The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing

A Sack-o-Stuff

Hey, look, it’s a bag of things! My bag of things, to be exact. And what exciting items do I carry on a daily basis?

A lovely spread of stuff, courtesy of Dean Criser
  1. Some headphones, in case there’s every an ambulation in need of a soundtrack
  2. Whatever literature which pertains to my current classes
  3. A powerful computer mostly used for word processing
  4. Some 5 Gum and Altoids, because one is for the long haul and the other for short study sessions, respectively
  5. A pen and highlighter I almost never use, because pencils are too convenient for my numerous mistakes
  6. And finally, two notebooks — for notes on books

Since I’d like to think of myself as a somewhat interesting individual, I pray that this bland assortment of sorts is not too representative of who I actually am. If textbooks weren’t so heavy, maybe I’d have the available back strength to carry around a few cool nick-nacks, but alas I can only muster the barest collection of academic necessities.

Despite this, the assignment as a whole was relatively easy, and I guess a little personality shines through in my headphones. I will admit, I was slightly saddened when I was forced to remove those beautiful Bose bass-masters for a mere few seconds when taking that photo; I was listening to a rather great song. I know they’re not necessary for classwork, but a few ounces are a small price to pay for salvation — and music.

Bag Book

  • Laptop – pretty much take this everywhere.
  • Textbooks/Notebooks – I carry these because I have to.
  • Eraser – this stays at the bottom of my bag permanently.
  • Calculator – yeah…just a calculator.
  • Pick/Comb – gotta stay strapped.
  • Roll-on – for those moments…
  • Pencils & Pens – essential.
  • Vaseline – lips must stay un-chapped.
  • Apple Earbuds/Charger – very essential to my everyday lifestyle.
  • Computer mouse – I think I annoy people in the library with my clicks.

I believe that this image represents me up to a certain extent. Of course, it’s almost impossible to be able to completely represent a person through their belongings however, they do give a glimpse into what an individual is like. I would say that this image represents me at a very surface level as there aren’t really any very definitive items that would hint at a certain passion or interest that I have. I consider most if not all of the items in this image quite common items that a lot of people carry around also. Creating this image was simple as well and I didn’t have any significant challenges as I did so. The most difficult part of the assignment (which wasn’t really that difficult) would be adding the little descriptions next to each of the items.

To me, anything written that allows the writer to be able to express themselves can be considered a form of writing, and a catalog of items that represents one’s self, even if the representation is not actually true, definitely fits this criteria.


The dude(me): a backpack. 

The study dude: a laptop(MacBook).

The genius dude: a calculator.

The “I’ve got your back” dude: a wallet.

The annoying dude: a health book.

The tutor dude: an economics book.

The dude with all the tools: a pencil case.

The hungry dude: a nimko bag.

Without my backpack slowly but surely I would’ve lost my way. My backpack is to me as chocolate is to vanilla. I wouldn’t survive in today’s world without my backpack, let alone the first few weeks of college. My backpack is just like me in a way it is equipped, as am I, to deal with everyday problems. The backpack is a composition of several personality traits (items) just like me: a composition of dudes. I didn’t find the assignment to be challenging; it was easy to see my bag as a representation of myself. Constructing the image was a simple process as well. I laid out all the items in a systematic manner. Representing yourself as an object would be a type of writing, but I think it would fall more into the category of personification of objects than a representation of oneself.

The link to the assignment is here.

Sketch 6: What’s in your bag?

Due: 10/13

Tag: sk6

Find a relatively large empty space. Take your backpack, messenger bag, or whatever sort of bag you carry around with you regularly, empty all the contents out, and arrange them carefully so that they represent a visual snapshot of the stuff you tote around with you on a normal day. Then take a clear photo showing your bag and the stuff and upload it to your site.

Note that like the avatar or the literacy narrative, this too is a type of autobiographical composition. If you have something in your bag that is private, embarrassing, or for some other reason you don’t want it in the picture then make the editorial decision not to include it. Or vice versa: if you would like to assume a certain kind of persona then you might consider including items in your catalog that might be less than fully true.

Add some text to your post listing the items represented in your photo, preferably adding in a bit of explanatory and/or funny commentary along the way. This can be a paragraph of text or a list or whatever format seems most appropriate for you. When these sorts of posts are done by publications, like say The Verge or Timbuk2, they are often not so subtle efforts at product placement but for our purposes there is no reason for you to engage in such advertising games.

Along with the photo and your description of the items, include a paragraph reflecting on what it was like to craft a self-portrait through this photograph. How actually representative is this image of you as a person? What sorts of choices did you make in order to create the image? What was challenging about this assignment? Is representing yourself in a catalog of the stuff in your bag a type of writing? Why or why not?