The Secret Language of Comics

Tracing Stitches and Spinning: Reflection

Stitches and Spinning both utilize a litany of literary conventions to assist the audience’s reading of the text, but Stitches focuses on establishing an emotional reaction from the audience whereas Spinning’s conventions focus on emphasizing the understanding of the plot. When annotating Stitches, I recognized that the panels consisted of vibrant pictures with little to no text. In addition to the action to action panel based motion, Small attempts to deliver an emotional reaction from the audience. On the other hand, Spinning delivers character thought based panels, utilizing facial expressions and internal dialogue to portray the mental state of Tillie, the main character. 

While tracing the papers, I became more aware of the facial expressions of the characters and the details of the settings within the panels. Being more aware of the imagery used by the author, I had a greater understanding of the emotional state that the characters were in. Tracing the outline of the panels accentuated the importance of the flow of the panels. There is no defined direction of the panels so it is up to the author to create effective flow of the panels for the reader to easily follow along. Annotating the comic pages consisted of more elements to consider. Analyzing the text within the panels was not much of a priority, but instead, I found myself interpreting the motion of the panels and the imagery. 

Traditionally, I would initially formulate a thesis, and then write my essay based on the thesis. However, in the process of writing this tracing essay, I analyzed and wrote the two pattern paragraphs first and then constructed my thesis that built off of those patterns. The structure of this essay was fundamentally reversed compared to the traditional five paragraph essay that students wrote in high school. This method of writing allowed me to have a stronger analytical view on the two pages from the comics. 

    In conclusion, this essay has revealed to me the dynamics of comics and the secret language that goes along with it. There are many details in imagery, the structure of the panels for reader flow, and more that are overlooked by the audience. I have a better understanding of the main character, Tillie, in Spinning after this tracing assignment. I realized that Tillie has a slight dissociation with reality through the internal dialogue that overpower the textboxes in the panels. The biggest insight I gained from this assignment is the different moments in each page. I never really considered the time period of the scene(s) in each page. 

Assignment Prompt