Reflection: Literacy Narrative Part 2

In essence, the comics version is not much different from the alphabetic version of my literacy narrative. The prompt for the alphabetic essay was to “analyze the key experiences that shaped the way you read and write”, which led to my analytical approach to writing an argumentative essay. Knowing that this comic would be based on the essay, I slightly changed the structure of my literacy narrative after the individual conference and made essay flow in a chronological order – how I read and then wrote in my childhood and how I read and then write as I grow up. This eventually became the overall structure of my four-page comic, and the passage of time works well for natural transitions. My analysis from the essay became a narrative voice keeping the development of my stories. Specific evidence such as personal anecdotes then became the visuals in the comic, supporting the narrative voice like it did in the essay.

However, the change in the medium did shift my focus when telling the stories because more visual thinking was involved:

First of all, now that evidence became visuals, I had to put greater emphasis on the details of the evidence, or I would have nothing to draw but plain sentences. On the first page, I had to think of the actual images on the books which reflected that “visuals and imagination are powerful tools for language learning, especially for Chinese.” And on the second page, I could not merely state that “I would first think of a scene as detailed as possible and turned it into words,” but came up with the actual scenes and words I would write down. Same for page four, I almost re-read Republic to find a suitable dialogue for this comic. It was a hard but meaningful process to consider how all elements could be represented visually.

After that, the decisions of whether individual elements should be demonstrated by the visuals or just stated as words in the boxes were even harder due to my limited artistic skills. For instance, the main scenes of the first page should be my mother teaching me how to read in Chinese in bed before sleep in my early years. Ideally, the passage of time could be implied by the changes in my appearance and size in different panels, but this would cost me a very long time to draw if I am actually able to do so. The main technique I employed on the first page was the choice of frame, making it hard for the same book to bore the audience. And the interactions between my mother and I were represented through words in the bubbles.

Last but not least, I found a lot of fun when thinking about the overall page designs after I had some ideas for the visuals. I utilized the “all-at-onceness” on page three by dividing a book into three panels, demonstrating the immersive experience when I read. The panel designs also have plenty of room for creativity. On page two, I broke the boundaries and directly used bubbles to replace normal panels, a piece of advice from the peer editing session, since the content is about imagination. I imitated the first comics I read in this class, “Adventures in Depression”, on page four to show myself and my thoughts at the same time in each panel. I did a small change by using a dashed line to show how I effectively broke the wall between reality and imagination through immersive reading.

One of the most meaningful things from this class so far is the “go-for-it” mentality towards drawing or other visual arts. Every time I posted an Instagram story after completing a page, I would receive messages doubting if I truly had not drawn anything after middle school. I am very glad that I pushed myself to draw something seriously for the “visual note taking” sketch, and the momentum has not declined. This mentality also helped me searching for other solutions when my ideas really exceed my limits. Photoshop and PowerPoint saved me a lot of troubles and time when I could not realize my ideas by my Apple Pencil.

So far, this assignment is the most time-consuming project this semester, but I really enjoy the process and would enjoy it more if I were to have more time available.

Learning Language REFLECTION

Writing my literacy narrative as a comic made me value the comic form more. I discovered adding illustrations to text imbues a text with much new meaning. The problem became attempting to control what I say with my illustrations. I found myself bargaining with my narrative at length about what medium – pictures, framing, text, etc. – could best convey information from my alphabetic narrative. With so many variables at play, my comic narrative has more depth and information than my alphabetic essay. One macro-level issue I encountered while creating my comic doubting that I was artistically capable enough to accurately communicate my meaning. I still am unsure about this, but I tried to draw/frame my comic to play toward my style of drawing and not craft a story that looks like it was meant to be draw by someone else. One aspect I fear not being communicated through my illustrations is the color. Color is an important element of my story; certain contrast needed to be highlighted. However, as I went to scan my pages, I noticed the highest available resolution grayed-out many of my browns (brown being one of the most important color symbols in the story). I tried two other resolutions and finally had to recolor by hand certain trouble areas. The product still displays a few characters’ skin as grayer than intended, but I think I don’t know what medium would be best suited to achieve that color vibrancy I initially wanted. I considered computer illustrations once I saw how skewed the coloring was when translated from color pencils/white paper to the computer screen, but by that time it was far too late to start from scratch. Besides, I’ve neve illustrated on a computer before – like ever (not even casually) – so I probably wouldn’t know where to start, not to mention the risk of the drawing turning out subpar due to my lack of experience in that medium.

Overall this process was quite enjoyable. The silver lining of it being so time consuming was I got to justify spending hours upon hours just doodling and coloring which was relaxing. Since, I don’t draw often and this project was heavy illustrations, I feel like I honed my specific style of doodling. My characters have a look to them that’s completely unique to me, and I love it. I love the way my characters look, I love what I discovered about how to make them look even better during this process, and I love how distinctly me it all is. My style isn’t technical or particularly realistic, but it somehow just works. Honestly, this project brought me confidence in my artistic skills – something I never considered myself remotely talented in at all.

Literacy Narrative Reflection Post: Sawyer Steinmiller

It was a lot more difficult creating my literacy narrative as a comic. I have written so many alphabetic essays in the past, so using the medium of a comic was a different process. My story was a lot different in comic form than in alphabetic text. For my literacy narrative part one, the story had little to no emotion in it- there really wasn’t that much plot to me editing the story, but in comic form, I added lots of comedy. This made the story a lot more down to earth. Before, I saw this as a serious turning point in my writing career. After adding comedy to the story, it seemed more relaxing and lighthearted. Honestly, my analytical process was the exact same, but when revising my alphabetic text, I think I am going to try my best to add comedy in it as well. It works very well for my comic so I might as well try my best to mimic that.

I made a lot of difficult choices when curating my comic. I chose to add comedy, which was not in my alphabetic text. I did this because I knew my artwork or the plot itself were not the most intricate, and I knew I needed something to stand out. Comedy comes pretty naturally to me when I have time to plan out the humor. I really tried to focus on the facial reactions of the characters; putting real emotion into my characters faces is something that could have made the story even more funny. If I had more time, resources or even a professional illustrator, I would have them work on my facial reactions. There were not many aspects of my comic where I had a clear sense of what I was trying to accomplish and I think that I failed at that. I think the only instance where I could have made a change was in the third page where I tried to draw me in my room shrieking nonsense, while my mom listens in confusion through the door. If I were to have more time and skills, I would have made the shot from above so you have a clear view of me and my mom, making both of us the focus instead of just my mom.

I think that this project really helped me with my writing process. Writing this project as a comic has helped me realize what I can change about my alphabetic text in order to make it better. Adding comedy to my essay would do exactly what I am telling the reader to do in my comic- it would give it my voice!

Reflection Post: Literacy Narrative Comic

My comic is an autobiography that highlights the major changes in my life that influenced and defined my reading and writing habits. In this comic, I wanted to clearly convey how my experiences with reading and writing drastically changed as a result of the change of environments within my life. To do so, I adopted more of a traditional narrative style where the narrator, which is myself, tells the story with the aid of the images in the panels. Due to this, one may notice that there is very little dialogue between the characters depicted in the comic but rather the story is carried along by the text either found below or above the images—the voice of the narrator. 

As mentioned previously, in this comic I attempted to highlight the change in my attitude and outlook on reading and writing due to various experiences within my life. I believe that this emphasis was much more present in my visual comic than in my original alphabetic text. Once the visual aspect was added, it allowed for easier story-telling and the role of envisioning now fell on myself as the illustrator rather than the reader. As the illustrator, I was now suddenly forced to think about what I want the reader to see and then place that on the page as a drawing to the best of my ability. Not only that, but my thinking process was different as well as I started to invest more thought into what I specifically wanted to say and show rather than the general story that I originally gave in my alphabetic text. The transformation of my literacy narrative from plain alphabetic text to a comic filled with images as well as text gave rise to an extra layer of depth and content which ultimately bettered the story in my opinion. 

Creating this literacy narrative comic allowed for the use of various modes of composing text, namely written, visual, and digital. Because of this, I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone to be able to utilize these differing techniques in writing. Additionally, various techniques and ideas seen in comics which we have read this semester have been used in my comic. For example, the varying perspectives seen in my comic was inspired by panels seen in Stitches and Spinning. This comic also had several different versions which took multiple drafts and rereading to finish showing its process of creation, and critique received from others was also taken into consideration. Lastly, as shown throughout my comic, visual thinking strategies were used as I created each panel. I constantly questioned whether the images and text in each panel properly served its purpose and flowed into the next panel. 

The creation of my Literacy Narrative Comic came around in a rather difficult manner. This is mainly because of the time I spent on the visual aspect of the comic. After drawing each panel out to the point where I wanted it, I went back to detail and shade each image to give it more of an effect when the reader views it. Still, my ideal vision for my comic could not be realized due to time constraints as well as a lack of skill on my part. If I was given more time and a professional illustrator, I would have liked to make the visuals less cartoon-like in order to correspond with the slow and semi-serious tone I was trying to accomplish with the narration. Additionally, I would have included a couple more pages to get even more detailed into how exactly my reading and writing habits changed due to moving.

Literacy Narrative Comic Reflection

Now that you’ve completed your Literacy Narrative Comic, publish a reflective blog post of about 500 words about the writing process, paying special attention to how the work you have done has helped you to meet the Learning Outcomes for this class. That post should link to the page with your literacy comic.

Some other questions you might respond to: How was it different to write your literacy narrative as a comic? How did you think differently once the visual component was added? How did that help you to see the story you were trying to tell in different terms? Was your analytical thinking process any different? How have your thoughts about your alphabetic literacy narrative changed in the process of transforming it into a comic?

I’d also like you to discuss choices you made in creating your comic and to explain why you chose the way you did. Especially if there’s something you were really trying to do in your comic which you felt you couldn’t realize as perfectly as you would if you had a lot more time, more resources, or if you could have hired an illustrator to turn your vision into exactly what you wanted. If there are aspects of your comic where you have a clear sense of what you were trying to accomplish and how you would have done so if some things were different, then explain that in your reflection. Doing so allows you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge you need about this sort of writing even if you have not yet developed all the skills necessary to make that knowledge visible in the final artifact you’ve produced

A Reflection About A Poem About Poetry

I really enjoyed creating this comic because it allowed me to illustrate a story very personal to the way I write today. By depicting the overall concept of my Literacy Narrative 1, I was able to look at it from another perspective that to me was more engaging. In my Literacy Narrative 2, A Poem About Poetry, I look at my journey from not writing anything and disliking my English assignments to sharing my poetry on public platforms. The feedback that I got on our rough draft day was very positive and helpful in creating my final draft. My peers suggested that I really bring the imagery to life as well as find a way to enhance the flow of the comic.

On page 2 I have the phrase “beautiful poetry” going into the characters ear from outside the panel. This panel signified how I would watch poetry but never to write it. I decided to bridge the panels together by creating a loop. On page 3, in the last panel I’m the one creating the “beautiful poetry” that will hopefully be going to people’s ears.

Literacy Narrative Reflection

This week I submitted my final Literacy Narrative comic. Last week, during peer review, I received comments telling me to focus more on the dichotomy between Math and English. As a result, I changed my final page to include an award in English, revealing how I overcame my struggles in English class. I also received feedback telling me to utilize the frames to depict sudden changes in mood and tone. As a result I included panels that were zoomed in on characters faces.

Tracing Pages Reflection

A preview of my essay’s argument:

“Comics allow an author to control the visual information drawn by the cartoonist to better convey characters’ motivations and focus, while panel layout and framing captures characters’ strained and startled feelings. By formulating their memoirs as a graphic novel, rather than an alphabetic text, Small and Walden successfully immerse the reader in the emotions and experiences of the protagonists, granting her a more authentic experience of the trauma in the narrative.”

The process of tracing a page from each of the books was a unique experience that allowed me to meditate on the visual techniques employed by the cartoonists before delving into annotating and analyzing the pages. During the annotation step, I found that rather than trying to come up with things to say, I was just writing down all the things I had noticed when I was tracing the pages. Thus the process of tracing pages helped my analysis come to me more naturally.

Since this was my first time writing an inductive essay, I struggled a lot with keeping track of the overall direction of my essay. Without an outline, I couldn’t tell when I was straying too far from my argument, which led to much more time spent editing later on in the writing process. The hardest step for me was combining my two topic sentences into a thesis, since in a typical essay I’ve written I begin with a general thesis and merely have to tweak it after solidifying my topic sentences.

This assignment gave me greater insight into the “secret language of comics” because it granted me the opportunity to conduct in depth analysis of the visual techniques and patterns cartoonists use to tell their narratives. Moreover, I got to consider the unique properties of comics that allow authors to most effectively capture their experience with trauma. I now have a more developed idea of how I might utilize the artistic resources of comics when I produce my own comic from my literacy narrative. An specific insight I gained into Stitches was that while I had previously known there were images in the background from another part of the story, I had no idea it was an entire trace of another page.

Click here to see my essay

Click here to see the assignment prompt

Reflecting on Tracing Pages

The thesis of my essay is that David Small and Tillie Walden give gendered narratives of trauma in their respective books. The process of tracing (Stitches and Spinning) helped with the brainstorming process more than I anticipated. I noticed light, organization and motifs more clearly than I had just reading the book. The process of writing an inductive essay was somewhat difficult because I kept feeling that my final point argument had already been discussed in my essay earlier or that my point of induction did not actually reveal any new information. To combat this, I tried to keep my paragraphs very segregated in topic and remind myself to check my essay for the desired ‘1+1=2’ style of argument instead of the deductive style to which I’m accustomed. I feel as though I have more of an analytical understanding of the details of each book after completing this assignment. However, I do not feel as though completing the assignment revealed some hidden truth about the books that wasn’t before readily accessible.

Sawyer Steinmiller: Tracing Pages Reflection Post

The thesis of my tracing pages assignment was
“On page 117 of Stitches and 265 of Spinning, the authors use the flow of the page and the framework of each panel to emphasize how the main characters have little to no control over their own lives.” In the assignment, I argue that the use of the three row structure of each of the pages creates a story that allows the author to convey a specific point in the text. I also argue that the use of framing in the texts, specifically a zoom out, creates a sense of irrelevance or disconnect through the characters.

The drawing and tracing parts of the assignment were relatively simple and fun. I had an easy time tracing the pages themselves because I have used tracing paper before. There were lots of complications with the copy machine because it wouldn’t send a PDF that was dark enough. My annotations were very easy and fun because I have spent lots of time annotating poetry, and this process was very similar. I have always loved annotating poetry and I love the same aspects in comics. It really helps me analyze the page and go deep; I am not the type of person to understand every layer of a page or panel just by looking at it. During the annotation process, I found similarities in the structure of the pages and the framing. I really enjoyed writing in a non five paragraph essay format. It made the process a lot more simple, and it was way easier to put my thoughts on the page. This assignment 100% helped me realize the secret language of comics. Both of my points had nothing to do with the writing, but how the pictures were laid out on the page and the content of the pictures. These were things that could never be found in a normal book, but only in comics. I learned that the significance of the words on a page is just as important as the rest of it. I think that in the future, I am going to spend less time looking at the pictures, and more time reading and understanding them.

Here is a link to the assignment prompt!

Here is a link to the assignment itself!