Hey there comic geeks! Well, I finally did it. I made my own comic… sort of. As I mentioned in my bio, I am a Teaching Associate at my university and teach FYC (first year composition). As such, I created my very own comic this last month to teach my future students how to read a comic.
Here are some things I learned along the way:
“Through my writing/designing of a comic teaching tool, I have found that comic creation can give us insight to the importance of clarity and revising practices. The teaching tool I created is called “How To Read a Comic” and, as the title suggests, instructs my students on how to read a comic. I noticed that there was a need for this tool after I first used graphic novels in the classroom and had to instruct my students on the fly how to read a comic like a alphabetic book, what the different word bubbles and panels were, and how words and images were both necessary to create meaning. While I did use supplemental readings from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, I knew I needed to make things simpler for my students. To discuss how to read a comic, I knew I needed to create a comic that illustrated everything they would need to know about the medium through words and images. For this project, I downloaded an application called ComicLife and got to work.
I was instantly confronted with the necessity of brevity once I started my script writing. Script writing for comics includes description of the panel layout while also writing out the word bubbles, similar to the process of writing a play. I only had so much space to work with in the panels and knew that the images were just as relevant as the words, so I need to be clear and concise with my writing. If students have issues with filler words and phrases, or perhaps are just too wordy, the process of script writing could address that issue, especially if they had to further consider giving various images enough room to be displayed. After I wrote a draft of my script, I revised it. Then, as I took pictures of myself to act as my panels, I had to revise again because certain panel descriptions did not make sense when put into action.
This was primarily due to camera and space restrictions, which I did not take into consideration when scripting. This type of revision can prepare students to account for all perspectives and limitations when writing/designing their own works. Once I had finished taking the pictures I needed for my comic, I booted up ComicLife and got to work formatting everything. Here, I revised time and again, but it was not only limited to words. I revised pictures by cropping them, spatial arrangements of panels by moving them back and forth, aural tones by adding bold and italics when I felt something needed to be stressed like I would stress it in class, and even gestural revision as I swapped one gesture in a picture for another gesture in a similar picture. Here, I engaged with all the modes of communication and really felt I developed my multiliteracies. Naturally, students can experience the same. Even in a more general sense of continuously revising a work, revision practices are greatly stressed when creating a comic.”
This excerpt was pulled directly from my larger graduate project, so if anyone out there as thoughts to add or questions to ask, I am open to hear them. Until next time!
Bonus: Here are some “panels” I took, sans word bubbles.
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