The process of converting my alphabetic text to a comic and then revising my first draft with peer feedback increased my comfort with seeing writing as a process. Until I made my own comic, I never knew the many steps involved in putting together a narrative in comic form. Getting feedback on the first version of my comic was somewhat unsettling since I don’t know everyone in our class as well as I knew my pool of peer reviewers in high school, so I worried more about others’ judgment. Despite the discomfort, the peer reviews I received had perhaps the most influence on how I revised my comic. While I was initially unsure about the three by three, repetitive panels on my second page, the positive feedback I got made me confident in my decision to keep the same structure in my final draft. Moreover, reading through other students’ comics gave me lots of inspiration for how I could make my comic more visually interesting. In particular, Dean’s humor and use of abstract imagery completely broadened my idea of what could be in a comic. I emulated his abstract “road to adulthood” in one of my last illustrations where I depicted “measuring up to others” as a drawing of me standing next to an enlarge ruler. During the process of revising my comic is when I felt that my skills in visual thinking truly flourished because I let go of the confines of an alphabetic narrative that I was holding onto. By embracing comics’ ability to have panels arranged not just chronologically but also through space, I was able to access the full potential of telling a story in a comic form.
My initial impression was that by converting my alphabetic text to a comic, I lost a lot of the details. However, through the process of editing and arranging my comic in a more interesting way, I realized that the details were simply shown in different ways. Although I lost some of the descriptions of the setting and how I felt, I was able to capture the most important parts of the narrative through drawing. In fact, the process of adding in detail through imagery actually helped me cut out unnecessary elements because I realized that it wasn’t that important to give my reader some details like exactly what my Kindergarten classroom looked like. Rather, the details I incorporated focussed on my experience at that moment. On the bottom of my first page, I drew myself balancing on balls that represented the lower reading levels, in order to portray how unsteady my reading skills were as I reached for the advanced level Amelia Bedelia. Converting my narrative into a comic also allowed me to incorporate some humor into my comic, which I had attempted to do in my alphabetic text but struggled to achieve. Perhaps the more free-form medium made me more comfortable adding comedy, especially compared to a traditional alphabetic text in which I’ve been taught to always be serious.
My greatest challenge during this project was completing the illustrations because I had specific visions of what I wanted my drawing to look like, but I lacked the skill necessary to execute it. I ended up spending way too much time drawing and redrawing certain panels in order to make the characters look better. When drawing my final draft, the first page was the greatest challenge for me because I spent hours trying to get it right, only to eventually realize that the skill level of my drawing was not what would determine the success of my comic. If I were to do this project again, I might consider only using stick figures, in order to force myself to focus less on the individual drawings of people and more on the pages as a whole.
You can see my final comic here, and the first draft of my comic here.