The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing

My Sunday Sketch Avatar :)

I’ve created my avatar by finding a bright and colorful skyline image on Flickr, adding a pretty sun in the corner, and drawing my very own stick figure superhero flying through the sky. I chose my background image because I felt very connected with the beautiful warm colors that the image used and the simplistic city view that was drawn. My favorite images have always been ones that contain suns, rainbows, and lots of color because it makes everything so much brighter and more light hearted. I think the picture demonstrates my warm personality and sunny disposition through all of the features in its design. In addition to creating an image full of very aesthetic colors, I chose to draw in a superhero to further connect my avatar with the class at hand.
Our class topic is The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing so I really wanted to include some aspect of that into my avatar. In my opinion, superheroes are one of the most common and obvious comic book features. I’ve read many graphic novels and comics throughout my childhood and adolescent life, and the few that contained superheroes were always so fascinating to me. Not only can superheroes have extraordinary abilities, but also warm and generous souls that lead them to protect humanity and make their worlds a better place everyday. Drawing my superhero was definitely the most difficult part of creating my avatar. It took several attempts and a lot of precision, but ultimately I was extremely pleased with the outcome. Also, a big part of who I am is my belief in the equality of all and power of women in this world. Clearly I’ve decided to make my superhero a female to demonstrate a sense of girl power in my avatar because although women may be outnumbered in superhero universes, I believe the few great superwomen we have outweigh all the rest of the men immensely.
Creating this avatar was such a fun activity and felt very useful in learning more about photo editing, drawing, and online photo resources. I like the avatar I made a lot and I think it really demonstrates the warmth and happiness of who I am as well as some of my beliefs and views on the world. After finishing this assignment I am even more excited to further my creative journey through this class and learning more about the different creative outlets I can express my ideas through.

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Sawyer Steinmiller’s Avatar Post

My avatar is a very flattering picture of one of my friends, Alyssa. I made her my avatar because she took 200 pictures of herself on my phone during lunch one day and I thought a beautiful photo of her would be a fair way of revenge. Surrounding Alyssa are various photos of my dogs! My dogs are in my avatar because I miss them dearly and they were an integral part of my life back in Washington DC. One of my dogs’ name is Dobby- he is the black one. Dobby is super friendly and smart, but extremely loud. He barks at the door whenever anyone makes a noise. Biggie is the bigger of the remaining two dirty blonde dogs. He is super shy to strangers, but is a great cuddle buddy to family. Welby is the third dog. We rescued her from hurricane Harvey, and she has suffered many hardships because of the storm. She is blind, deaf, cannot make noise and cannot go up steps. Therefore, she is stuck in one room all day unless we move her.

Making my avatar was not hard at all. Even though I have never edited a photo before, the instructions were super clear to me and I had my friends around me while I made it- this made the process extremely fun. In terms of content, I tried to make the subjects of my avatar as lighthearted as possible, hence why I chose friends and dogs as the theme. I wanted to make my avatar lighthearted because that is the theme that I am trying to relay through my comics and blog. I have previewed the novels that we will be reading in class, and they all seem to address the depression and sadness in the authors’ lives. I am a poet, and I am used to expressing my negative energy and ranting about my issues through poems, but I have never used any creative outlet to show what brings me joy in life. I want to use the medium of this blog and comics to show who and what makes me happy!

My Avatar

My avatar is a watercolor painting that I made with my name at the bottom. My painting is of a sunset over the water, because I feel that looking at a sunset is very calming. I chose this as my avatar because our English class focuses on comics, in which art is used to tell a story. I painted this while I was evacuated during Hurricane Irma last year. My family and I had stuffed our valuable items into the trunk of our car before driving to Alabama. I was glad that my family would be safe but I couldn’t help worrying what our city would look like when we got back. I was in a hotel room and since all of my assignments had been cancelled due to the hurricane, I decided to paint this. Even though this scene looks nothing like that of my hometown, this served as a reminder of the serenity of the past. Thus, while this may seem like any painting of a sunset, there may be more meaning to this painting than what meets the eye. Similarly, in comics, pictures drawn may appear to give clear and accurate depictions of situations. However, as we have learned, when comics are analyzed, deeper meanings can be uncovered and artistic and stylistic elements that shape the story can be uncovered. 

I feel that my avatar gives insight into who I am because it shows that I love creating art, and it  provides an abstract depiction of an event from my life. Additionally, due to the focus on comics within our class, my avatar connects to a topic from our class.

My Avatar

My Avatar Design

My avatar is a shot from one of my favorite films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (written by Charlie Kaufman), with a text overlay of the nickname “Gaz” as some refer to me as. For the record, you are welcome to call me Isaac OR Gaz. I will respond to either. “Gaz” is a shortened name my grandfather, other, and brother used in school from our last name “Gazmararian.”

The process of designing an avatar was surprisingly hard for me. I knew it would include something related to film, as that is a big passion of mine, but I struggled picking any specific film because I love so many of them. Initially, I worked on combining an image of the black hole from the film Interstellar with the image from the film City of God, as both films are two of my favorite movies, are from completely different genres, and relate to my other passion for space. However, I struggled with the layout of the images and how to best overlay/crossfade them, which eventually led me to simplify my design and settle on the image from Eternal Sunshine.

Interstellar (2014)
City of God (2002)

For those who don’t know, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film about a two people who decide to erase all memories of the other from their own minds after they break up. The film flows in and out of reality and memories as events bleed into each other and the protagonist (played by Jim Carrey) questions whether or not he wants to finish the memory-wiping procedure. While the story seems fantastical, the film hits on some ruthlessly real emotions. It deals with the breaking down of the idealization of a romantic partner, how people change in relationships, how all-consuming romantic relationships can be, and much much more. I love the film for its realistic portrayal of human emotions which can’t be cleanly categorized. There are only two films in my life that have helped me through romantic break-ups, the movie Her by Spike Jonze and Eternal Sunshine. Both films share a certain level of humility and vulnerability that I find lacking in other “romantic” films. The film also has beautiful cinematography, which smoothly moves the viewer through memories (sometimes in one shot!). That type of lucid cinematography is something I have learned from and attempt to apply it to my own short films. The film is also written by my favorite writer of all time, Charlie Kaufman (writer of Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Synecdoche, New York, Anamolisa, etc.), who consistently crafts wholly unique films with an odd sense of structure, pacing, and character which I cannot find nowhere else. Kaufman’s films almost feel like a character itself.

Suffice to say that this film has impacted me many ways, as a person, a cinematographer, and a writer. There are few out there like it. I initially chose to slant the text because I thought it would look cool, but now the more I think about it, I like how it almost feels like the name “Gaz” is laying down next to Clementine and Joel, as if I am part of the film.

Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders.” – Mary Svevo, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindFriedrich Nietzsche


My Avatar


My avatar is a combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette, resembling a searchlight that shines into the dark sky. Batman has been one of my favorite superheroes since my childhood. After I grew up, I found the philosophical meanings behind the stories very interesting. They pose serious questions on human nature and the concept of justice.

Despite the multi-universe setting of the Batman series, the character of Batman always has multiple facets – a crazy rich, blithe playboy during daylight, an invincible superhero ruthless to villains, but also a soft and melancholy soul due to his traumatic childhood. Like most kids, I was first fascinated by his physical prowess and his dedication to justice. Being one of the few superheroes that do not have inherent superhuman powers further excited my admiration. Back then, Batman was perfect in my mind. However, with the timeline of Batman’s life rolling out through various productions, such as comics, films, and video games, Batman became less a hero or an idol to me, but more a concrete human being. As my age grew, I started to understand and empathize with the conflicts inside him. These conflicts are the philosophical questions that people have been trying to answer for thousands of years – about family, society, justice, and the best approach to it.

The combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette reflects a philosophical thought I hold – the world is about balance. Gotham was founded to buttress more wealth and supposedly a better life, but too much wealth eventually led to corruptions and crimes. Excessive evil then contributed to the emergence of Batman (Bruce Wayne created the Batman persona and committed to justice after he witnessed the murder of his parents.) and his allies like James Gordon to balance out itself. On the other hand, the superior power of Batman was more than enough for mobs and corrupted police, resulting in the appearance of super-villains like the Joker and Mr. Bloom. These super-villains do not focus on material benefits but commit crimes because of their pessimism towards human nature, the antithesis of Batman’s belief in good humanity and justice. Batman and the Gotham City shaped each other and cannot be separated. As said by an ancient Chinese philosopher, harmony, or a more modern word, sustainability, is the balance point between good and evil. 

“Where there is darkness, light.”


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