The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing


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.

In class drawing: Philippe Chancel

One of the photographers included in the show “Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins” at the Barbican Art Gallery in London last year, about photographers who immersed themselves in “countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds” in order to “provide an authentic representation of the disenfranchised communities with whom they spent months, years or even decades with, often conspiring with them to construct their own identity through the camera lens,” is Philippe Chancel, a French photographer and photojournalist of some renown, who spent a lot of time in the 1980s building relationships with multiracial, antiracist rockabilly street gangs in Paris. Some of the photographs from that time were published in The Guardian to promote that show.

Pay attention to where your eye is drawn as you look at the image. Then spend ten minutes drawing/sketching this photograph.

Sketch 4: Combophoto

Due: 9/29

Tag: sk4

Stephen Mcmennamy is an Atlanta artist and Creative Director at the advertising firm BBDO. He first came to my attention when I saw his series of “combophotos” that splice together two different images to form a surreal new creation.

Here are a few examples from him:

cauliflower + poodle

paintbrush + spaghetti

bridge + guitar

Take a few moments to look through the images he’s posted on his site linked above or on his Tumblr or his Instagram. Then create your own square combophoto and publish it to your site. You can take your own photos, but probably you’ll want to use CC_licensed images you find on Flickr — make sure you give credit to the originals that you modify to create your combophoto.

The level of technical aptitude for this assignment is actually relatively small, just simple cropping and resizing. The greater part of the challenge is thinking creatively and finding images that you can work with. That said, note that Mcmennamy comes up with ideas and then specifically stages photos to combine, and he seems to often spend significant amounts of time shooting and selecting his images. You won’t have lots of time, models you can hire, or expensive photo equipment to work with, so I don’t necessarily expect your final images to be as polished and perfectly aligned as his are. More important is for you to be playful and come up with images that combine to create something funny or witty or striking.

To edit the two photos together, you can use whatever photo editing software you’d like. Pixlr is a good free web app, as is PicMonkey. Adobe Photoshop is also available for you to use on the computers in the Media Library on the 4th floor of the Woodruff Library.

Once you have your image, publish it in a post on your class site. Don’t forget to give it a funny or witty title! Tag your post “sk4

Write a paragraph about how you went about choosing the two images you combined and why. What challenges did you face as you created your combophoto? What do you think your final image conveys?

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?