How I Traced the Pages

It was difficult to decide which pages to trace as I did not know what I should be looking for. Therefore, I marked three to four pages in each book that I found somehow unusual and interesting and read them carefully. I quickly decided the page for Spinning, in which a complete picture was intentionally divided into three panels, but I failed to find a similar one in Stitches. Albeit far from being able to articulate the special features in them, I eventually made my choices simply because of the special feelings I had when looking at these pages. As I would find out later, this selection process contributed to the development of my thesis that these two pages serve to let readers not read but feel the stories and also the title, “Read with Eyes, Feel with Heart“.

They are in fact observations at different times from different perspectives.

Despite previous careful examination, tracing definitely helped me figure out how both authors managed to confuse and overwhelm their readers and create feelings so that they could empathize with the protagonists through “choice of frame”. The comics’ “all-at-onceness” was in effect as well, as I tried to make visual connections between panels only to realize, after tracing them, that they were similar but depicted from different angles. As for the page from Spinning, before I traced it, I thought the three overlapping figures on the right of the page were observations at different times of a continuous movement, but from a fixed perspective. However, when I tried to imagine the movement in my head while tracing it, the sizes and distances of these figures did not match. Then I concluded that they were in fact observations at different times from different perspectives. The tracing process forced me to experience the uncomfortable feelings the authors designed for these pages and identify the reason behind at the end.

The inductive way of writing was hard at the beginning, like forcing a right-handed person to write with the left hand. I could not help but try to look for evidence to support my thesis. But what was my thesis? I had no idea at that time. With a vague idea about perspective in mind, I decided to analyze the two pages separately first. This approach turned out to be fruitful, as I soon identified the direction I should follow. Furthermore, the inductive way of writing shortened my time to write because I did not first commit to one thesis and then struggle to find evidence. And with all the evidence ready, there would be more room to develop interesting arguments.

StitchesThe biggest takeaway from this assignment is how versatile the comics is to influence readers. As Chute states in her book, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere, “the comics gestures conspicuously to the reader’s active and involved reading”. Authors can use words, visuals, panels, and so forth to put their readers in the protagonists’ shoes. These elements work altogether to affect the readers, often unconsciously, through the special feelings they create. With the dizziness in mind, it becomes understandable that David runs away from school, break laws, and waste electricity just to annoy his parents. Tillie does not appear demanding when she is angry with her mother’s indifference after I have experienced the tough test with her. Appealing to emotion is more powerful than mere repetition to make the readers understand and accept the authors’ messages.


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