Sketch 11: Assembly

For my 11th sketch, I decided to frame all the assignments we did this year as components of an eye. Over the course of this semester, I learned a lot about the possibilities and the depth of graphic novels. I thought a good way to show what I learned would be through a literal eye. I broke down the 4 major assignments we did this year to show how they helped me learn about graphic novels:

Tracing Maus: After reading our first graphic novel, Maus, I was shocked. I didn’t know that graphic novels could be so serious, deep and dense. By tracing it, I analyzed the pages closely and it helped “open my eyes” to the diversity and potential of graphic novels, just like an eye-lid open the eye to the world.

Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang: After Maus we read two graphic novels which, although they shared a similar style, they approached and used the medium in very different ways. By comparing and contrasting the two, I saw how flexible and customizable the genre is, similar to how the iris filters light and allows different colors and shades to be seen.

Literacy narrative: After reading and studying a few graphic novels, we wrote and illustrated our own mini-novels and I was able to understand the struggle in writing, planning and creating a graphic novel. This is similar to the pupil/the back of the eye, where light is processed and turned into something comprehensible.

Mapping Spinning: The last graphic novel we read was Spinning, which we analyzed for some non-obvious pattern. It was an exercise in seeking underlying messages and themes of graphic novels to understand the depth they can have. It was a fascinating process where we looked past the surface for patterns. (Not really sure what the white part of the eyeball does but it felt fitting to put the mapping Spinning assignment there…)

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Mapping Spinning Reflection

I set out to map something about Spinning by Tillie Walden, but what that something was I didn’t know. I had skimmed the book multiple times, looking for different visual or textual patterns but couldn’t make out anything too anomalous that might inspire me. However, when I was skimming, I did realize that there are surprisingly few male characters in the graphic novel. What then came to mind was: why was that? While looking for a possible reason for why there were so few males, I noticed that a lot of the male characters Tillie interacts with in the novel have a bad influence/effect on her. The skating coach in New Jersey was nothing but a taskmaster to her, the SAT tutor sexually assaulted her, even her own twin brother turns from friend to dissenter when Tillie tells him that she’s gay. I figured that this may have been a reason for including so few male characters; Tille doesn’t have many good experiences with men (at least as portrayed in Spinning)

My map shows how I attempted to quantify the effects of the male characters on Tillie. It is not a map that is totally reflective of my findings (I have some more data that I wasn’t able to fit into the graph) but it got the main points across. I chose the format I did to visually show which males effected her the most and in which ways. I think the use of size and color to show which characters were good or bad, stressful or less so was a good way to simplify the info I’m trying to get across. It is not a perfect map though, the numbers I gave each character are my best approximation of how all the factors I studied reflect on that person and the graph could be more expansive with the amount of topics covered. I spent a long time looking around for different info-graph types and templates but couldn’t find one that fit my needs much better than the one I chose.

I think looking at the book through the graph I created brings attention to the pattern of negative male interactions that some might otherwise miss when reading the book. It is easy to miss just how few men are in the novel and how their interactions with Tillie influence her thought process and life. The graph reveals this pattern which reading the book panel by panel may not make so obvious.

Data Visualization

For my project, I chose to track my stress levels over the course of a few weeks. Since stress is such an intangible things, I was curious how stress manifests itself in my day-to-day life. To quantify that I decided to assess my stress levels through four different measurements: anxiety level, number of hours slept, time listened to music and number of pages read. I tracked these four measurements for two weeks, during which I had tests, homework, papers, social events and events for extracurricular clubs. Looking back on these two weeks, they are fairly representative of most of my college life so far, in terms of stress.

I set out to find out how stress shows itself in my everyday life and I believe I got the answer, at least in some ways, that I expected. Of course I couldn’t track every aspect of my life for two weeks so narrowing down on things I do consistently daily was important. I was conflicted as to what to include – there are many things I do every day – but landed on a few daily activities that measure both leisure time and work time, physical things and psychological things. I chose anxiety as my first indicator because it is almost directly linked with stress and I’ve had a complicated history with anxiety before, so I’ve had practice tracking it. I chose hours of sleep because, through my tracking of anxiety, I found that my sleep is directly effected by the amount of stress I am undergoing. I measured the number of hours I listened to music because I generally listen to music everywhere I go, whenever I can, so I figured, since I generally can’t listen to music when working or studying, I could track the amount of stress I was experiencing by paying attention to how much music I listened to every day, the less music listened to, the more stress I was undergoing. Lastly I chose to measure the amount of pages I read each day. I chose this measurement because a lot of my stress is related to work I do on a daily basis. A lot of that work comes in the form of reading, so I figured that depending on how much reading I did that day, I could track the amount of work I had and therefore stress I was.

Tracking wasn’t hard, I was able to remember to track and log all the measurements I set out to track. I thought a while about what the best way to visualize all the data was. After trying a few of the programs suggested by Professor Morgen, I decided to use the free-website Infogram, which was very easy to use.

The conclusions I drew from the resulting data was at first a little shocking. I surprised myself with how little I sleep sometimes, how many hours I spend with headphones on and with the amount of pages I read a day (it always feels like more…). However, once I thought about the results a little harder, I realized that I really was not that surprised after all; I had been living the numbers for almost a year and seeing them on a screen, while initially startling, started to make sense. I found myself saying “that seems about right…”. I guess that’s a pretty unsatisfying conclusion, but it makes sense to me. If I were to continue this project further I think I would change a couple measurements. I think instead of looking at the level of anxiety I experience and the number of pages I read, I would choose to track the number of times I complained about something in a day and the amount of words written (either by hand or digitally). I think those two combined with the other two measurements I kept would make for a much more interesting and telling statistic.

You can access the Infogram here.

Comparing Pyongyang and Palestine Reflection

The main idea of my essay is that although Pyongyang and Palestine are graphic novels composed of many vignettes which strong together to form a narrative, the two books are different. The illustration style, use of text and narration and the way the vignettes coalesce into one narrative vary, Pyongyang’s felt to me, what I described as, like Purgatory whereas Palestine felt very real and journalistic and chaotic.

Coming up with the argument was not that hard for me. After Professor Morgen said that we should write about something that we didn’t fully understand when comparing the two books, I immediately thought of something that had been on my mind for a while: why did the two books give off such different vibes? I went back to my room that day and without thinking too much quickly had a basic outline on paper. It didn’t take too long to put sentences in and pretty soon the essay was finished. The one problem I had was defining what I meant by “Purgatory”. I didn’t want to take up too much space explaining it but I had to describe it somehow. I’m not sure I did the best I could have but I think the idea got across.

You can access the essay here.

Recreating the Godfather

For some reason I knew immediately that I wanted to recreate this famous poster/scene from The Godfather. It’s an iconic movie and an iconic picture and I thought it would be really funny and cool to enact it.

I borrowed my friend’s bowtie which he uses for orchestra (he wouldn’t let me adjust the size, that’s why it’s so large on me). I also had him pick a flower from outside. I slicked my hair back and got another friend of mine to take the shot. Sorry it came out so blurry, he didn’t really know how to handle the camera.

I had a lot of fun creating, framing and making this picture. It was an interesting process, picking apart the picture and trying to recreate the minutiae of it. I had to do a large amount of editing to get it to where it is now.

Literacy Narrative Comic

The process of making this comic was a unique one. Starting with the assignment of writing the text version of the narrative was an essay I had never tried before. Then converting it into a short comic was even more of a challenge. I debated for a while over what to include and how to include it. I finally decided to focus mainly on the part of my narrative that talked about my first comics/graphic novels; it seemed relevant. After trying to sketch a few different character types, I got the idea to draw it in the same style as the first graphic novel: Bone. The odd white figures seem out of place to most people but I think it really added to the tone, for me at least. My first draft had a really confusing panel structure- we had just finished reading Palestine by Joe Sacco and his dense illustration style must have influenced me. I got critiques on it in the group review session but I knew it was coming. I changed the structure to more panels and now I think the comic works much better and reads more fluently.

I really enjoyed doing the assignment because it was fun not only to remember all those days reading comics, but I really liked the cartooning part, especially since I was able to imitate the Bone style.


Creating my photocombo was relatively simple. As soon as I saw the assignment I began brainstorming ideas, looking for things around me to inspire me. I saw my friends stuffed animal in his room and the rest was easy. Finding the right pictures was a bit of a challenge but after a short amount of searching I found what I needed. I tried editing the photos together in Flickr but couldn’t figure out how to do it so I decided to do on google-drawings. It was pretty easy to align the two with a little fiddling. I really enjoyed the project because of its simplicity and its creativity.Combophoto

A True Story

Drawing and writing a true story was not as hard as I thought it would be. I wasn’t sure at first what to draw, there a million-and-one conversations, places and people I could have drawn but not many of my experiences over break spoke to me on a deeper level. The day my Emory friends came over was a weird one and I had a nagging feeling the entire day of something being off and when they left I was able to pinpoint exactly what it was. I was a little undecided as to how to approach the whole comic but I think I draw more from Sacco’s style of large panels with less traditional structure and text which describes a feeling more than a statement of truth. I felt that the sites that we went to would only be done justice by the structure I chose and I also felt that it helped me portray how I felt and experienced the whole thing.

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Literacy Narrative Comic Draft+Reflection

During class when we passed around the rough drafts of our Literacy Narrative’s I both received a lot of helpful feedback and absorbed aspects of other people’s comics that I might want to incorporate into my own.  From the responses I got, it seemed to me that most people were able to understand the basic story and themes I was going for (which is pretty impressive because the sketch is admittedly pretty rough). A few things that people pointed out to me that I might want to change were the dialogue, which as of right now is lacking, perspective changes and most importantly, panel structure. I got a lot of criticism for having a cluttered and complicated panel structure. I understand the criticism and had a similar reaction myself when I looked back at what I had sketched after a day or two without looking at it. I think it would be a good idea to break up what I have now into smaller panels. This would make the story more organized and the visuals more manageable. From seeing other people’s comics I realized that it’s a good idea to follow their suggestions, so that will be the main thing I try to incorporate into my comic as well as the other suggestions made.New Doc 2018-03-20_2New Doc 2018-03-20_1

Tracing Maus Reflection

The writing process for this assignment was a little harder than for previous ones for me. A couple things in this assignment were new for me. I had never traced a comic page before, I found it it can be quite a long process. I’ve never tried writing in close analytical detail of a graphic novel before and when I tried, at first I was lost as to what to say, how extract meaning form a page of drawing. The page notations helped, seeing some notes pointing to the specific details on the page helped sharpen my ideas and I was able to write easier after that. I also have never tried to write three different posts which are supposed to reference/relate to one another simultaneously. The way I approached it was to first write just about the idea at hand and then once I had finished all of the different pages, when I had was editing, I would add connection points to each. The annotated pages really helped here because I was able to see visually how the ideas all connected so it made writing about it easier. Overall I think it was a challenging assignment but one that I learned a lot from and had a lot of fun doing.

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