Creating this literacy narrative comic was most definitely completely different from any other previous writing I have done. It was also extremely challenging all the way through the process. I think this entire writing process really emphasized the challenges brought up by the learning outcomes for this course. By reading three comic books—Stitches, Spinning, and Kindred—during the process of working on this literacy narrative comic and discussing those works along with reading additional texts such as Making Comics by Scott McCloud, it created the foundation for me to start thinking more in-depth about how these works are composed.
Previously, I have read multiple comics, but I have never processed them as thoroughly as I have done in this class. I feel like in the past while reading comics, I only absorbed the reading as getting an understanding of the plot and having pretty visuals to go along with it—almost like a children’s picture book, but yet because there is usually more content it felt more “mature” reading. That mindset of comics basically just being the visual version of some story’s transcript is probably what made it quite challenging for me once I actually started working on making my comic based on my alphabetic literacy narrative. I wanted to represent my narrative visually, basically word for word. But, the thing I have learned about comics is that the author must really think and strategize about how much information they provide for the reader; it cannot be too vague, but just enough that the reader can understand what is going on without being confused and if there are minor details left out, they can make their own assumptions—based on what the author has already provided. This also caused me to re-write my alphabetic narrative so I could have a clearer idea and organization of what I wanted to depict through my comic.
Because comics implement both words and visuals to present a narrative simultaneously, I decided to make my visuals a combination of images that literally depict whatever explanation I give in the panel as well as images of specific subject matter that remain stored in my photographic memory. While at first, I was unsure of going with that approach because it did not feel much like a “story” as compared to the comics we have read—rather it reminded me more of the Romeo and Juliet “Draw My Life” video I did back in eighth grade—I then realized it is a story, but it simply does not feel the same because I am not using over two hundred pages to tell it.
That realization made me feel a bit more confident in my comic. I wish I could have implemented more thoroughly thought-of and cool choices of moment and choices of frame in my comic, but I think that since I did not have the time to make a whole book with a fuller story for each section—with that “in the moment of action” vibe that can be presented through moment to moment panels—it was what limited my choices a bit. This made me focus a bit more on my choice of image and choice of flow. Just like my choice of image, I wanted to make my choice of flow easy for the reader to follow along. Just how the memories progress with time in a pretty linear manner in my mind, I wanted to depict that. Additionally, in my first rough draft sketches, I was planning to include multiple panels per page, but I decided to cut some off and rearrange the composition on several pages to try and make a clearer distinction of the sections/moments in time I talk about.
Link to Comic
Making an alphabetic essay to a comic was very interesting and fun. Before I started working on the comic, I went to the writing center and rewrote the essay, keeping in mind this will turn into a comic. I had mental images of what I wanted to draw while I was reworking my essay. The rewriting process prepared me when it came time to draw a comic because I already had a vague idea what certain panels will look like.
Before the drawing process, I had to think about what I wanted to include in the pages and how the story builds on. I had to think about my essay in a board way then add more details. The rough sketch of the comic really helped because I was able to mess with how I wanted to format everything. Beforehand, I was able to visually think how the story should progress and what scenes are important. We mentioned something in class about structure and how making a comic provides more structure than the aplahbetic essay. I totally agree because I tried to focus on how each thing will add to another and how to make things cohesive. I had to leave out a couple of things from the alphabetic essay because I wanted the comic to be short and sweet. Straight to the point. When I would read through my essay to see how I wanted to draw it, I would have a perfect picture in my mind, and it was harder than I thought drawing it out. I think that goes with any type of drawing, but it was my first time using a digital software to draw something a little more intricate.
For my text, I chose to handwrite it rather than have a text box. The handwriting was so the comic can be more authentic in a way, and it was also easier. Overall, I wanted the comic to be authentic and not be like the frames in “Sabrina.” It also allowed for there to be more of me in the comic. Not only is my story in the comic but also my unique handwriting. This is my first comic, so there is bound to be rustic, in a way. If I knew what I was doing, I would’ve focused on the art itself and making it more realistic. More backgrounds and details. Even without the addition, I think I was able to put enough in that the comic does not feel incomplete. I also tried to incorporate different perspectives in the comic, but it kinda just felt right. Especially with the three frames of the book falling from the sky, the change in perspective, to me at least, was humorous. Hopeful, others think the same way.
I enjoyed creating the comic and thinking of different ways to present an idea. This assignment kinda inspired me to maybe in the future make more comics. We will see if that ever happens. Lol.
This writing process has helped me achieve many of the learning outcomes for this class. The process of transforming my written literacy narrative into a comic allowed me to write across different genres and formats. I used technology for the large majority of the process, more so in making the comic version. I published the written text version of the narrative to my website, a digital platform. I used an app to create my comics, with the use of typed text, images from the Web, and other technological elements. Overall, the process involved the repetition of research, drafting, editing, and reflecting. I went through multiple drafts of the written text to make sure it sounded good and the comic in order to see which format of frames I liked the best. After getting feedback from classmates and other peers, I implemented changes so that my comic would be a better experience for readers. As I edited the comic, it inspired me to make a few edits to the written text as well.
There were a couple of major differences between writing my narrative as written text versus a comic. In the written text, it was easy for me to write freely by adding as many details as I wanted, within reason. For the comic, I had to downsize the amount of the narrative I wanted to tell. If I included every aspect of my written text, I would have had many more pages of frames. In order for my comic to be effective, I had to be even pickier about the details I included to ensure I wasn’t wasting valuable space. The comic format was easier in that I already had visualizations in my head of the scenes played out in my narrative. All I had to do was draw them out which took time but as a visual person, this format is more effective for me to explain my thoughts and opinions. Now that I have two different formats to compare to one another, I feel like the comic represents me more accurately. It is a representation of how my narrative is organized internally. I like that it has to be efficient because it gets the point across. In contrast, my written text can become clouded with fluff which can be distracting to readers.
On my second, final draft of my comic, I made more intentional decisions. I chose bright colors to represent how vivid these memories are and how vivid my childhood was. These memories brought a lot of happiness and forms of familial love and connection to me as a child. I chose different perspectives that represented different points in the narrative. For example, sometimes the frame was zoomed into a specific element in order to emphasize its importance. If I had more time and professional help, I would have changed the organization and design of the actual frames. I made different formats of frames from my storyboard draft however, I still feel like the organization could be even more creative. I would also find ways to make time shifts more smooth and coherent. In some cases, it can seem sudden when time shifts.
Link to the final comic: https://selazzioui.wordpress.com/literacy-narrative-part-2/
This assignment was definitely very different from any essay or narrative that I have written before. Due to the visual nature of medium, creating my narrative comic was rather challenging because I purely had to show not tell. In other words, I had to not only identify the most important elements of my written narrative but also effectively illustrate them. The two resources that helped me the most during this process was Scott McCloud’s Making Comics and Hillary Chute’s Comics for Grown-ups. Scott McCloud’s work introduced me to several fundamental concepts of comic illustrating such as moment, frame, and image. These concepts helped me recognize what makes a comic successful in storytelling. Specifically, I used these concepts in the beginning of my comic when I establish the setting as my middle school. In the first sequence of panels, the images go from general to more specific. The first panel of the comic is an outside image of my school, and the last panel of the sequence is the door of my classroom.
Hillary Chute’s Comics for Grown-ups was also useful. By reading Chute’s work, I realized that comics can be poetic in a certain sense. Panels not only show the constant passing of time, but the author can choose to make illusions or perhaps give the reader a rather unique intended direction of reading. Furthermore, Chute’s work gave me the liberty to be more experimental and creative with my comic. By applying the principles of these two works to my comic, I successfully synthesized and evaluated ideas scholarly sources and applied them to my own work.
My literacy narrative was quite different as a comic than as a standard piece of writing. In my comic, I wanted the illustrations within the panels to do a majority of the story telling. Therefore, I had to turn my written narrative into a more comprehensive story, so that it could fit the medium. I could not simply state retrospectively that my attitude towards reading changed. Instead, I had to show how it changed through experiences and memories. One example of me doing this, is on page 4 of my comic. In my written narrative, I simply stated that I struggled to read Romeo and Juliet during freshman year of high school. However, I wanted to elaborate upon my reading struggles, so I illustrated multiple books alongside pictures of myself being confused. By doing this, I think my comic is more effective in showing my struggles firsthand, than my written narrative. Once I finished my comic, I realized that my written narrative lacked emotion and personality. My written work was effective in telling a story, but I think my comic would connect better with an audience because I am truly shared my thoughts and past life experiences.
Given that I am not an amazing artist, I wanted the drawing style of my comic to be pretty simple. Going into the comic, I knew my limits as artist and tried to work around them. That is why there is never any dialogue within the panels themselves. However, with a simple art style, I made sure to vary the format of each page as well as the size of the panels. I do not think that my illustrative style hindered my comic too much. I think a professional illustrative would aid my work but improving my drawings would have no impact on the story I am trying to tell.
After completing my comic, I realized that the work that I have done reflects the learning outcomes of the class. Firstly, comics involves multiple types of literacy, and to complete my comic I used multiple modes communication to express my ideas and help the readers understand the plot of my comic. Whether it be using different colours or sizes of panels, I used different techniques to help the readers realize what is significant and what is not. Also, the entire process of completing my comic involved several steps from making the first draft of my literacy narrative and the comic, to editing it and turning the final copy into the final comic. This showed that I practiced writing as a process, drafting and editing my words while writing reflections like this. Finally, I used technology appropriately as I used my iPad to sketch out my comic and revise it into the final copy. If the same process was done on paper, I think it would’ve taken more time and would not be as efficient.
Overall, I think it is different to write my literacy narrative as a comic. As a comic, some of the aspects of the literacy narrative had to be turned into a visual representation, and after those aspects were added, the story itself became more obvious as to how I became a reader. I feel that I did not need to explain as much in the comic as the essay since I could show certain things using images directly. I also realized some of the unnecessary details in my alphabetic literacy narrative that does not contribute to the bigger plot or storyline. I think turning my literacy narrative into a comic helped me see it from the readers’ perspective, and I really realized what I need to include in both formats of my literacy narrative to make them better.
When creating my comic, I had to select only the important events or details to include. If I tried to include every single detail, my comic would be very long and hard for the readers to follow along. This realization came after looking at my old comic and the feedbacks. I thought about how my comic would look from an outsider’s perspective, and some of the panels simply did not make sense. Also, I tried to make the comic all the same colour except for important details or events. I made everything black, with occasional usage of red to emphasize certain moments or details. I also added some panels with only words in them. This gave my comic a sectional feel, and it is easier for the readers to follow along my journey that I described. Overall, I think I used some writing techniques when composing my comic, which I learned from other assignments that I competed this semester.
Comic can also be found here
I mentioned this in class but it was a challenge determining how to layout my comic, since with essay’s the only things writers really have to worry about is where to break off a paragraph. It was also fun to choose how to visually represent certain things, such as my repeated failures in 4th grade or the “FCAT” taking the forum of a pure black cat with judgemental eyes. Another difference was, for my comic, a lot of stuff I liked in my literacy narrative had to be left out. I wanted to explain why I struggled so much as a kid in school but I realized that the reason why I struggled didn’t matter as much as the effect it had on me and what I had to do to overcome the fear I gained from the FCAT. This did help be to see my story in a different way. It is so easy to be mad at that situation but writing it out then drawing it made me realize how little that event really was in comparison to the impact it had on me.I had to think more about how this event actually changed me. In the future whenever I have to analyze writing I can’t just focus on any single part, events that happen on just page one of a book can have effects lasting all the way to the final paragraph.
In my comic I had to take a, well let’s call it a “minimalist” style. I had to sacrifice backgrounds for the sake of time (and sanity). If I had more time or artist skill I would have loved to add in backgrounds, seeing the school background slowly progress from elementary to middle to high school would have been a nice effect. I’m also pretty lousy at drawing still, especially real people. I simplified faces a lot just so I could save time and I didn’t have to look up 800 references. It would of also been nice to just make it longer, there was a lot of stuff that’s important to me that I had to leave out. It’s hard to tell my entire 19 year long journey in writing in just 4 pages, and I didn’t even get the chance to touch on my experiences with reading and the burnout I felt at the end of highschool.
Drawing this comic was a very enjoyable experience. I did not end up sticking to my original written narrative in part one. Instead, I took certain elements from the written narrative and weaved it into a different story. This helped in creating a more engaging comic because this new story had more visual potential than the recounting of events that led up to my writing style. The written narrative was more linear, and I did not think that it would make an engaging comic. When I came up with my idea for the comic, ideas started going off in my head, almost in a sporadic and non-linear way, which was the opposite of the original. This worked well for the comic medium because I could arrange my ideas spatially in two dimensions rather than the linear one dimension. My many ideas lead me to make a series of choices, but once they were made through the storyboard draft, it felt much easier to draw this comic than it was to write the narrative.
The first page is most similar to my narrative. It is almost like a traditional comic where you have three panels and images and text inside them. Instead of regular side-by-side rectangular panels, I decided to use overlapping puzzle pieces. This not only hints at what is to come in the comic, but also creates early conflict because the overlapping puzzles block the audience’s view of the scenes. I hoped this conflict would encourage the audience to continue reading and find the resolution of the first page in the last page, where a completed puzzle can be found.
A lot of what I am trying to do in this comic is to encourage the audience to read outside of the panels by going against convention. The second page uses squiggly rectangles as panels. This creates a connection to the bottom panel on the first page where I am thinking, but also echoes the traditional thought bubbles in most comics, in order to signify that I am talking about my thoughts. I also try to push the readers to look outside the panels by drawing a web that connects the second panel to the others. Thus, creating a story that is not bound by the panels.
The third page combines the puzzle piece theme and the squiggly rectangle theme, bringing some sense of resolution from the two drastically different panel styles in the two previous pages. Despite this, the worm’s eye view perspective of the scene highlights the difficulty of the task, which ultimately resolves in a nice fitting puzzle in the last page, concluding both the story in the panels and the story outside of the panels.
Overall, this was a very fun process. I think that this medium really brought out my creative side compared to the written narrative. If I had more time, I would probably try to incorporate some more detail and color. Right now, it is monochrome, and I don’t think there’s any particular significance in the colors I use. I wonder if using or adding different colors will change the meaning and story of the comic?
This assignment was definitely more challenging than the title makes it sound—sure the act of tracing the pages was easy but that was literally it. When I was thinking of what two pages to trace, I went through my bookmarked pages—there was pages I thought seemed important while I read along so I would bookmark them. The page I selected from Stitches was one I had bookmarked, however when I was going through my bookmarked pages in Spinning, I could not find one that seemed at first sight “easily comparable” to my chosen Stitches page, so I flipped through pages within the areas of bookmarked ones until I kind of decided to just do a “random” one. I traced and annotated my Stitches page first, feeling decently confident about the details I was noticing as I worked, then while my chosen Spinning page did not seem comparable at first sight, once I started tracing and adding annotations, I was noticing a few compositional things of comics’ secret language that were implemented in both pages but presented in different ways. This point of view was completely different than when I was reading the comics for the first time; the first reading, I was more focused on the storyline and while I obviously acknowledged the visuals, it wasn’t in this critical and analytical point of view.
I always have trouble writing “traditional” essays with the thesis sentence at the beginning because I usually don’t know what I’m even going to write about. And, while this format was supposed to be more helpful in the sense that you can just get started and not worry about the thesis statement until the end since it will be a synthesis of your main claims, I still did not really know what to write about/how to structure what I wanted to talk about. Additionally, thinking of how to word my thesis statement even at the end was still stressful. I think this process felt similarly stressful to writing other essays because even when I write in the “traditional” structure, I kind of make some weak thesis statement or skip it and just start writing, then return to it later… In the end, I made my thesis statement: David Small and Tillie Walden’s choices of flow, moment, and image work cooperatively to provide the reader with enough information to decode the narrative. While it may seem like the reader has not much other than the visual representations to rely on for decoding the meaning in these individual pages with minimal text, both Small and Walden set up these pages in a way that provides just enough information for the reader’s comprehension.
You can find my annotated traced pages along with my essay here.
Analysing text has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I know I have issues with taking things from text too literally, or looking over small details in the process of picturing the scene in my mind. Thankfully with comics, I feel like I am a bit better at analysis. Being able to see all the components of the scene at once instead of having to skim the text over and over again is easier for me and I pick up on details more. Tracing also helped me to pick up details that I hadn’t noticed before like the lamp in Stitches.
Writing a thesis at the end was tricky for me. I’ve always been taught to start out with the thesis and usually during the essay I will keep on referring back to it to make sure I don’t get too off topic. Of course I had the thesis in mind when I wrote the essay but I didn’t actually have it written out. I was afraid my essay sounded too ramble-ly in my essay but I think with enough editing I avoided it ok.
I feel like this assignment did help me to unlock the “secret language”. I am a fast reader, much to the detriment of my reading comprehension. Taking the time to trace these pages and really get to know them helped me realize that no detail is put on the page without reason. Until I did this analysis I didn’t get quite how they were different. I knew they were different of course, but until I did I couldn’t say what exact elements made them stand out from each other (Like the shading in each book).
Original Assignment Post
The Tracing Pages assignment was something that I’ve never done before. I thought that the process of first tracing, then annotating and then finally writing the essay was very conductive to the inductive style of writing. Normally I try to start from the claim or thesis, but the tracing and the annotating made me notice patterns, which allowed me to make a claim. The challenge was actually choosing which patterns to include because 500-750 words is limited space.
It was almost like building from the ground up, which mimics the style of the essay. Even though this was new, I have done something similar to inductive writing, but we did not have the last section where we synthesized what we talked about. The synthesis was definitely the hardest part to put together because it was completely new and it was almost like backwards thinking. What really helped me through this was to write and then come back to it some other time to see if the ideas in the synthesis were coherent.
Overall I think that this essay assignment helped me better understand the Secret Language of comics. Language is built from small units and writing or thinking inductively throughout this assignment helped me uncover those small units and piece them together into a message. You can read this essay where I make the claim that both Spinning and Stitches use dualities in time and color to create a relationship with the audience. You’ll see how the two things create a message within the story and how they combine to serve an audience.