Tracing Stitches and Spinning: Reflection

The most recent assignment in English class was to write an essay comparing the two graphic novels we read, “Stiches,” by David Small, and “Spinning,” by Tillie Walden. We were asked to first select one page from each novel to trace so that we could better understand the stylistic elements that thee author included in that page. It was easy for me to decide which page from “Stitches” I would be tracing because I remembered feeling very drawn to that page during my first reading. I chose to trace the scene in which David’s mother brings him his book, “Lolita,” while he is alone in a hospital room awaiting potentially unsuccessful surgery. Since I chose this page, I knew I would be writing about the relationships that the protagonists had with their parents and whether or not the parents were abusive. I had a much more difficult time choosing a page from “Spinning.” I was torn between picking three different pages. In one, Tillie’s mom picks her up after a car crash occurs right in front of Tillie. Tillie chooses not to mention this to her mother. In another, Tillie finally builds up the courage to tell her mother that she does not want to ice skate anymore (she has done it for years) and her mother is indifferent. The scene that I chose is one in which Tillie’s mother learns that she is a lesbian and makes fun of her. The panels show only Tillie’s disheartened face and text boxes that show her mother’s words. This reveals how Tillie’s mother was taking over Tillie’s difficult moment. I did not understand this until I traced the page myself. I felt that this scene paralleled well with the scene from “Stitches.”

For most high school writing assignments, I wrote standard 5 paragraph essays with an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. For this assignment, however, my professor asked that we write in an “inductive” style. This means that we write 3 paragraphs: 1 about our thesis, 1 about an antithesis, and one in which we resolve the thesis and antithesis. I enjoyed writing in this new format because it felt more structured and I was able to connect my analyses rather than adding in unnecessary transition words or information about topics unrelated to my theses. I also felt that had a more formulated plan before I wrote – when I write 5 paragraph traditional essays I typically only plan out the ideas of the three paragraphs and don’t go so far as to plan out which details are important.

I learned a lot about these two books as well as comics in general through this process. Through carefully tracing the pages I was able to briefly enter the mind of the author and understand a deeper meaning. In fact, before this assignment, I was adamant that these books are not abuse emotional abuse and felt they unfairly judged the parents since they only provided one perspective. When tracing the pages, I was no longer reading another person’s story – I was inside the story. I imagined that this was happening to me and I had an epiphany that the protagonists really did undergo trauma as a result of their parents’ mistakes.

A Reflection Upon Tracing

To pick my pages I went through the methodical practice of randomly flipped through the books until I stumbled upon one that I remember intriguing me when I first read them. From the very first line of tracing I noticed how the panel boxes of Stitches were purposely not drawn perfectly. From then on I did slowly notice some new things about the specific panels. I think it was the slow process of tracing that allowed my mind to grappled with the design of the images better. One major realization for me was when I finished tracing and I looked at how different my Stitches tracing was from the original, and this was because my tracing did not have shadows. This annoyed me so much that I went back through my tracings and added shadows. For some reason the shadows of the scene added so much it felt like I would be misportraying the art if I didn’t include them, and this realization about the shadows ended up in part of my essay.

I found myself naturally thinking of the broad ways I was going to connect the two pages. I actually had an idea for a thesis but forced myself to ignore it and just start writing analytically about one of the pages. This was a hard process, but eventually I got it working. I had to do a lot of revisioning and cutting out because the only way for me to not think about writing to a conclusion was to just write as much analysis as I could. Even still the essay was still pretty long.

My biggest take away was from the analysis of how each author portrayed themselves as powerless. Their different styles influenced their respective scenes, but the way Walden presented hers in a minimalist style while Small presented his in an almost overdramtic lens really showed me how the same feeling can be captured by two different styles.

My Post

Tracing Spinning

Tracing Stitches

Back To Assignment Prompt

A Reflection Upon Tracing

To pick my pages I went through the methodical practice of randomly flipped through the books until I stumbled upon one that I remember intriguing me when I first read them. From the very first line of tracing I noticed how the panel boxes of Stitches were purposely not drawn perfectly. From then on I did slowly notice some new things about the specific panels. I think it was the slow process of tracing that allowed my mind to grappled with the design of the images better. One major realization for me was when I finished tracing and I looked at how different my Stitches tracing was from the original, and this was because my tracing did not have shadows. This annoyed me so much that I went back through my tracings and added shadows. For some reason the shadows of the scene added so much it felt like I would be misportraying the art if I didn’t include them, and this realization about the shadows ended up in part of my essay.

I found myself naturally thinking of the broad ways I was going to connect the two pages. I actually had an idea for a thesis but forced myself to ignore it and just start writing analytically about one of the pages. This was a hard process, but eventually I got it working. I had to do a lot of revisioning and cutting out because the only way for me to not think about writing to a conclusion was to just write as much analysis as I could. Even still the essay was still pretty long.

My biggest take away was from the analysis of how each author portrayed themselves as powerless. Their different styles influenced their respective scenes, but the way Walden presented hers in a minimalist style while Small presented his in an almost overdramtic lens really showed me how the same feeling can be captured by two different styles.

My Post

Tracing Spinning

Tracing Stitches

Back To Assignment Prompt

Tracing Stitches and Spinning Reflection

            My thesis for this assignment is: Both authors go through traumatic experience that mask their lives in veils of silence which prevents them from living their lives to the fullest but eventually, trusted adults allow the protagonists to overcome the trauma through being there for them. My argument focuses on David’s interaction with his therapist and Tillie’s singular interaction with her cello teacher about her assault. Tracing and annotating Spinning and Stitcheswas a very fun process for me. I had the opportunity to look closely at the pages that I was tracing, closer than I had looked before by just reading the pages. Annotating the graphic novels was also good for my understanding of the texts because my annotations were based on similarities and differences between the two novels, so it made see similarities between the two texts. I really enjoyed writing an inductive essay with my thesis at the end of the paper because I didn’t trap myself at the beginning with what I wanted to write but instead I let the analysis shape the thesis at the end. If I have the opportunity to write another inductive essay I would definitely choose to do so. Looking closely at the both of the texts, I now want to look at every panel in fine detail. It seems that every brush stroke or seemingly random stroke of color could have a huge significance in the novel. For example, in Stitches, towards the end of the novel, David has less shadows over him than when he is younger in the book showing that he is relieved of the burden of his family and childhood. If I hadn’t flipped through pages to choose for the assignment, I do not think I would have looked closely at this small but significant detail. 

You can find the link to my essay here

Reflection Post:Back to the Drawing Board

Whenever I am tasked with writing a paper I usually start by writing down my thesis statement and then provide evidence to support that claim; however, the inductive format of writing proved to be much more challenging than I thought. Instead of having some faint idea to base my whole essay off of, I was forced to just write and hope for the best. Although this style was new to me having the opportunity to sit down and analyze the though process what went into crafting these novels was eye opening. I felt that as I was tracing I was able to see why the author’s chose to stylistically implement some format of their writing over traditional prose. I felt as though tracing the pages of the novels helped me to see why Tillie Walden chose to manipulate her gutters in a way that created tension and why David Small chose to draw lighthearted situations with more curves and details than serious panels.

Assignment Prompt: https://eng181f19.davidmorgen.org/assignments/projects/tracing-pages/

Main Page: https://andresvelasquez905687008.wordpress.com/a-stitch-in-time-saves-lives/

The Fall Reflection

I started this project by trying to pick a page from each book that I thought would both be interesting to trace and meaningful. As I was skimming through the books I came across two scenes in which the respective characters where alone and having fun because of the lack of parental presence. I was curious to see if there was some connection or possible take away. As I annotate the the tracings the qualities of each page began to stand out. I finally noticed that though the two were telling quite similar stories on the page the way they did this and the feeling they conveyed was different. As I wrote my essay I noticed traces and indicators of their childhoods. As I concluded my essay I noticed that the abuse they experienced played an important role in how they reacted to the situations. Check out my essay here.

Tracing Reflection

The act of tracing a comic for this assignment was a really good brainstorming technique for me. Before tracing the panels, I had a theme in my head that I wanted to write about, however I didn’t have any specific details in mind that I could talk about. As I traced the different panels, it gave me time to think about what I was going to write about. By the time I had finished annotating, I felt confident that I could refer to certain details from the page to support the theme I wanted to talk about. Actually writing the essay was probably one of the easier tasks of this assignment. I had never written inductively before but I believe it was an easier process because I didn’t have to worry about an extra intro or conclusion paragraph. The one comic technique that I really took away from reading these comics was that position of the characters in the panel. Height differences matter, facial expressions matter, it’s as if you’re watching a movie and you have to look out for certain small details that give clues to how the characters interact. Overall, I feel as if my knowledge of graphic novels has expanded and I am better equipped with reading techniques the next time I read a graphic novel. 

https://nixstudent.wordpress.com/what-did-i-do-wrong/

Reflection of Tracing Stitches & Spinning

Prompt

Selecting and tracing my pages was actually much more challenging than I originally thought it would be. I found myself looking through both books multiple times trying to find pages which would suit the purpose of this assignment and were also genuinely interesting to me. During this process, I bookmarked a few pages on both books which were possible options and then went back to each one looking at ways that the pages could be compared. I was pretty satisfied with the page I selected for Stitches however the page of Spinning that I was gravitating towards seemed pretty bland at first glance leading me to almost disregard it. I didn’t disregard it though mainly because there were several comparisons between that page and my already-selected Stitches page that were building up in my head. While I was tracing my pages, I didn’t annotate at all because it felt easier for me to do one part at a time. Instead, ideas and comparisons between the two pages would pop into my mind while I traced both pages and I would write them down on a sticky note to include in my annotations later.

I initially had trouble beginning my essay just because I had no idea of where to start. After pondering for a while without getting anywhere, I simply just started writing and the essay began to form from there. In previous writing classes, there was usually a more clear cut structure that’s meant to somewhat guide you through your essay. With this format however, I had no idea of what my thesis was until I actually got to the point where I needed to write it down. At this point where I have already written two full paragraphs, it seemed like it would be extremely difficult to write a thesis that somehow related everything together yet it came much easier than I expected. Most likely, this is because after analyzing and comparing both pages, I somewhat already had a thesis in my head that I just needed to organize and straighten out.

Doing the tracing, annotations, and analysis, in a way put me in the place of the author in how each aspect of the page was deliberate and has meaning behind it. When I originally read Stitches and Spinning, I knew that to an extent, the authors of these books were using it as an outlet to express their feelings during this time and share their personal stories. After completing this assignment however, it became much clearer how these books strongly show their feelings not only in the past as a child, but even in the present as the adults that are creating these books hence the title of my essay, “The Past and The Present”.

Reflection on Tracing Pages Assignment

This essay was very fun to write about because it required a lot of different elements that needed to be pulled together for analysis. From finding the pages to tracing them, the entire process made me feel as though I was professionally critiquing David Small and Tillie Walden. Before this assignment I’ve never traced because I don’t have access to the materials so this project also allowed me to go out of my comfort zone and delve into something new and creative.

I aslo enjoyed the new writing style. I did take some time to introduce the panels and provide context but I felt that was essential in understanding the concept of my essay. It was also an interesting process of putting my essay together with the thesis as the last paragraph because I felt as though I was writing my entire paper backwards.

Overall, assignments like these, where we are tasked to look at and analyze comics have increased my interest in writing. There is so much to write about and its fascinating how much each panel can mean to the author and the reader.

TRACING PAGES REFLECTION POST

The process of tracing and annotating two pages (three in my case) was a rigorous process for me. The tracing Pages assignment was a very unorthodox for me; the traditional 5 structure thesis statement was not followed and that the whole writing process had to be revamped. I felt that the writing process for me was not to present a thesis statement and present evidence supporting that statement but to undergo a process of “discovering” your thesis statement. I definitely understood both books better after this assignment, but the tracing and annotating process was more time consuming for me. The thesis statement shows that the general story outlines portray the mothers as antagonists but both authors show rare moments of care and concern exhibited by both mothers for their children. The link to the assignment is given here.