The Secret Language of Comics

What’s in my bag?

What I carry around with me at home

Since I’m doing classes from home this semester I put away my backpack but this is usually what I have at my desk on a daily basis or when I feel like doing work in the living room, I carry it over with me.

  1. 5-Subject journal: I used this last semester—not much—so I’m continuing to use it this semester to take notes for some of my classes such as psych, anthropology, and some annotations while I read the comics for this class.
  2. Bullet journal (bujo): I started creating my own bujo sophomore year of high school when I found out about them through my friend, and have continued since. Last semester, however, I only made a spread for the first week of school then I felt so unmotivated that I switched to a store-bought planner my sister had gifted me for my birthday earlier in the year, so this journal still had more than enough pages for me to actually use it consistently this semester. Not only does it help me be aware of deadlines and stay on track—in addition to an excel masterlist calendar which isn’t as detailed either way—every week, but it’s also very rewarding for me crossing off completed tasks.
  3. Pencil case: My handy-dandy pencil case which I’ve had since sophomore year of high school—I wanted to feel like my school life was in order sophomore year. In the picture you can only see the “front half” but you can flip over the middle flap to see the “back half”. It holds my pencil, mildliners, gel pens, micron pens, my 2 tombow fudenosuke pens—which are actually dried out, I need to replace them :(—some additional highlighters, markers I use for my bujo’s accent colors, my white-out tape, and some sticky notes.
  4. Vaseline: I suffer from chapped lips all the time and I’d always buy chapsticks—also always lose them—until I read somewhere that chapstick isn’t really as effective as they’re supposed to be. I don’t know if it was chapstick that would just encourage it to be an endless loop of me constantly licking my lips and making them more chapped or if it was just a bad habit of mine sort of thing, but I made the switch to vaseline and it works so much better for me. I bought this mini version from Walmart; there was an even minier and cuter version but this seemed like it would last longer and still be easy to carry. Although it is way bigger than thin little chapsticks, I recently did manage to lose it for a couple of days. Oops.
  5. Airpods: If I’m not in class and not doing homework that requires me to listen to a video or any type of audio, I most likely have my airpods in listening to music.
  6. Laptop: With all my classes being virtual, this is essentially my top priority tool.
  7. Laptop charger: Can’t be letting my laptop die on me while I’m in class—it’s only happened once—or while I’m doing homework.
  8. 4-in-1 USB-C Hub: I use this adapter for multiple reasons; when I want to extend my laptop charger just a bit more, when I download music and want to transfer it to my phone, when I don’t have any other source of electricity to charge my phone—such as when the power went out a couple weeks ago—and also if I need to connect a flash drive or something.
  9. Phone charger: Although I am trying to get better at minimizing my unnecessary screentime, I still use my phone a lot, especially if I’m doing Japanese homework, and I need to consult Papago to check if my translations could make sense and also to scan my assigned workbook pages, so my phone needs to be charged.
  10. Genki textbook: My Japanese textbook which I use pretty much on a daily—during the two synchronous days that we do in-class practice and while I do asynchronous work—to look back on and check vocabulary or practice/study.
  11. Genki workbook: We get homework assigned and it’s due every Tuesday and Thursday; we often get at least 3 workbook pages assigned for each deadline. It’s probably due to me simply being slow and constantly looking back and forth through my notes, wanting to answer everything as “correctly” as I think it is based on my notes, but it will take me forever to complete 3 pages—ESPECIALLY if they’re kanji practice pages.
  12. JPN notes journal: I had this spare journal last year and was originally planning to use it as my bujo—once I finished up my current one—but last semester my Japanese professor would do short asynchronous lecture videos to explain the textbook grammar structures more concisely, so I decided to use it for notes instead. I didn’t finish it up last semester, so I continued to use it this semester, however I actually just used up the last page last week but it’s all good since I ordered some new ones ahead of time. I also use this a whole lot too along with the textbook—during in-class practice, while I do my homework, even for the quick review before my first test last week.

I would say it felt rather easy crafting a self-portrait through this photograph. Maybe not completely easy in terms of the composition—I could not have too many things or else it would be tough to capture everything the way I wanted to AND I had to figure out how to arrange the components to make my overall composition look balanced. Of course, not everything about me is included “in my bag”, but I believe what I display is pretty telling of the type of organized and responsible person I am—or at least try to be. Representing myself in a catalog of the stuff in my bag could be considered a type of writing, but maybe not so directly. The photograph could be considered like a sort of visual story-telling—the items symbolize what type of person I am or what I do—but it doesn’t become a form of writing until I physically type out descriptions.


When thinking of ideas for what my avatar should be or include, I felt like I had several to choose from. However, once I started to look for appropriately licensed images, most of my ideas were cut back so I started to rethink and decided to maybe do a collage with photos I have taken myself. My hobby and liking of photography began sometime in middle school (I want to say around seventh grade) when I started to take pictures of the sky—whether it was because I thought the clouds or sunset color(s) of it looked cool. I started to take photography “more seriously” and expanded my range of what I photographed after enrolling in a photography course my sophomore year of high school. I like taking pictures of flowers/plants after it rains because they have cute little water droplets all over, I also like taking pictures of cool/pretty architecture (a decently large section of my camera roll during the dates of fall semester consists of Emory buildings). But, the type of pictures that still dominate my camera roll are sky photos so I used one of many—which was a very difficult decision as well—for the background of my avatar.

I was thinking of simply adding my name on the sky picture, but then I thought that would be a bit too plain—even though I consider myself to be a minimalist. I named my website mieldiez which is the direct Spanish translation of Honey10. Honey10 is the name for fans of the K-Pop group UP10TION, which is my top favorite group. I have been a fan of UP10TION since 2016 and have made many memories that are dear to me through the years as a fan of them, so I decided to do a doodle of their lightstick—which is technically a fancy battery-powered glowstick for concerts—and included my name in it. The doodle was a bit difficult, yet fun, to do since I am not very skilled nor used to doing digital art; when I draw, it has mainly been traditional art.

Sketch 4: Combophoto

Due: 9/29

Tag: sk4

Stephen Mcmennamy is an Atlanta artist and Creative Director at the advertising firm BBDO. He first came to my attention when I saw his series of “combophotos” that splice together two different images to form a surreal new creation.

Here are a few examples from him:

cauliflower + poodle

paintbrush + spaghetti

bridge + guitar

Take a few moments to look through the images he’s posted on his site linked above or on his Tumblr or his Instagram. Then create your own square combophoto and publish it to your site. You can take your own photos, but probably you’ll want to use CC_licensed images you find on Flickr — make sure you give credit to the originals that you modify to create your combophoto.

The level of technical aptitude for this assignment is actually relatively small, just simple cropping and resizing. The greater part of the challenge is thinking creatively and finding images that you can work with. That said, note that Mcmennamy comes up with ideas and then specifically stages photos to combine, and he seems to often spend significant amounts of time shooting and selecting his images. You won’t have lots of time, models you can hire, or expensive photo equipment to work with, so I don’t necessarily expect your final images to be as polished and perfectly aligned as his are. More important is for you to be playful and come up with images that combine to create something funny or witty or striking.

To edit the two photos together, you can use whatever photo editing software you’d like. Pixlr is a good free web app, as is PicMonkey. Adobe Photoshop is also available for you to use on the computers in the Media Library on the 4th floor of the Woodruff Library.

Once you have your image, publish it in a post on your class site. Don’t forget to give it a funny or witty title! Tag your post “sk4

Write a paragraph about how you went about choosing the two images you combined and why. What challenges did you face as you created your combophoto? What do you think your final image conveys?

Sketch 6: What’s in your bag?

Due: 10/13

Tag: sk6

Find a relatively large empty space. Take your backpack, messenger bag, or whatever sort of bag you carry around with you regularly, empty all the contents out, and arrange them carefully so that they represent a visual snapshot of the stuff you tote around with you on a normal day. Then take a clear photo showing your bag and the stuff and upload it to your site.

Note that like the avatar or the literacy narrative, this too is a type of autobiographical composition. If you have something in your bag that is private, embarrassing, or for some other reason you don’t want it in the picture then make the editorial decision not to include it. Or vice versa: if you would like to assume a certain kind of persona then you might consider including items in your catalog that might be less than fully true.

Add some text to your post listing the items represented in your photo, preferably adding in a bit of explanatory and/or funny commentary along the way. This can be a paragraph of text or a list or whatever format seems most appropriate for you. When these sorts of posts are done by publications, like say The Verge or Timbuk2, they are often not so subtle efforts at product placement but for our purposes there is no reason for you to engage in such advertising games.

Along with the photo and your description of the items, include a paragraph reflecting on what it was like to craft a self-portrait through this photograph. How actually representative is this image of you as a person? What sorts of choices did you make in order to create the image? What was challenging about this assignment? Is representing yourself in a catalog of the stuff in your bag a type of writing? Why or why not?