The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing

A Model of the Brain

For this week’s final Sunday Sketch Assignment I chose to depict a diagram of a brain and the break down of components that I have obtained over these past few months. I represented each of the learning outcomes and my own personal growth to demonstrate all of what I have been able to learn. I have development as a writer in several ways through all of the assignments we’ve done and picked up new techniques for reading and writing that will help me for a long time to come. The work that I have completed this semester fits into all of these learning outcomes because they are truly what I have been able to gain from this experience and this diagram of the brain represents the assimilation of each of them to my own mind as well.

An Updated Literacy Narrative of my Life

Re-visualizing my literacy narrative has been a truly eye opening process for me. My original literacy narrative and this updated version, The Story Behind the Pan and Paper, depict very different aspects of my journey with reading and writing. While creating these drafts, it became clear to me that the story I wished to share with the world had changed immensely. In this new version I decided to dive head first into the true driving forces behind my literacy journey instead of the surface level story in my original. Thus, I was forced to expand my analytical thinking and break down the experiences and memories that eventually drove me to my love for reading and writing. Doing this allowed for a deeper writing process that was, at times nerve-wracking, but ultimately liberating as I was able to share my story and release some of the trauma that I’ve faced in my life.

After working with a visual medium in creating the comic version, this story seemed to fully come alive in my mind. It was difficult to draw each image and relive the memories that I was depicting, but it gave me the opportunity to look back at these experiences and what I really felt in those moments. Creating the comic provided me with a deeper understanding of my real story and all the emotions that came with it.

The literacy narrative assignment as a whole has truly challenged me to become a better writer and to look back at some of the most traumatic moments of my life. As for the learning outcomes for this course, I believe completing this project as helped me meet many of them. Writing as a process has been one outcome that I have really come to understand because of this project. My first draft was not my best work, but it allowed me to reflect and think deeper in order to complete my comic and final narrative. Along with this, the comic portion of this assignment forced me to imagine my story visually and compose it in a medium that had been all new to me. Ultimately, the literacy narrative project provided me with great progression as a writer. It has taught me many things about myself and showed me the potential I have for the future. I feel very proud of the work that I have completed and will use what I have learned from this assignment for all of my writing to come.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial… kind of

For this week’s recreation of a movie assignment I chose to depict a scene from the classic movie- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. When I saw the picture of this particular scene I knew it be great to try to recreate. I already had the red sweatshirt and I saw a weird sloth stuffed animal hanging from my roommate’s bed that would make the perfect E.T., so I grabbed that and a basket from my residence hall lounge and hopped on some random bike for the picture. Ultimately, I think it turned out really great and I had a lot of fun completing this assignment.

The Happiest Place on Earth

A few weeks ago I took a trip down to Florida to spend the day at Disney World with my sister, my mom, my mom’s friend, and her children. As someone who isn’t used to being around many children, it often got very tiresome listening to their arguing, complaining, and just overall incompetence. Throughout the day, one of the children continuously fell behind our group as we traveled through the busy park and eventually we could no longer find her. Her mother rightfully began freaking out and searching all over the surrounding area. Five or ten minutes later when we were about ready to send out a full search and rescue party she nonchalantly walked back up to us with a turkey leg in her hand and not a care in the world. When trying to decide on a story for my comic I thought back to this moment with the suspense and unexpected ending and knew it would be the perfect one to share. Having a very limited space to recreate this story I wanted to focus on the overall progression of the events. I centered in on the initial reactions, the development of the settings, and the unanticipated ending that arose. The Tell a True Story Assignment gave me the opportunity to look back at the past few weeks and find the event which would best be framed into a comedic short comic. I really enjoy this particular memory and thus this assignment as well.

The Reflection of my Literacy Comic

Creating the Literacy Narrative Comic has been a very strenuous process for me. Making any kind of comic was something that I felt very intimidated by because it was such a new and unfamiliar medium for me. I believe the process of turning my narrative into this visual representation was extremely beneficial for my personal development, not only as a writer, but as a human being as well. This assignment really took me out of my comfort zone, but ultimately gave me a deeper understanding of literature in all types of mediums and made me proud of my accomplishment in such a novel field. 

Adding illustrations to my literacy narrative felt like it turned an essay about my literacy journey into a deeper and more interesting piece of work. Once the visual component was incorporated, reading my narrative became a more emotive experience for me. I was able to get a better understanding of the deeper feelings behind my journey into reading and writing and hopefully provide my audience with some emotional context through my drawings. During the peer editing workshop, one piece of feedback that I received was that they felt as if the facial expressions drawn provided them with the emotion of the panels without even reading the text. This was a great confirmation that my comic was on the right track to what I had been picturing in my head. It was my goal to create something that would hopefully depict the strong feelings in my story and what reading and writing truly meant to me. Ultimately, I believe I achieved these goals and created a comic that speaks louder than any essay of mine could’ve possibly done.

My original literacy narrative was much different than the story that my comic portrays now. When I first wrote my narrative it was difficult to think about all the internal reasons that I began to love reading and writing so I focused on some of the external factors that influenced my literacy journal. However, after a one on one conference that I had, I realized that it was important to dive deeper into the true story that I knew was hidden underneath. As this is a class that is rooted in trauma, I felt that I was only right to share some of mine through this comic. I wanted to make it very personal to me and provide my audience with a further understanding of who I am and what I have gone through in my life. While making my comic I spent a lot of time trying to create illustrations that were aesthetic and easy to understand. I’ve never been the best at drawing, but I tried really hard to display something that showed details and the emotion behind each of the characters. I decided not to write out my text, but to type it in instead in order to make the comic look more presentable and professional for my audience. Although this process has been slightly difficult for me both physically and emotionally, I feel very proud about the outcome and the work that I put in to make this comic the best that it could be. This assignment has definitely helped me grow and has showed me so much about the value of visual thinking as a whole.

The Cinematic Affect on my Life

For the Sunday Sketch Assignment this week I chose to focus on a very important question- how do movies affect my life? I have quite an unhealthy obsession with movies and this assignment really helped with deconstructing just how severe my love for film is. I watch movies every single day so this week I decided to track what movies I watched, how many hours I spent watching movies and doing work each day, and my overall mood each night. I believe a lot can be drawn from my data and the conclusions made say a lot about who I am and what I enjoy.

It became very clear to me this week that my time spent on watching movies drastically towers over the time I spend working on homework or studying. This may or may not be an issue that I should address. I feel that as long as I have the ability to complete all my necessary work and do well in my classes in the time that I allot for school than I should have the freedom to watch as many movies I want. However, with that being said, I know that I have a tendency to procrastinate and that it would probably be more beneficial to me in the long run if I spent more time doing my work and furthering my education than spending all my time watching movies. Although this may be a negative affect that comes from my love of movies there are a lot of positives ones that I found as well. It’s obvious that watching movies greatly increases my mood. I absolutely love it. The days spent watching more movies and doing less work were definitely my happiest, especially if they were good movies. And the movies I watched this week were all great movies. Which leads my to my last conclusion, I have a fantastic taste in movies. I watched some classic films this week that were all types of hilarious, inspirational, and all around amazing choices. It’s very hard for me to find a movie I don’t like, but this week the movies were above and beyond all my expectations.

The visualization of my data was the trickiest part of this assignment. I wanted to display it in a way that was fun and aesthetically pleasing. I had never made any kind of infographic or needed to display any data in a sophisticated way like this so it was definitely a learning process. I decided to use a varying assortment of colors to make the data pop and use a word cloud, comparative bar graph, and pictorial bars to easily understand all the data I tracked. I had a good time this week learning more about tracking data and how to effectively portray my findings. This was something that was new to me, but it is a vital tool to have for the future. If I were to continue this assignment, I would find a another way that would make tracking my data more easy and accurate. It was a little difficult to remember to record my activities at all times, but the information I discovered was definitely important for the self-analysis of my life at this time. I was glad to have the opportunity to properly answer my posed question. Movies affect everything about my life. They immensely impact my time, my mood, and definitely my studies. This was vital to know because it allows me to adjust my life in order to better accommodate both my long-term goals and present state of health through balancing out my time and making decisions that are better for my overall sense of well-being.

Through the Window of Life

The creation of this visual poem has been my favorite assignment to date. I’ve always loved blackout poems and the idea of recycling the innovation of others into new and unique pieces of work. I have no idea what the real page had said before, but it is completely irrelevant because this is now something original and different that the author assisted me in creating. I chose statements in the original text that interested me and connected to one another in a compelling way. I feel that the poem I was able to form from this is actually quite strong and works well in context. Even though none of the lines had any relation in the original text they now come together to provide a new story and a deeper meaning to the page.

Painting is a very cathartic outlet for me. I do not consider myself to be very good, but it is something that I could do for hours on end and take pride in the work I complete even though it is no Van Gogh. This week’s assignment may have taken a little longer than usually for me because once I start painting it is difficult for me to find the proper place to stop without wanting to add more and more. The toughest part for me was ensuring the background words were adequately covered and keeping the paint off the words of my poem. Unfortunately, some paint seeped onto parts of my poem which I think lessens the effect and neatness of the work. However, overall I am pleased with the outcome and had an extremely enjoyable time putting my time and effort into the assignment this week. This Sunday Sketch allowed me to think creatively, utilize a medium that we have not had the chance to work with yet, and have fun in doing so.

Maybe stick to chocolate next time

When I first started with my quadriptych, I did not know what kind of storyline it was going to turn into. I started with drawing my cartoon man and began wondering what antics he could possibly get into with just four panels. After much deliberation, I recognized the fact that boys are dumb and should often face consequences because of that. Thus, the story of a forgotten anniversary turned hospital trip was formed. This was much different than creating my triptych because I felt as if I was creating my own story rather than just turning an image into a punchline. This type of comic allows room for extra detail because of the fourth panel and that turns the story into more of a process. I enjoyed having the extra panel because I was able to take a closer look into the story and create a more detailed explanation of the plot. This week’s Sunday Sketch assignment, gave me the opportunity to tell a story of mistakes and unfortunate consequences that may follow. The man should’ve remembered his anniversary, but his unpreparedness led him to spending this special day in the bed of a hospital. He really should have just stuck with chocolate.

I’ve got it in the Bag!

It all starts off with my adorable, efficient, and very reasonably priced pink book bag that I acquired from late night shopping on Instagram sale ads. The next most important feature is my handy MacBook, which I subtly coerced as a gift from my grandma and could definitely not live without here in college. Along with this, my book bag holds all the necessary requirements for my course load this semester. Things such as, my PACE workbook, the It’s Your Health booklet (a $25 scam more like it), and my trusty planisphere for all my astronomical desires. My bright yellow notebook and my very efficient accordion folder, that keeps my resume on deck for any opportunity, are also utilized for every single one of my classes. My bag contains my calculator, writing utensils, and colored pencils for any emergency or creative outburst that may arise. We also have my AirPods decorated with stickers to demonstrate the love and importance that they hold in my heart because I do not go anywhere without them, along with my Emory ID and wallet which is an essential item to have at all times on this campus. Finally, I carry in my bag the best present I have ever in my life received which is my reusable straw (we have to save the turtles people!).

I believe this image does a fairly good job at representing who I am. It shows the dedication I have to my education, the planet, and all the good deals on Instagram. All things which are obviously equally important. Crafting this self-portrait was not too difficult a task for me to complete. I did not remove or add anything from this image because I believe all these objects hold value and portray my day to day life in the most accurate way possible. I appreciate symmetry and did my best to arrange my self-portrait here in a way that was organized and pleasing to me. This kind of self-evaluation is definitely a type of writing in itself. These items represent who I am, what I believe, and what I value just like my writing does. I did not find this assignment challenging because like my writing, the most important aspect was the truth and the authenticity of me as a writer or creator in this world.

Let’s hope it’s not hereditary

While trying to create my triptych comic I went through dozens of A Softer World webcomics for inspiration. I saw that the majority of the comics were often just normal images with unexpected jokes in the last panel. With that, I continued to search on Flickr for any images that I believe could tell a story or that could relate to a darker and humorous punchline. When I saw this image of the elderly citizens casually sipping coffee and chatting, it reminded me of my late grandfather who always had quite a dark sense of humor. He lived with me for almost a year before his passing because of the severe dementia he suffered from, but he always managed to brighten up our days with inappropriate jokes and antics. I made this comic with him in mind because it is the same kind of inappropriate statement that he would have said to someone if it hadn’t been him in the other chair.

Creating the composition of the comic was not too hard to do. I simply split the entire image into three separate panels and added gutter spaces in-between before adding the text. The most challenging part of the assignment was trying to come up with the joke itself. I wanted it to be a little dark, but still funny. However, I’m honestly not sure if I quite accomplished that. It’s funny to me, but that may be because dementia actually does run in my family and this situation is very ironic in the scheme of my life. This type of comic is very different from the others we’ve done in class. I felt as if I wasn’t necessarily creating my own story, but merely replacing one that the image provided to me. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to change the storyline of the picture into a more humorous situation and crafting this strip was pretty fun for me. Both the image I used and the assignment prompt that formed this comic strip can be found here.