we began discussing the meaning and reasoning for why Walden included some very dark frames. Hannah and I got in to a back and forth, I was arguing it was to display a level of sadness. Because Walden showed an absence of color, I believed that it was to show that she had no one with her. Conversely, though, Hannah argued that it was to show optimism as the next page had light. That way, as you turn the page, her life gets better.

Throughout the semester, my writing definitely has improved. I credit that to a lot of reasons, but the main reason was the redrafting of the Literacy Narrative. In the beginning of the semester, Professor Morgen had us write an essay with the prompt: write an essay in which you analyze the key experiences that shaped the way you read and write. After writing what I thought was a pretty solid essay, I had a meeting with him. He tore my essay apart, highlighting my skills and weaknesses, addressing areas that needed improvement. After redrafting the essay for Literacy Narrative Three, I used his notes and addressed the problems he said I had. After reading the final essay next to the first one, it is like night and day. He wanted me to go more into detail on the interesting aspects and improve the flow of the initial anecdote. Side by side, the essays are like night and day. Moving forward, I will keep his advice and use it when writing my future assignments.

I want to give an in depth description of my Data visualization from everyday life. For this assignment, we had to “choose one concept in your life that you want to analyze, something that is not already easily and obviously measured, or doesn’t vary within the span of a day or a week. So, I chose to track five different, random categories from my everyday life. I tracked how happy I was with my previous night’s sleep, the happiness I felt towards my lunch, how satisfied I was with my lift, how satisfied I was with my social life in that day, and, lastly, how I feel mentally during the day. I graded myself on a scale each day and, at the end, put the work on a graph. The graph showed some trends that I would not have realized otherwise. For example, when I sleep and eat well, my lift is better; When I don’t have the best social interactions, my mental health grade goes down. I wanted to track aspects of my life and see how much they actually correlated. As a result, the most clear trend is between sleep and my lift. I tend to workout in the morning, so, if I am not well rested, the lift will see the repercussions. It being on a graph really helped me gauge an understanding of how much they correlated. Likewise, the link. One outlier is on day 7(April 2). April 2 was a Friday which explains several things. First, it shows the lack of lunch. I have no class on Friday so I was able to sleep in in. I missed lunch that day, but my mental health was still great. This is definitely related to the great sleep I had – seen on the.

            This class has left me with a complex and new perceptive on how I view different media. Now, when watching a movie, looking at art, or reading a comic, I have keen insight on how to analyze different forms of media. For example, on May Fourth, I watched Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t realize how much of a role color plays. Specifically, when Luke is on the verge of changing to the dark side, he changes from his usual outfit to an all black suit. With the insight I now have, I realized the reason for that; however, before, it simply did not occur to me.  

Overall, this course has been a great time. I loved reading the different graphic novels, specifically Kindred. The course gave me a new perspective on how I view texts, and I can confidently say I understand the Secret Language of Comics

Tracing Pages Reflection

The side by side comparison of Stitches and Spinning was helpful in creating a thesis about the two works. By putting them next to each other, it made realize how important color is to communicating a theme. My thesis is that the Elements of Art are significant in the representation of a visual theme. Both works create an ominous, cynical theme where the protagonist is facing struggle. This is clearly evident in the illustration of stitches.

This is my traced representation of the last frame I drew. In the book, he is literally facing his struggle: his vocal cord. I tried to make the image show that, but, in doing so, the vocal cord looks like an eye. I wanted to show a literal more clear as he is literally looking at his problem dead in the eye. This metaphor coincides with bildungsroman as it is an important step to coming of age. By doing so, he is addressing his problem, and, from here, will have to learn to adapt and live with it.

As I was looking over my annotations, it occurred to me how relevant color was in the work. Many of the elements of art coincide with color. For example, the darker lines, the dark background, and the usage of positive and negative space.

Here are four of the fifteen frames from the tracing. Obviously, color has a tremendous impact on the mood. The first three frames are bare of any color as Walden was alone, waiting in the dark. Finally, a car comes to get her and the color is there. The juxtaposition of color, makes it flow from sadness, to a glint of optimism.

This assignment definitely helped understand a new language. I didn’t realize the impact color really had on texts. Expanding to movies as well. For example, in Star Wars there is a literal “Dark Side,” where the antagonists appear in dark colors. The project helped me get a deeper understanding of the underlying issued the protagonists had in their childhood, and how hard it must have been to overcome them.

I just flipped a Stitch

The two graphic novels Stitches, by David Small, and Spinning, by Tillie Walden, are memoirs about bildungsroman. The coming to age of the two respective protagonists are have many similarities, although the stories are each unique. For started, both protagonists encounter similar trauma, whether it be emotional or physical. Small makes it evident from the beginning that he has no role models in his life, few people he can talk to, and an absence of any emotional support. This makes him feel isolated. As a result, Small is an incredibly introverted and quiet child. That being said, he is not the only one in this graphic novel who endures trauma or pain. It is clear that a common theme in the novel is suffering. This is shown by basically every character small writes about. Both parents seem to hate their life and family. Even the therapists seems to have underlying troubles. The significant aspect of this is David’s parents oblivion to this. For example, once David is recovered from his surgery, he begins to go down a dark path. Instead of trying to get help for David, his parents send him to boarding school as they believe he is a “normal, rebellious teenager.” The fact that his parents can’t even realize he is suffering plays a pivotal role in how his behavior. He begins to go on an ever-looping, depressed cycle where his life continues to unravel and fall apart in front of him. This dark cycle parallels the youth of Walden. Walden practically had the same day on repeat throughout her childhood. She would wake up incredibly early, skate, go to school, skate again, and go home. Similar to David’s reading, skating was Walden’s safe place from the trauma and unpleasantness that surrounded her.

Chute points out that authors like to tell stories of themselves as children. By doing this, they are opening up to their audience about the root of a lot of their underlying issues. They display this darkness through a literal lack of color in their illustrations. The two scenes I chose to trace and annotate are from the early childhood of both characters.

Both scenes use positive and negative light to show an ominous tone. The juxtaposition of darkness and light creates a transparent mood of sadness and shows a repetition of depression. Likewise, both illustrations feature a focal point where the subject is the clear target as they are scaled largely in comparison to the background and foreground. Another similarity is in the shading. For the most part, both illustrations use only the whiteness of the paper and different shades of dark gray or black. They use the dark black to outline the other objects in the scene. However, there is still gray shading to show the subject. Overall, the two scenes are very dark which displays the trauma which the two protagonist endured throughout their childhood. Focusing on stitches, the usage of lines shows that David is somewhat in motion. The other lines show that he is in some sort of crevice or cave as the lines are curved and move around the focal point. Small takes up a whole page with just three frames. The transitions are frank and go in chronological order, as small is delving deeper into the crevice. The crevice is actually his own mouth, and he is looking at his recently clipped vocal cord. By using only three frames, Small makes it clear that this is a significant point in the story. This is the point when David goes from being able to talk, to not being able to ever verbally communicate again. In contrast, Walden includes a bunch of small frames, showing small changes. The changes show an actual movement, similar to a flip book. That being said, there is one very large frame which takes up a quarter of the page. The frame shows her sitting alone in the dark, waiting for a ride. The reason this is big is because it displays a level of sadness to the audience as she is sad and vulnerable.

Hot Titanic

The scene I chose is obviously the iconic scene from Titanic. My friend and I were on a boat and I figured it would be the perfect time to create the iconic scene for this assignment. Titanic is one of my favorite movies as I watch it with my family a lot. Because of that, it was easy to decide which movie to do and when I was on the boat with my friend. We instantly took that picture and it is one of my favorites. I know the scene from the movie is from a different angle, but I still thought it was worth it to use this picture. It can be taken with a grain of salt as it would be incredibly hard to take that picture unprofessionally.

True story of my Lullwater walk

This True Story was actually a lot of fun to make. I recalled a walk I went on with my friends last Friday. The first picture, also the smallest, shows the group of us entering Lullwater. We all met at the top and began walking. We walked until we saw a big, abandoned structure (picture two). One of our friends – Nick – made the impulsive decision to climb the structure. In reality, the structure is at least 20 feet in the air and was just not a smart thing to do. After, he was scared about getting down seen in the fourth picture. He was stuck for a minute. Eventually, after that climactic event, we began walking back and found a large, unsteady bridge which we walked across. All in all, it was a fun time.

Creating the comic itself was a fun process as I the paper was too small at the beginning to accurately draw what I wanted. However, at the end, the paper was too big so it was hard to fill in the spaces.