The Secret Language of Comics

Quadriptych – Hoping for the Future


I chose to do my quadriptych on my experience pledging a business fraternity. The process is labor intensive, but teaches skills that will be useful when pursuing my career in the future. During the process, it was easy to hope for the end and focus on the dreadful aspects. However, now that it’s over, it is easier to see the effect it had on my entire class and myself. I also had the opportunity to become closer with individuals at Emory I would not have met otherwise. The four-panel style of the quadriptych allows the characters in the comic to show enough thoughts and emotions to portray the situation.


This quadriptych was inspired by the pandemic and the mandatory wearing of masks. The challenging component to creating this comic was execution of the plot. I found it quite difficult to display a story that was short enough to fit into four panels. For the triptych comic it was easy to create a panel for beginning, middle, and end. However, for the quadriptych, the middle has to have two panels. Therefore, the comic has to be longer than a triptych but just long enough that it can fit into four panels. When creating the quadriptych and triptych, I needed to come up with a beginning, middle, and end for both comics. The difference was that I had to provide a slightly more detailed middle for the quadriptych. Having the middle part stretched into two panels instead of one panel meant that I had to think of a middle with two meaningful events instead of one. I wanted to create a humorous comic that everybody could understand and in some way relate to. That is why I chose to joke about the “gum mask” because everybody is wearing masks to be safe from the corona virus.

Not again…

The comic above shows a man pondering whether or not he should bet on sports games. At the beginning, he clearly is leaning away. In the middle, it is revealed that he owes a lot of money, but, in the end, the amount he owes only increases, showing he ended up betting. The challenging aspect of the comic was doing something comedic. I feel like it is easier to do something serious or ironic. Because of that, I wanted to challenge myself to make a joke that my friends will like. I did end up showing the comic to them and they did laugh and enjoy it. Having the middle stretch two panels was weird, but once executed it was easy. The first panel had no dialogue so it acted as a buffer until the character said what he needed to. I told this story to relate to my friends and make fun of them a bit. A lot of my older brother’s friends sports bet and this is a common occurrence.

Sunday Sketch 7 – Quadriptych

This comic is inspired by my high school life. I always set a time and tried to start studying at that time. However, it often failed because I could not check the time while texting my friend or watching YouTube videos. In college, I just shift my day and night, since I prefer studying at night and dawn. However, it was hard in high school, so sleep was my enemy. Crafting quadriptych was fun. Brainstorming ideas was not easy, so I kept drawing and erasing for a few times. Just like a triptych, it was hard to put a story in limited numbers of panels. However, I felt like a quadriptych is easier than a triptych, since there are more panels that I can utilize. Also, it was pretty hard to express feelings of the character through facial expression, since my drawing is simple, so there was no multiple options that I can draw. I clearly showed time change in the bottom left of each panel, since time is one of the most important features in this comic that shows the beginning, middle, and end.

Spooky Money

For the quadriptych I decided to make it using the same characters from my triptych. I wanted to see how the same or similar ideas would change from a triptych to a quadriptych. This piece is self-standing, but you can get some more interesting ideas if you read both this piece and the triptych. If you read this piece alone you might think that these two already know one another, but the triptych reveals that the ghost recruited the skeleton. Also, in the triptych it was unclear if the ghost could control lightning, but it looks like he can in this piece.

What was difficult about composing this piece was finding the right plot of events that would fit into the four panel style. I found it actually more difficult to compose the quadriptych than the triptych because you need a middle conflict that can be broken down into two essential panels. Each panel needed to be important such that when you remove one panel, it makes the story unclear. Creating the two conflict panels was difficult, but reading it as an audience, to me, felt more satisfying than reading the triptych because of that prolonged tension. The final panel is more lighthearted, giving a resolution to that tension which makes it satisfying to the reader. The beginning and ending panels still feel similar to the triptych because only one panel represented the beginning and the end. I think it would be interesting to see how to prolong the beginning/ending panels and what effect that has on me drawing it and me reading it.

Power Nap

Four-panel comic drawn by Me

Throughout high school I would often sleep very late, staying up to finish homework and projects—sometimes pulling all-nighters. However, there was times in which I’d get really sleepy but still had something to finish so I would take quick 10 to 15-minute power naps at my desk to recharge then continue working. Unfortunately, those power naps were not always succesfully carried out. I would sleep the remainder of the night and realize it until it was time to get up and ready for school—my assignment also incomplete.

Crafting this quadriptych comic was a very fun process. At first, the idea of adding one more panel in comparison to our triptych was relieving since I struggled a bit with deciding what parts of the narrative should be presented, but at the same time now it was “I gotta think of more content to present visually from the narrative”. For inspiration, I went through some of my favorite webtoon comic Safely Endangered since the author often uses these triptych and quadriptych formats. The Safely Endangered comics are very simple and really funny; since a lot of them are based on “common” happenings, such as applying eye drops or waking up still tired, I decided to think about my personal common happenings. I sketched out two different possible panel compositions. The first two panels in my first sketch included a longer version of the dialogue in my final sketch, followed by only 1 panel of sleeping before the waking up panel. The second sketch was basically the draft of my final version: one panel with short dialogue at the beginning, followed by two panels of sleeping before waking up. I went ahead and chose the second composition because having those middle two panels stretch out helps emphasize the passage of time—which plays along ironically with my “power naps”. Compared to the triptych sketch, this felt similar in having to figure out what was most appropriate way to efficiently present my narrative. However this quadriptych was different not only since I drew it rather than base it off one photo, but also it felt like I could present a longer and more detailed narrative even though it’s only a one panel difference.

It’s too late for this.

The comic is about a student who is minding their business and realizes that their laptop and analog clock don’t match up. I didn’t know the time changed until this morning, and I was so disoriented because of it. I was trying to figure out if we lost an hour or gain one for like 5 minutes. My brain was not functioning today.

In the brainstorming process, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to draw, so I kept on starting something then erasing it. I kept on doing that for like 5 times, so I changed drawing platforms. Finally, I figured out a concept that I liked. I really wanted to portray a student who was so tired that they overlooked the time change and thought something was wrong with them. I thought the story would be funny ,and others will be able to connect to it as well. I liked doing the triptych comic better than this one. I think the extra frame made it harder for me to come up for a longer plot. The layout of the panels didn’t hinder me much.

The Danger of Procrastination

For my Quadriptych I chose to make a story about procrastination. This is story was an example of some of the days I have been having this week. I chose procrastination because it is something that I have been doing a lot recently and I think many people can relate to it. This type of comic strip is a little longer than a triptych and because of that you have a little more space to develop the story.

Sketch 7: Quadriptych

This comic was inspired by the rest days the university had decided to put in place to ease the marathon of a spring semester. I chose to draw a stick figure instead of using a picture like my Triptych to switch it up and give it a more “personal” and “amateur” feel. I used a text box to match the screenshots I took from official emory communications about rest days. I think this type of comic strip was easier for me to make because I am more used to the 4 panel comic structure I see a lot on instagram, facebook, and reddit. I think the added panel allowed me to have more space to develop a story which was much harder in the three panel. I used the middle part to develop the bandaid type solution that the college had provided. I chose to tell this story because it was all I had been thinking about all week.

Sunday Sketch 7: Quadriptych

This quadriptych shows a person lying in bed late at night and on their phone. At 1:59 a.m. on Sunday, March 14th, 2021 (start of Daylight Savings Time), they vow to go to sleep after one more video. When they look at the time again, it is now suddenly 3:00 a.m. The person is shocked and thinks they spent all that time on their phone.

My design process for this quadriptych was similar to that of when I created my triptych. I brainstormed short stories that could be portrayed from start to end in a limited number of panels. One new observation I made was that a lot of popular memes have this same goal; they try to make a joke in one or a couple of images with little to no text. I was very inspired by all of the memes I saw today in reaction to the start of Daylight Savings Time. Every year, I see many people react in the same way, making this situation relatable and easy to understand. I don’t think it was harder than a triptych because of the extended middle panels. I specifically showed a time change because that could be easily shown with the change of the clock face across two panels. It would have been harder if there was no action or the story being told was not “dynamic” in any way.