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!



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/