In the coming week, we will finish up reading and discussing Art Spiegelman’s Maus books, but probably the bulk of your time spent on this class over the next week will be devoted to your projects.
Between now and when we meet on Tuesday, in addition to publishing your triptych comic you should also be working on tracing your pages — you should probably have one page finished and at least have the second one chosen over the weekend. We’ll touch base on how the tracing and analysis are coming in class on Tuesday, so be thinking about any questions you have as you work.
(Note that I forgot to distribute the second sheet of tracing paper in class on Thursday, so I’ve put sheets in a big yellow envelope outside my office door — hanging just beneath my name plaque on the wall. There are definitely enough for everyone to get another sheet, but probably aren’t enough sheets for everyone to take 2, so please be considerate.)
You should also be working on storyboarding and rough sketches of your literacy narrative comic. Those drafts won’t be due until after spring break, but you will definitely not want to leave them until the last moment.
Next weekend, after you’ve posted sketch 6 you’ll have a break from those assignments until the week after you get back from spring break.
“Comics, in fact, is a medium that involves a substantial degree of reader participation to stitch together narrative meaning” (22).
Art Spiegelman: “The comix I like, and try to do, can be read slowly and often…. I try to make every panel count and sometimes work as long as a month on a page…. I’m excited by the ‘secret language’ of comics — the underlying formal elements that create the illusions” (24)
“At it’s most basic, we can say that comics is a spatially site-specific form of literature. In this way, too, comics can also be like poetry, in which the line breaks and stanzas and arrangements of words on the page all carry meaning.[…] Comics does not propose linear reading in the same way prose does. Cognitively, one’s eye usually first takes in the whole page, even when one decides to start in the upper-left corner and move left to right. This is sometimes called comic’s ‘all-at-onceness,’ or its ‘symphonic effect.’ In comics, reading can happen in all directions; this open-endedness, and attention to choice in how one interacts with the pages, is part of the appeal of comics narrative” (24-5).
Perhaps interesting for further thought on this
In Why Comics?, Hillary Chute reprints a two-page spread from Richard McGuire’s Here (2014) (pp. 26-7), a comic that tells the story of a single room over the course of billions of years. The book originated as a 36-panel story published in 1989 in Raw, the comics journal edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly.
Please sign up for a time to meet with me using this Google doc. If none of the listed times can possibly work for you, please let me know and I’ll try to arrange something with you individually — but really do try to accommodate this schedule.
And please make sure that you note the time you sign up for in your calendar and remember to show up. I’m happy to be able to take the time to meet with you individually but it is frustrating when you don’t show up as scheduled.
As I said at the end of class on Thursday, Maus is about the Holocaust and so you should be prepared for the book to address difficult, painful subjects. One of the topics we’ll certainly discuss about the book is how Spiegelman handles such emotionally charged subjects and events.
Pay careful attention to the structure of these two chapters. How does Spiegelman indicate the different timeframes included in the narrative? How is the narrative framed? Who are the major characters and how does he distinguish between them, both visually and in the text? How would you classify the genre of the book? Where does Spiegelman’s text fall on McCloud’s Picture Plane triangle?
After you’ve finished reading the first two chapters of Maus, but before class on Tuesday, please watch this very short video by Nerdwriter in which he analyzes one of the first pages from Maus:
Nerdwriter’s video essay is really interesting in a number of ways — and it also touches on the sort of analysis I’ll be asking you to carry out for your major project on Maus, so you should definitely watch it carefully and we’ll be talking about it in class.
Note: I’ve added a follow button, like those that automatically show up on your WordPress sites. If you’re here on the posts page, you should have a “Follow” displayed in your browser (for me, it’s on the bottom-right of the screen, but YMMV). If you want to get email updates any time a post is published, click on it and enter your email address there, then confirm the subscription when you receive the email. Fair warning, since there are 20 of us publishing to the site now, you’ll get a lot of number of email updates, but you’ll know any time a new post goes up.
By sometime Sunday night, create your square avatar image for sketch 1, insert it into a post and publish it. If you’d given me the URL for your course site with a comment here as of Saturday morning, then your site is currently set to syndicate here (which means that within a few minutes after you publish your post, it should automagically republish there). As y’all publish your avatars, I’ll update the list of student sites.
You should also begin working on your literacy narratives, which should be published before we meet as a class on Thursday (there will be opportunities for revision).
Come to class on Tuesday having read the first chapter of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. There are now a number of scholars, critics, and writers doing work on comics, but for a long time it was just McCloud creating books like this one. We’ll spend some time in class debating McCloud’s definitions. Also on Tuesday, we’ll discuss the literacy narratives a bit and, now that syndication is working, we’ll go over how pages and posts work and how syndication functions for you to “turn in” your projects. And we’ll spend a few minutes on Creative Commons licensing.
On Thursday, we’ll spend a lot of class working with the literacy narratives you will have published by then. We’ll also discuss “Why Rhetoric?” and, if there’s time, take a look at a couple of brief examples of graphic novel memoirs in advance of starting Maus.
Then over the weekend, you’ll transform one set of notes from one of your classes this week into visual notes for your second sketch assignment.