Once the visual component of my literacy narrative was added, I had a clearer direction for my storyline. I’m definitely going to go back and rewrite or at least revisit my literacy narrative, because the visual helped narrow in on the direction and message I wanted to focus on.
When deciding what to draw in each frame, I focused on either the setting of the scene (i.e. the library) or a line that I could create visually (i.e. “follow in her footsteps”). I realized after creating the comic that I don’t prefer alphanumeric writing because I find it harder to organize my thoughts and find the words that express what I’m trying to convey to the reader. I noticed that none of my frames have people actually talking to one another, and I think that’s because I’m not the best at drawing people. Also, the story is written in the past tense so adding conversations would be switching to present tense, which could be confusing for both me to create and for the reader to read.
One aspect of my comic I tried to portray was how the lamp was bright when my mom was healthy, and then everything went dark after she was gone. I didn’t use words to express that and left it up to the reader to figure out. I also used less detail as the story went on to symbolize the emptiness in my life without my mom’s presence. I took up both of the last two frames for dramatic effect and to try and represent a moment with a greater and significant impact.
Writing my literacy narrative was one thing, but making a comic out of it was a challenge from a whole other world. When writing my narrative, I did not have to focus as much on the fluidity of an actual narrative, which led to some unnecessary information regarding the narrative to be uselessly scattered throughout. Once I had to put my narrative into a comic, I was forced to rethink everything I had written down in order to properly narrate it and pass it onto a coherent story. Passing it as comics made me realize what parts had to be readjusted, and what parts required more emphasis in order to make it a more effective narrative.
As I developed the comic, I had a clear idea of exactly how I wanted to develop my images in order to portray the story in the way I wanted. However, there was one problem with that: I have no illustration skills whatsoever, so I was limited to the few drawing skills I possessed in order to create the images I had envisioned. Hypothetically speaking, I would have been 100% satisfied with my literacy narrative comic if I had a private illustrator to whom I could explain all my ideas in order to properly place them on paper.
This was a great experience in my opinion, because even though I will not be an illustrator or writer in the future, it made me improve my writing skills and the way I approach narrating anything as a whole, given that this project helped me discover the best ways to display and properly narrate anything.
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.
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!
*Will fully write when reflection post is up to have more clear idea of what to write*
This was a tough process full of windy roads and constant doubts.
But we made it.
Literacy Narrative: The Comic
When I first was told of this assignment, I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate this aspect. I initially thought I would stay close to the text, but after going over sketching and outlining I decided to take a lighter approach. Unlike the comics we have read for class thus far, I chose to incorporate color. Whenever I think back to my youth, I had always associated comics with superheroes and bright colors, so I wanted to do so in my own comics. One thing I didn’t anticipate in regard to coloring is the sheer amount of time it takes to properly shade in a panel; let alone sketching. All in all the time spent on each panel was a little over an hour. However, there was no burden in completing this assignment. I can honestly admit this was the first time, I have ever felt in any capacity like a true artist. It has been extremely gratifying and has allowed me to garner great respect even for the lowest of craftsman. If nothing else, I have a new found admiration for artists dedication and frequent excellence.
Returning my own experience, I wanted the comic to be lighthearted and imaginative. I wanted to challenge myself by limiting speech to its absolute concision. In doing so, I was required to carefully draw and shade. I chose predominantly primary colors in order to highlight each of the different aspects within the panels. I was somewhat limited in the number of shades I had, but chose the most fitting for each section.
In regard to story structure, I did my best to ensure its simplicity due to the comic’s lack of linguistic expression. I began the story right outside the tour bus, so the reader would understand some background and help guide the time lapse. I then took the story into their seats where the main character would spend the most of his time. The first seated panel depicts a breaking off of a likely previous conversation in order for either individual to read or relax. The next panel focuses in on the main character opening the book and a new world. The large bottom panel then shows the book emanating light as if commencing a magical encounter. The next page begins with a panel showing his imagination bubble emerging, but not with any content yet. The subsequent panel depicts the main character closing his eyes after reading the material, and envisioning people from the story. The large middle section shows the main character transported to the world of the story in a large landscape. After that, the character is nudged awake then told they have arrived in New York.
Creating this comic book felt like the first time in my adult years that I am proud of a drawing oriented work that I have done. It took me a long time to learn how to use the Wacom (which is a tool for drawing in photoshop) but after getting the hang of it, I became comfortable in being able to draw this comic book. I knew it would take a lot of time that I necessarily didn’t have to put into. But I truly wanted to turn in work that I was proud of and wouldn’t be ashamed. My comic book is sorta about the struggle o being dyslexic and not being able to succeed when you put a lot of effort into the readings and this assignment truly felt like something that if I put the effort into it, that I would truly be able to get something good out of it. This is probably the single most favorite assignment I’ve had in college, and probably remain at the top until I graduate.
My comic book
I really had a lot of fun drawing and editing my comic. The projects I complete normally rarely have to do with myself and my own personal experiences so it was very refreshing to analyze my own piece of text and create my own expression of the work as both the author and reader. I took the time to read the feedback from my peers after I completed a (very) rough draft of this comic and I feel as though I truly captured the light-hearted emotion that I intended in both pieces. I added more detail and completed thoughts that may not have been explicitly written. The comic, although focuses heavily on the images, relies on a lot of the text to truly shape the story. Leaving out color was an artistic choice that I made in order for the reader to not be as distracted.