Reflection: Literacy Narrative Part 2

In essence, the comics version is not much different from the alphabetic version of my literacy narrative. The prompt for the alphabetic essay was to “analyze the key experiences that shaped the way you read and write”, which led to my analytical approach to writing an argumentative essay. Knowing that this comic would be based on the essay, I slightly changed the structure of my literacy narrative after the individual conference and made essay flow in a chronological order – how I read and then wrote in my childhood and how I read and then write as I grow up. This eventually became the overall structure of my four-page comic, and the passage of time works well for natural transitions. My analysis from the essay became a narrative voice keeping the development of my stories. Specific evidence such as personal anecdotes then became the visuals in the comic, supporting the narrative voice like it did in the essay.

However, the change in the medium did shift my focus when telling the stories because more visual thinking was involved:

First of all, now that evidence became visuals, I had to put greater emphasis on the details of the evidence, or I would have nothing to draw but plain sentences. On the first page, I had to think of the actual images on the books which reflected that “visuals and imagination are powerful tools for language learning, especially for Chinese.” And on the second page, I could not merely state that “I would first think of a scene as detailed as possible and turned it into words,” but came up with the actual scenes and words I would write down. Same for page four, I almost re-read Republic to find a suitable dialogue for this comic. It was a hard but meaningful process to consider how all elements could be represented visually.

After that, the decisions of whether individual elements should be demonstrated by the visuals or just stated as words in the boxes were even harder due to my limited artistic skills. For instance, the main scenes of the first page should be my mother teaching me how to read in Chinese in bed before sleep in my early years. Ideally, the passage of time could be implied by the changes in my appearance and size in different panels, but this would cost me a very long time to draw if I am actually able to do so. The main technique I employed on the first page was the choice of frame, making it hard for the same book to bore the audience. And the interactions between my mother and I were represented through words in the bubbles.

Last but not least, I found a lot of fun when thinking about the overall page designs after I had some ideas for the visuals. I utilized the “all-at-onceness” on page three by dividing a book into three panels, demonstrating the immersive experience when I read. The panel designs also have plenty of room for creativity. On page two, I broke the boundaries and directly used bubbles to replace normal panels, a piece of advice from the peer editing session, since the content is about imagination. I imitated the first comics I read in this class, “Adventures in Depression”, on page four to show myself and my thoughts at the same time in each panel. I did a small change by using a dashed line to show how I effectively broke the wall between reality and imagination through immersive reading.

One of the most meaningful things from this class so far is the “go-for-it” mentality towards drawing or other visual arts. Every time I posted an Instagram story after completing a page, I would receive messages doubting if I truly had not drawn anything after middle school. I am very glad that I pushed myself to draw something seriously for the “visual note taking” sketch, and the momentum has not declined. This mentality also helped me searching for other solutions when my ideas really exceed my limits. Photoshop and PowerPoint saved me a lot of troubles and time when I could not realize my ideas by my Apple Pencil.

So far, this assignment is the most time-consuming project this semester, but I really enjoy the process and would enjoy it more if I were to have more time available.

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