Throughout this semester, our assignments have been highly unique and unconventional. For that reason, each assignment presented a new challenge. As someone who was unaccustomed to visual writing and thinking, I noticed that with each task I faced a recurring obstacle. And that obstacle was forethought. Again and again, I found myself at a standstill when trying to conceptualize what I was going to draw, or design, or conceptualize: all while remaining within the assignment guidelines. I found that the harder I thought, the further I became from an idea. Which is why I chose to use the “tip of the tongue” theory as a metaphor for my experience in this class. Ultimately, I realized that most of my ideas came to mind when I stopped thinking. Moreover, when I kept the eventual goal in the back of my mind, and observed stimuli naturally, than I could clearly and decisively conceptualize a connection between them.
My life has never been prioritized by a particular sport or passion. So when reading this novel, I was astonished by how much skating consumed Tillie Walden’s everyday life. Let alone at such a young and impressionable age. So almost immediately, I knew that I wanted to map the novel’s depiction of her time spent skating. I wanted to visualize how often she was on the ice, and how often she was elsewhere. But, I immediately figured that the majority of her time “off the ice” would still be spent near the rink, so I wanted to include time spent near the rink in addition to time spent outside it.
I decided to dummy code the variables: assigning each of them numerical values. I coded a “0” for time spent outside the ice rink (at school, at home, etc.). A “1” for time spent near the rink (locker room, benches, etc.). And a “2” for time spent on the ice (practicing or competing). So for each page where Tillie appeared skating, I recorded a “2,” and followed suit for the other two variables.
My first impression of the original data map was that it looked like a barcode. My second was being surprised by how little time was recorded outside the ice rink. I was also surprised to gather that the majority of the pages depicted Tillie near the rink, and not actually on the ice. I was most intrigued, however, by the gaps in the bar graph, which symbolized time spent outside the rink. In developing my final data map, I uncovered that nearly all of the novel’s major events took place during these periods, including: Tillie meeting Lindsay, Tillie spending the night with Rae, and Tillie coming out to her parents. Furthermore, it seemed that each of these moments symbolized key developmental stages in Tillie’s life. Nearly every positive interaction within the novel took place outside the ice rink. Meanwhile, events that occurred on and around the ice largely consisted of ruminations, frustrations, and negligible banter.
These quantitative and qualitative findings led me to conclude that Spinning is not really about skating, but about stages of growth in adolescent life. Among the most important of these stages being a struggle to discover, accept, and embrace one’s identity. I have gathered that Tillie’s confinement to the ice rink was more or less a metaphor for her inability to embrace her homosexual identity.
When starting this assignment, I was uncertain of what comparisons I would focus on. I was aware of many superficial differences and similarities between the two texts, but I needed to create a visual representation to narrow my focus. So I began the brainstorming process by building a comparison chart. This allowed me to conceptualize their differences in narrative structure. While my initial comparison noted numerous similarities in plot, I began to notice some stark differences in style of narrative. I highlighted Delisle’s use of subtlety in Pyongyang and juxtaposed it with Sacco’s use portrayal of boisterous disarray. While the two texts report journeys through countries where citizens suffer under oppressive regimes, the individual narratives are told in very different ways. I highlight these differences in my final comparison.
It took awhile to come up with a decent idea for this assignment. When brainstorming, I instinctively tried to select two variables that would be likely to show a correlation. And because the media seems to associate physical exercise almost exclusively with positive outcomes, I figured that exercise may be positively correlated with happiness. Measuring daily exercise output was simple: I would use the health app on my iPhone to track distance (in miles) travelled per day. Deciding how to measure happiness was the tricky part, but I eventually figured that frequency of laughter would serve as a relative indicator for happiness. Recording laughter was by far the most difficult part of this process. In the beginning especially, I constantly forgot to record laughs throughout the day. It was difficult to consciously draw my attention to something so habitual. Though, overtime it became routine and easier to record.
My immediate prediction for this experiment was that miles travelled would be positively correlated laughter. In other words, the more I exercised the happier I would be that day. Though, interestingly enough, the results of my data analysis (more or less) displayed the opposite trend. While I must acknowledge there were a number of outliers, such as day 3, 10, 12 and 15, the results displayed a slight negative correlation between exercise and happiness. In other words the lazier I was that day the more I laughed!
I also envisioned that laughter would be lowest during the weekdays and would gradually increase in proximity to the weekends: ultimately peaking on Fridays and Saturdays. However, several days where frequent laughter was recorded, including the day I laughed the most, actually took place in the beginning or middle of the week. I laughed the most on a Tuesday, which is surprising because Tuesday is my busiest workday, and far from the weekend. I laughed the least on a Sunday, which is less surprising because Sunday marks the end of the weekend and I’ve never really liked Sundays in general. Circling back to the primary finding of this experiment, the negative correlation between miles travelled and laughter, I have wondered what aspects of my lifestyle may explain this trend. Maybe on the days I exercised less I was spending more time with friends (which can often take place around a TV or a dinner table): resulting in more laughter. Or maybe the days I exercised more I was too busy and preoccupied to laugh, or was too tired and therefore needed to sleep more. Nonetheless, I think most of my friends would report that I am extremely lazy and laugh at pretty much everything.
When composing my visual, I compiled the data I had been tracking on an Excel document and created a line graph. I then used Patina and drew in some aesthetic details to make it more visually appealing and to accentuate notable peaks and valleys in my graph. After looking at the final product I came to the conclusion that I don’t exercise as often as I should, which is bad. But I laugh very frequently, which is good!
I found this assignment to be quite fun! I had originally planned on recreating a scene from the Lion King: the scene where Simba is being lifted up into the air. But my friend wouldn’t let me borrow her dog, so I had to continue brainstorming. Eventually, I recalled this scene from one of my favorite comedies: Superbad. I always thought this scene was hilarious, especially because of Christopher Mintz-Plasse and his iconic awkwardness. Luckily, my roommate happens to be a photographer, so he was really helpful when organizing this shot. Though unexpected, I do feel a sort of deeper connection to this movie now, or at the very least I’ve created a memory that I will always attached to this film. Lastly, I do attribute a bit of irony to this submission, because I may in fact be the only member of this class who is of legal drinking age!
Through the process of creating this comic book, I learned a number of things. First, writing comics is HARD WORK and extremely time-consuming. Unlike an essay, which you can go back and change during the revision stages, changing a panel within your comic means changing the REST of the panels in your comic. This can be a tedious and frustrating process. However, this process helped me learn and acquire a deeper understanding of comics and their subtleties. It definitely allowed me to develop a newfound appreciation for comics and comic book writers. It’s interesting how they have a reputation of being frivolous and juvenile, when they are in fact extremely complex and multi-faceted beneath the surface level. Comics make for a very stimulating reading experience in my opinion, and I hope readers of my comic would say the same!
This assignment took a LONG time to complete. And unlike the past assignments, it wasn’t just the initial brainstorming stage that made it so time-consuming, but every stage. It was extremely difficult to imagine two objects that could fit seamlessly together, especially given an unlimited number of objects to choose from. I changed ideas probably a dozen times until I finally landed on these two. The idea finally entered my mind when I stopped trying to think of images and started trying to think of a story, or in this case a joke. As a student on a college campus, the idea of drinking (and hangovers) came to mind, and I eventually made the comparison of a can of beer to a bottle of Advil. Even with the idea in mind, the combination process was extremely difficult. I mixed-and-matched a number of beer cans before coming across a can that resembled an Advil bottle in size and color-scheme: the Corona Extra can. I am really happy with how it turned out, though I do wish I could have found a higher-resolution image of the Advil bottle, and I definitely think I could have come up with a more clever name!
This assignment was a rare occasion because for the first time I actually knew exactly what I was going to draw the moment I read the prompt. Furthermore, the images for each panel came to mind relatively quickly. Strangely enough, it was writing and formatting the text which ended up being the biggest challenge; something that I don’t normally struggle with. I think this occurred because I began by drawing the images before developing a written narrative. So, I had to sort of connect-the-dots with my pre-existing illustrations. Between Spiegelman and Sacco, I would say my comic is far more resemblant of Spiegelman’s style of story-telling, though my dialogue and illustrations are far less exciting!
When approaching this assignment, I wanted to take on sketching without too much planning. Often I find that creativity is hindered by over-thinking and over-analyzing content, so I began drawing lines and creating the borders of my panels; using a pen so I couldn’t erase or backtrack. When sketching the images of individual moments from my narrative I tried to stray from using a single perspective, and attempted to compose creative renderings of my dialogue. I wanted to diversify the panels to make for a more interesting reading experience; alternating different shapes and sizes. I’m fairly happy with my rough sketch; the text has not yet been incorporated but the sketches I have currently will provide an outline for the text that will follow. Than I will be able to fine-tune the images, change the specs of certain panels, and incorporate shade and color.