Before COVID-19 struck us here in the U.S., I was still debating on what college I would declare to attend by Decision Day, but there was one thing that I knew for sure would occur to me no matter where I decided to go: I am super awkard and shy so it’s always usually pretty hard for me to interact with strangers and make acquaintances and/or friends right away. However, COVID made its grand and unwelcomed appearance and suddenly whatever that “traditional college freshman year experience” is was completely revamped. Whatever little insignificant expectation I had—such as “I’m going to get lost trying to find my classes”—was thrown out the window. So, basically my only expectation still standing was “it’s going to be awkard and tough meeting new people and making friends”, even more so given that all my classes were through zoom regardless of my geographical status living on campus that first semester. As expected, I did not make more than one new (1) friend and one (1) new solid acquaintance who I felt comfortable and not awkard interacting with. I’ve grown up, preferring to be solo most of the time, yet something about living in a place that I had previously seen pictures of, with crowds of people, and feeling confined to my dorm room by myself made feelings of isolation skyrocket—surpassing my expectation of “loneliness”.
I had lots of trouble crafting my narrative. First off, I did not even know what to write about—to make up a scenario or to go with something based on personal experience? i decided to go through my photos first and see if I could get some inspiration and surely, I did. Yet, again, it always has to do with sky pictures with me, so at first, I was planning on writing about my trips to my house’s rooftop to view the sunsets. But, upon coming across a photo I took at the lonely Quad last semester—photo that I really like too—I knew I wanted to use it and split it for my three panels. At first, I was not able to figure out an efficient way to split my photo evenly and adding the text, until I remembered two apps I used before: one to split a panorama photo so I could post it on instagram “completely” and Phonto to add the text on the images. Coming up with the “caption” was the next challenging thing. Having selected the photo, thinking back to the emotions I had that day I took it, I knew I wanted to write about that topic but I wasn’t sure how to convey it, so I pondered over it for a while, until I decided to just make it the simplest I could. Crafting this triptych it felt very similar to the process of creating my literative narrative comic rough draft; I had to think about the choice of wording and the choice of frame—I purposely cropped my photo so the chair would be on a panel by its own—to convey my story.
This Sunday Sketch was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Telling a full story with only three images and a few words seems like such a difficult task, but for some reason, I immediately thought to use this particular set of photos. In our senior year of high school, my friends and I were doing a photoshoot right before homecoming. For one of our poses, my friends lifted me up, and the photographer just so happened to capture the moment my friends dropped me. There is actually an entire succession of photos that details that moment, but to create this triptych, I picked the three photos that I thought could depict the entire event. I decided I wanted to make my comic strip humorous, so I employed the wordplay of the phrase “lift you up” at the end.
My triptych is a conversation between two people and the miscommunication when discussing their relationship status. I chose this as an idea for my triptych because I wanted it to be funny yet relatable. This specific snippet of the conversations seems to interrupt the peaceful night they have under the stars. Miscommunication is something that happens in a lot of relationships romantic and platonic so someone on some level has experienced a situation similar to this. This was a fun project to find something to turn into a 3 part comic that was funny yet still had some seriousness to it. This comic was a little different to the type of work I have done previously but it was a fun way to interact with my work.
In How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden carry out an extended discussion of comics through repeated analysis of the single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959 (at the top of this post). They explain that “one of the least tangible yet most significant implements in the cartoonist’s toolbox is the varied use of rhythms.[…] One repetition makes a pair. But add another and the repetitions have become a series, the basic building block of all rhythm. A set of three has the smallest number of elements that can establish a pattern (as well as violate it). Three implies more to come” (134).
For this week’s sketch assignment, create your own triptych comic. As you compose your triptych, I most want you to focus on creating a story with a very clear beginning, middle, and end. Your story can be minimalist, impressionistic, comic, dark, weird or whatever you want it to be — but make sure that each panel of the triptych moves that story forward from beginning to middle to end.
You can draw your triptych, or create one using photographs, maybe along similar lines as the webcomic A Softer World, which ran weekly for about twelve years starting in Feb 2003. Emily and Joey published 1248 comics in that time, each consisting of three panels with photographs and words superimposed on them – often it seems to be a single image cropped into three panels, but sometimes it’s three photos taken as a series – and then the title of the comic appears when you hover your mouse over the comic (creating space for a sort of fourth panel or commentary). The comics tend to be quite dark.
I’m looking for compact and playful storytelling through both images and words. It’s an opportunity for you to play with irony, humor, and/or wit.
Add a paragraph reflecting on your triptych comic. What choices did you make in crafting your narrative? Describe the composition process a little bit. What was challenging about this assignment? How is crafting this sort of comic strip different or similar to other writing you’ve done this semester?