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This is my English 181: The Secret Language of Comics class archive. Glad to have you here! Below is a reflection of my experience for the class. Feel free to browse through the menus to see my works! 

I have improved, as a reader and writer. Before taking this class, I felt that the patterns that I noticed during reading were not significant. While writing, I kept on getting bogged down by the 5 paragraph structure. Ironically, this letter is going to be said essay structure. Throughout this semester, I have experimented with my writing and ways to portray ideas. From writing essays to creating comics, and messing with photoshop, I have learned new ways to approach reading and writing. For this class, there are 5 learning outcomes that I have met because of the major assignments. But how? What assignments? 

The first learning objective is to compose texts in multiple genres while using multiple modes. Weekly sketch assignments allowed me to play with mediums of writing to make unique pieces. Out of the 10 sketches assigned, the Triptych and Recreate a movie scene let me break apart a broad idea and focus on the specifics. For the Triptych assignment, we had to create a comic with a specific beginning, middle, and end. This assignment is so broad, and it took me forever to figure out what comic I wanted to create. In the back of my brain, I kept thinking about the graphic novel the class was reading at the time. “Spinning” by Tillie Walden. My comic is a conversation between two people and consent. I wanted the comic to be simple, so I only included dialogue. Even though I wanted it to be minimalistic, it was hard to figure out what to include and what not to. I could’ve added more information about the situation through the dialogue, like who the people were, where they are, or what they were doing. I wanted the dialogue to be vague that readers could put their own interpretation in the context of the comic. As for the Recreate a Movie Scene, the general aspect of the assignment is explained by the name. Yes, we had to recreate a movie scene. I created the iconic scene from Kill Bill Vol 1 where the Bride is clad in her bright yellow suit with a Hanzo sword. Fortunately, I already had a bright yellow sweater and a cardboard sword. What about the other details? I had to decide whether or not they were crucial to the purpose of this scene. In both sketches, I had to put myself in the creators’ shoes and chose what to include or not. When it came to analyzing graphic novels, I had an easier time finding patterns in things because it was the author’s choice to include them in the panel, so it would be important to the board story. 

The second objective is to summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as you undertake scholarly inquiry to produce your arguments. For the Halfa Kucha major assignment, we had to present trauma and healing with a timed presentation. Because of the manner of the presentation, I had no control over the time, and I had to have minimal to no text on the slides themselves. It was just 200 seconds of me talking. Though it may seem simple, it was hard to condense my argument to fit it within the allotted time. There was no time for me to include unnecessary details; I had to could focus on my argument. I chose to relate two main characters from our assigned graphic novels and explain their trauma and recovery process. I broke down their stories into 3 parts: finding a safe space, remembrance, and reconnection to life. This argument was different from other types that I have had to write about because there was no right or wrong side. As long as I had sufficient evidence, I could make my case. It’s usually picking one side and show why it is right with a rebuttal for the other side. Even though there was a way to break down recovery, I spoke about how the recovery process is not chronological. 2 parts can occur at the same time, and it was reflected in the graphic novels. I used a predetermined guide and showed that it was applied differently in the novels. 

The 3rd objective is to practice writing as a process. Our literary narrative major project was broken into 3 parts. First, an alphabetical essay turned into a comic then to an essay again. Each step allowed me to reconsider the main idea and make sure the next version did not have unnecessary details. There were a lot of things that I cut from my first essay to my comic version.

I had the chance to write with a style for my college entrance essay.  

Link to Essay

I did not include my college entrance essay in my comic because the comic would still have the same purpose without it. The multiple revision helped me focus on conveying my story of writing and reading concisely. Each version got better too. 

The fourth objective is to demonstrate visual thinking and to interpret visual information. This relates to our tracing pages project. For this project, we had to choose two pages from different graphic novels. Before writing the essay, we had to trace the panels of the comic. While tracing the page, I noticed things that as a reader I did not before. I realized how perspectives change, and the facial expressions had more meaning to the story than before. The fact that the author included a detail meant that it was important to the frame. I had to look at the panel from different perspectives to find new patterns.  Also for this essay, we had to write our thesis statement in the last paragraph and have our body paragraphs first.

In “Stitches” and “Spinning,” the different uses of gutters and perspectives support each other to show the character development of the main character in the frame while they are in the presence of another character.

Link to Essay

If I were to have written in the usual 5 paragraph structure, my thesis statement would probably be very different. Because of this assignment, I realized that when I brainstorm or map out my essays I start with my evidence then make a claim. This way came more naturally to me rather than making a claim and then finding evidence. 

The last objective is about digital citizenship. In other words, using technology appropriately and engaging online. I think it is pretty obvious how I practiced fair digital citizenship. *cough, cough* Here is a literal website archive of all my assignments with credits. Even then, I have had to use other’s work to create new things, and I have had to use other’s ideas to create an argument. If it were not because of them, I would not have some of the posts on my website. So a Thank You is warranted. 

Out of all the assignments I have done, the tracing pages major project was, in particular, the most fun and the most rewarding. Before that assignment, I kept myself in the reader’s shoes when it came to analyzing a text. Because I was told to trace the pages, I put myself in the author’s shoes which helped me realize patterns and know they are significant because they were put there for a reason. Throughout the class, we were told that what is not visually shown in the comics is still important as what is. In one of the pages that I traced, there was a background drawn for 2 frames then for the rest of the pages, it has a white background. There could be multiple reasons why the author decided to omit the background in the following panels. I thought of it as the author wanted to make the reader focus on the other elements of the panels. Not only can I apply this way of thinking to comics. I can apply it to film and books. Every author or director is sharing a story, and they can frame it however they want. As viewers of these pieces of art, we have to take what we are given and imagine what is not. Using comics as a topic of the course allowed me to use my new perceptive skills in any form of art. Comics is in between books and film because it encomapsses both genres into one. 

Because of this class, I am able to confidently make inferences and pick out patterns of art. I was able to make my own comics, and I found that I really liked doing it. This class allowed be to be creative in my work while still achieving the essence of the prompt. Now, I can just look forward to finding the secrets of other works since I have comics under my belt. 


CREDITS

Cover photo here


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