The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing

Three Useless Thespians

Making a triptych was a fun yet challenging project. I knew that for this one, I didn’t want to draw one out but use some old photos I have on my phone. I ended up using three photos from closing night of a play that I directed. Me and my friend Saanya directed a play and Parker was one of the actors in the show. On our own we can do our assigned tasks but get us all together and we won’t get anything done with all of our laughter. I liked creating the first two panels with only slight differences in facial expressions to the last panel that is a close up on my face. I have a “oh well, it is what it is” look. I feel that creating this kind of comic strip is easier because with three panels you have a defined beginning, middle, and end where as, with writing you can go on longer tangents without having discernible markers.

Behind the Fancy Limo

When looking through the examples of triptych’s, I noticed that my favorite ones were the ones with surprise endings and dramatic shifts in meaning from panel to panel. In my first panel, we see a well-dressed family standing next to a limo. In the second panel, the family is in the background and a new man appears next to the limo. We begin to realize that the limo is not for the family. It is not until the final panel, however, that we realize that the well-dressed family is actually homeless and the clothes that they are wearing have come from a cardboard box that they are living out of.

This comic symbolizes how people’s lives may not be as beautiful as they seem at a first glance. After viewing only the first panel, the reader assumes that this is a high-class family. It is not until the later panels that the reader is able to let go of these assumptions and discover the truth of the family.

This Sunday sketch was more difficult than the previous ones were because it required crafting an entire story out of art. The other assignments challenged us to create an interesting visual, whereas this one challenged us to utilize creative visuals in order to construct a narrative. While this took more time to plan and create than previous assignments did, I believe that my final product for this assignment is of higher quality because I enjoyed the structure and very clearly understood what I was expected to do.


When I first started working on this assignment I spent a good amount of time scrolling through A Softer World. I started to notice that most of the triptychs they created had a saying acompanied by some relevant photo cut into three parts. I decided to create a similar triptych focused on deception. I found the saying by Maryum Ahsam shown above and wanted to add an additional layer of deception. To do this I used a picture of a mound of cocaine and a line leading to a rolled up piece of paper. This picture was perfect because the mound pictured in the first two thirds could be either salt or sugar. It isn’t until the last third that it becomes apparent that it is infact cocaine.


Sunday Sketch #5

One of the biggest choices I made while creating this comic was to not use dialogue. I chose to do this because as I was brainstorming I found it vey hard to tell such a short story and use dialogue. I began to think about the saying, “A picture speaks 1000 words”. This made me start thinking about how I could tell a story with just images. I knew I wanted to use a sign for the first panel because it was an easy way to communicate what setting the scene is taking place. Once I knew I was using a speed limit sign the rest of my idea followed.

This Sunday Sketch was a little different from anything we’ve done so far because in the past we’ve just created a single picture. Now, however, we have to combine 3 different pictures to create a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Personally, I prefer this because it forced me to think about both what I was drawing and how it would fit into something bigger, in this case the comic.

The Longest Distance

The Longest Distance vF.

The impact of smartphones and social media on interpersonal relationships has been a very popular topic in recent years. While some argue that technology facilitates communication over long distances, others point out that more and more people, especially those of our generation that have grown up with smartphones, are obsessed with social media and become unable to deal with face-to-face communications. Technology may hinder normal communications and create “the longest distance” between people.

The most difficult part is again the drawing process as I decided to push myself to practice drawing. No suitable pictures online made this process harder since I could not imitate others’ drawings. In addition to my iPad and Apple Pencil, I employed Photoshop and Powerpoint to edit my drawings and put them into panels. Overall, the creating process was fun if not that I had less time to spare for this assignment due to other midterms.


Assignment Link:

Sweet Goodbyes (Sunday Sketch #5)

Sweet Goodbyes

At first I put way too much thought into this project. I wanted to make something truly artistic and deep and profound. Then I realized I was spending too much time thinking about it so I forced myself to start drawing and make it up from there. Here is my first, and quite frankly frightening, idea:

my first attempt…

For some reason this comic cracked me up. I couldn’t stop laughing. But for another, somehow unclear, reason I didn’t feel it was the right comic for this assignment. So then I settled for the strawberry idea. The main struggle I had was coming up with a quick three beat narrative that told a story. I think this is why I went first to a basic three line joke, and then later allowed the last beat of the comic to not include any words and stand alone as “just” an image. This assignment made me think rhythmically with my storytelling, which was a new experience for my written work. I am constantly thinking about rhythm when it comes to editing film, but usually that can stand separate from the story itself. Here, I was pleasantly challenged to merge the two to craft this stupid joke.


Can’t Escape the Paparazzi

For this assignment I wanted to create a fluid panel, so I started by searching my camera role for a series of concurrent photos. Once I found a series of photos that I thought would be humorous, I edited them together, only repeating the segment I wanted the audience to focus in on. When it came to adding text, I knew what I wanted the last frame’s caption to be, so I worked backwards to then fill in the first two. I found it difficult to decide what information should be written out and what could be left for the audience to gather from the actual images because I didn’t want to be redundant. The style of my Triptych is very much reminiscent of a meme, probably because most of the captioned images like this that I’ve seen have been memes so emulating a meme came naturally. I intentionally chose the “impact” font, which is popular in many memes, thus keeping with the theme. This assignment was unique in that it felt more like creating a comic than any of the other assignments because the three panels created a storyline. The short length of the comic was helpful because it demonstrated a simplified version of creating a comic, since we just focused on one short scene.

Click here to read the assignment prompt.

Don’t Stop Retrieven

When I was crafting my comic I wanted to do something that was visually humorous, but also a philosophy that everyone should follow. Therefore, I chose the image of a dog chasing after a ball and another 3D image of a dog looking away to show someone being afraid or ignoring an opportunity that was presented to them. The challenge I faced in this assignment was trying to find a topic to base my comic off of. This is different from other writings that I’ve done because this time was forced to make one image tell a story in 3 scenes.

Sunday Sketch Assignment:

Go To Mommy

This Sunday Sketch was different from the rest because I felt like it was the closest thing we have done to writing a comic. The past assignments have all incorporated drawing and visual aspects, however, I feel like doing this mini comic strip assignment is helping to prepare us for turning our literacy narratives into comics. I had a lot of fun with this Sunday Sketch, as the idea came to me pretty quickly. After reading the sketch description I knew I wanted to make it comedic but still have some sort of message. The idea for this, is a spin on when a child walks for the first time, often from one parent to another. However, in this example the child is dodging dangerous situations while trying to complete this task. He first wanders into the road and avoids getting hit by a car, and then barely misses a soccer ball to the head as it soars right above him. While all of this is happening, he is completely oblivious. In this sketch, wanted to address the bliss and care free attitude of a young child. They have nothing to worry about and no real world fears as they are growing up. They just live their life, and although its not practical to have this mentality forever, it is nice not to worry. The older you get the more and more worries and concerns you have. Many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from or where they are going to live. It really makes you want to go back to the times where ignorance was bliss and the world was literally your playground.

When you’re going to outlive the Earth…

This is Amir! A 1 year old I babysat my last semester of high school.

This was by far the most challenging Sunday Sketch this semester. I knew I wanted to go in a comedic direction with this assignment. I saw the strip from “Nancy” heading the Sunday Sketch assignment page and immediately thought creating a funny triptych would be the most natural direction for me to go. I read comics like “Nancy” with my dad all the time growing up. Sunday paper comics are nostalgic to me, so I thought writing a triptych with those type of comics as inspiration would be easy. I was wrong. It’s been longer since I’ve sat with my dad after church to read the funnies than it has since I’ve spent hours scrolling through “relatable” Twitter pictures. That being said, while creating this comic, I felt strongly compelled to craft it like a meme. The impulse to create a meme and not a comic led to my decision to use from life photographs – reaction pictures.

The narrative I chose was inspired by an ongoing joke I have with my cousin. It’s a little pessimistic, but it’s real. The joke’s got some attitude; it’s politically charged, but it’s something that should be talked about like it’s a reality and not a ambiguous forecast.