The Secret Language of Comics

Tracing Pages Reflection

Creating trancing pages required much patience. Graphite tended to smear on pages and stain all other surfaces it had the misfortune of encountering. Despite the time-consuming tracing, the analysis itself was interesting to do. Ties between each page found in separate works were not an easy task, but how each element shaped that scene for the protagonist’s storyline was incredibly interesting to divulge in the analysis. The pages I decided to focus on were pages two hundred ninety-seven of “Stitches” by David Small and page seventy-six of “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel.

Page 79 of “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel
Page 297 of “Stitches” by Alison Bechdel

Literacy Narrative Pt.3 – Reflection

The literacy narrative project has been a very useful assignment for understanding how to story-tell through the use of multiple modes. I especially found it helpful that we utilized comics as a step in the revision process because it allows me to think of my writing in a way that I normally don’t, and it really helped me refine what my narrative was actually about. In the first two parts of the literacy narrative project, my conclusion seemed very sudden and kind of slapped on. I realize that I was trying to wrap up my essay in a pretty way that would leave the reader satisfied, but prioritizing that had the opposite effect, and made my conclusion seem very surface-level and glossed over. This project was a great example of how writing is a process and the importance of both revision and reflection on that process. Having to write reflections on each side part of the literacy narrative project has forced me to really think about the differences between each draft. This helped me to figure out the specifics of what I liked and wanted to keep in the next draft, and what I disliked and needed to change. Though this project didn’t boost my confidence regarding my artistic ability, it did help me to understand the different aspects and thought processes that go into creating a comic, especially regarding the balance of text and illustration and how they support each other on the page.

When turning my initial text narrative into a visual narrative it both condensed and spread out my ideas in ways I hadn’t thought of doing it before. I enjoy being able to experiment with the passing of time specifically when introducing setting in the comic format. Also, creating the comic helped me realize what was missing from the narrative, to begin with, as I felt like I didn’t have enough material to make the comic with the narrative as it was because my narrative felt incomplete. A major detail that I noticed in my original narrative draft after creating the comic was that my original narrative focused on the different portals in my life rather than why the portals were actually important in my life. Making this realization made the revision process much easier for me because I had a clear goal for what I wanted the story to emphasize.

Literacy Narrative Pt.3
Literacy Narrative Pt.3 “The Game” Revision

Literary Narrative Pt.2 – Comic Reflection

I found the creation of my comic very difficult compared to crafting the written narrative. I struggled to allow the images and words to work together to tell a story, and I often found myself narrating the panel with the caption which is something that I was trying to avoid. My goal was to create a comic where the images and words play a supporting role for one another to create a more cohesive story. I think I did this successfully at the beginning of the comic but as I got closer to the conclusion I found it harder and harder to balance. This may be because as I neared the end of the comic I found the topics being discussed harder to illustrate. I also am not a talented artist and I find putting my thoughts into words much easier than illustrating them. With writing, I can be really colorful and descriptive in a way that I can’t be with art simply because I lack artistic ability. Also, in this short comic format, I had to use much fewer words and they had to be more straightforward. 

The creation of the comic took much more planning and brainstorming than the creation of my essay. I started by deciding how I would divide the different parts of the essay across four pages, and then I sketched a few layouts and chose the one that allowed me to tell the story in the clearest way. Playing around with spacing and the distribution of captions throughout my comic was an interesting way to manipulate timing while telling my story. When I started constructing the comic, I really enjoyed making the beginning, especially the way I got to describe the setting without using words. I used a smaller scale method of the zooming-in method that David Small used at the beginning of Stitches to introduce Aptos, and I think it created a nice introduction to the comic. In the beginning, I also got to show small aspects of my life that I mentioned in the essay in a series of three panels.

Throughout the comic, I tried to play around with frame sizes and placements, and one of my favorite page layouts ended up being page two, specifically the panel with the tree and the four panels that are stacked along the side of it. I find the last two panels of page two, where my siblings and I are depicted swirling into a new world, really fun, and think they portray the light mood that I was trying to capture in this part of the comic. The ending, where I connected my story back to my history with English, seems slightly rushed, but I struggled to condense the narrative into just four pages. If I were to do this project again I would dedicate a few more panels to the ending so it doesn’t seem so sudden.

Literacy Narrative pt. 2
Literacy Narrative Pt.2 – “The Game” Comic

Reflection Letter

Luis Ciriaco

Professor Morgen


6 May 2022

The Joys of Writing I Learned In A Semester

What always intrigued me about writing was the idea of writing with a purpose. An interesting aspect of writing is how influential words come together to form a sentence that can provide a powerful message, providing underlying tone that is not explicitly stated but the audience detect it, or tell a story that could range from fiction or describing a certain point in time in the form of a story. Another key aspect of what makes the idea of writing unique are the many different forms of  writing that are applied to everyday scenarios. For example, one person can write an idea that can help project sales in a specific industry, or another person can write an informal piece to try to persuade the audience to side on an opinion. The many formalities and techniques on what brings writing alive reflect on the person who is writing whatever. What separates writing from many core subjects is the idea of learning something new as you progress as a writer. The idea of mastering writing is not that it is impossible, no, it is just that there is always something new that is being implemented to the craft. 

Before commencing my ENGRD 101 class, my ideas of writing were, in a sense, superficial, only grasping what made sense to me and what was accepted at a high school level. But, the more I participated in class discussion, the wide variety of graphic memoirs/comics read and interpreted, and the assignments I worked on opened me to a wide variety of ideas and concepts I never knew existed with writing. The class made me realize one crucial concept that will linger with me through college and beyond: The joys I learned in writing throughout the semester.

When  I commenced my writing endeavors, I was just barely understanding the basics of writing: whether it was constructing sentences or different types of essays, I couldn’t fully grasp the main construct on why I was writing. In other words, I felt as if I was just writing to write in order to fulfill a general education requirement. I even believed that my writing had no room for improvement and what was left of my comprehension was what was gained. As I started to progress more as a writer throughout high school, however,  I started to gain more insight on writing. Being able to construct five paragraph essays analyzing specific text was just the beginning of improving my writing capabilities. It wasn’t until I had enrolled in my first-year writing class (ENGRD 101) that helped solidify my writing capabilities as well as acknowledge a shift in my writing craft.

In my first-year writing, the learning objectives were to improve and develop your writing, critical thinking, and communication skills, as well as go in depth with rhetorics and utilizing the idea of images and words to express a certain aspect of writing. One assignment that embodied all of the criteria was the Halfa Kucha. The idea of a Halfa Kucha derives from Pecha Kucha, in which the spin is that my classmates and I perform a presentation that compares and contrasts two pieces of the text we read using 10 slides and each transition being 20 seconds. What was really intriguing about this assignment, at least in my perspective, was being able to generate ideas and topics to discuss all while trying to manage your time as efficiently as possible. Additionally, trying to think of other things to incorporate in your presentation, made me wonder the following: “Additionally, trying to think of nine central topics as well as the accompanying images took time and made me rethink many things such as ‘how could this topic shift to the next topic, and how are they related,’” (Reflection on Halfa Kucha). When reflecting on this aspect, I found it tedious as I wanted to cover different central ideas that support the prompt. Additionally, the transition from one slide to another had to be effective and smooth, allowing for the audience to grasp what you are saying. This part of the presentation put my creative abilities to the test. When it came time to present, being able to voice out your analysis clearly and showcasing your thoughts and concepts to your peers under a time constraint required practice and efficiency. This presentation showcased the idea of getting your ideas across in a concise and presentable manner, and it made me understand better the fundamentals of this course: being able to spark your creativity and improving your analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills. 

One of our prominent assignments was to write a literacy narrative on past experiences that shaped the way we interpret reading and writing. I decided to write about how a high school essay was able to evolve my sense of writing to what it was (key word “was”) today. I turned it in and received feedback: professor Morgen state that it was a well constructed narrative, but didn’t expound enough on the prompt as it was focusing more on the narrative rather than the reflection such as the ending point that was left off on the interest of writing in Hip-Hop/Rap. Receiving the feedback made me ponder on what was stated, and then it hit me: when writing, you have to be concise in your narrative and focus on the crucial aspects that will strengthen your narrative. I later worked on my second narrative, which was to expound more upon your fort narrative, and when writing I was able to express my purpose of writing more clearly. I was thinking about my audience and the prompt given and how these two concepts go hand and hand. Reflecting upon my first narrative and what could have been improved, I started to expound upon how Hip-Hop/Rap has indulged itself as a writing technique, as well as how my passion for writing grew: “writing has been a passionate hobby that has grown on me in a matter of years. Writing has allowed me to express myself through essays, emotions, and music,” (Luis Narrative II). Writing throughout my years has been an uphill going forward, with my craft slowly improving, and learning new material and tactics to better my writing.  

Another integral part of this class was the weekly Sunday Sketches we had to complete. These sketches range from different prompts but circulated around the same concept: creating your own piece. From recreating a movie scene, to creating a three panel comic, each Sunday Sketch provided an opportunity to open up your creative side and do what you want with your assignment all while following the guidelines provided. Additionally, a reflection detailing on how the process came to be for a certain Sunday Sketch was necessary. One of the assignments that stood out to me was using an everyday object of some sort to create a drawing. I was thinking of many things, and I noticed that my friend was using a right triangle tool and I thought of the idea of a race car … but in space ! I was able to draw it floating in outer space and reflecting upon the assignment it made me realize something: how your mind can perceive many things utilizing the shapes given around you. For example, the fact that I was able to see a race car through a right triangle tool used for architectural work is interesting. The fact I was able to visualize that helped me realize the creativity that was able to spark. It made me look at things at different angles, allowing me to interpret and analyze things through different lenses. Attached below is the image I drew: 

Throughout my first-year writing, I was able to experience the many virtues of writing. What I enjoyed about this course is how well I was able to express the class outcomes in each assignment that was given. Going back to my first narrative, there was room for improvement that could have been done. Going into the second narrative, I analyzed the feedback that was given to me and was able to sculpt a more in depth essay that answered the prompt. What I realized throughout the process of writing my second narrative was how much I improved from my first writing to my second: being able to explore how I came to enjoy writing, learning more about concession, and being able to express many ideas with an essay all came together in the construction of my second narrative. This narrative essay provided insight on how I was going to construct my analytical essay on two graphics that we read in class. Being able to implement techniques and other aspects of writings I learned in the beginning of the class allowed me to visualize how I will be able to implement them in future English classes. Furthermore, the creative and communication skills that were explored will allow me to present more future projects or assignments at a more concise and clear point. Being enrolled in this class made me realize how much I enjoyed reading and writing all over again. The idea of integrating comics to sharpen our skills all while making the class engaging helped pave the ebay of how I see things from different perspectives. What sets English apart from other core subjects is that there is always something that can be improved or learned, and that is how I started to understand the joy of learning.

Reflection on Halfa Kucha

When working on my Halfa Kucha, my first impression was that it was going to be tedious considering the fact that I was only going to be displaying images that correlate with the prompt and then explaining the images. As I commenced working on my presentation, however, it was not as complicated as I first envisioned. With each image, I was able to visualize what I wanted to say and try to get my point across.

Although there have been some points that were easy to do, there were some aspects of the presentation that was tedious. Well for starters, I finished a 20 minute presentation that I was going to present the day before my Halfa Kucha and the transition from one presentation to another was just too much. Additionally, trying to think of nine central topics as well as the accompanying images took time and made me rethink many things such as “how could this topic shift to the next topic, and how are they related.”

What I really enjoyed about creating and presenting the presentation was how well organized it made things be. Having the time constraint of explaining a slide in twenty seconds prooved to be an easy or chalnging task because there will be times in where I would be able to meet the time or be a few seconds short. The presentation helped me utilize my creative skills, as well as my communication skills to present as confident as possible. Overall, I really enjoyed this Halfa Kucha project a lot.

Down below will be the link attached to my Halfa Kucha presentation !

ENGRD 101 Presentation.pptx

Literacy Narrative 3 Reflection

The project truly made me not just better in writing, but also in drawing, analyzing, and looking at materials differently. While definitely challenging sometimes, pushing myself more paid off at the end, especially when I see the outcome of my efforts.

Creating my comic and going back to write about the literacy narrative made me write my text differently. The text narrative became much easier to write about since the comic-creation guided me to specific aspects about my narrative that I want to be highlighted.

I would say my analytical thinking process was definitely different than however it was before. Drawing and creating the comic changed the way in which I think about the story to ways I did not expect. While I thought creating a comic would limit my story, it actually inspired me to focus on certain aspects, as I mentioned before


Alqahtani’s Literacy Narrative 2 Reflection

This was by far the most challenging assignment I have ever had. Not mathematics, not physics, not even any other STEM-related assignment has been more challenging to me than this particular assignment

Although I tried as early as possible to make it better-looking, I have always failed to do so. However, I compensated this by challenging myself even more to draw materials I have never drawn before: a computer, a phone, and a fairly-detailed mosque.

While painful to a horrible drawer such as myself, the challenge helped me in forcing myself to think beyond my limited imagination when it comes to drawing


Literacy Comic Reflection

Literacy Narrative Comic <The Railway Journey> was the first assignment that I lost the track of time this semester. It was not because it was boring or seemed endless. Rather, it was because I was immersed in drawing. In fact, one day, I went to the library at sunrise and came out at sunset while being unaware that such a long time has passed.

However, at first, I worried about the pages and numbers of the drawings I had to do. I never have drawn for more than 5 hours since I was really young, and did not know that I was able to make such a piece. However, after starting drawing and finishing the first page, I gained confidence that I would be able to finish the whole comic while the panels represent the scene that I wanted to show. I think it was even more interesting as it was about my own story. I was able to reconfirm my burning desire for creation which I haven’t felt for a long time.

In the beginning, I had to summarize my story from Literacy part 1. I chose what to focus in each page and divided the summarized story into 4. Then, I determined how many panels of what shape to use and the angle of perspective(choice of frame) for some specific panels that came into my mind. After, I started drawing as aforementioned.

When the drawing was complete, I used my summarized story which was divided into 4, and started writing text. I sometimes used inside-panel text boxes, to separate from the normal texts and to give emphasis. Also, there is a speech bubble that invades two panels. It was a visual representation of the ear-splitting noise my cousin made at the time. Also, the panel – full of an enlarged page of a book and the highlighted words with their corresponding Korean meaning – was partially inspired by Fun Home.

After finishing 4 pages, I felt that the ending was too weak with no lasting meanings. I wanted it to have something metaphorical like in the ending of Stitches. However, I was not able to find a satisfying method. After a few days, while talking with a friend about a totally different topic, I said something like “effort does not always fairly pay off. Although we think it does, after achieving something, although we think we have been always going straight, we all took a detour to some extent at some point. At least for me, it was.” On the way back to my room, what I said resonated within my mind. From then, it did not take long for me to take the idea and metaphorically combine it with the train rail which has twists and turns however we think we are going straight while riding a train.

If I were to work on a similar assignment in the future, I would like to put more time into paint colors and include light and shade. I believe it would facilitate a more vivid delivery of the story. Also, I would use more variety of panels. After finishing it, the shape of the panels in the first two pages looked too monotonous.

Overall, it was a very exciting assignment. I was able to actually apply the concepts of comics that I read and discussed in class. I believe it was very different from the previous activities which focused on analyzing the given comic. It was an opportunity to be in the shoes of the author, which may help me understand the author’s motives and even the comic itself when reading them in the future.

Halfa Kucha Reflection

This assignment was very different compared to other assignments that I have done in this class. I thought a presentation would help me express my thoughts more clearly because I tend to struggle to express my ideas while writing an essay. I chose to do my Halfa Kucha on “Stitches” and “Kindred” because I saw the process of trauma and healing through both of them. I realized that just like I structured my presentation to help my audience understand the process of trauma and then a road to recovery, I should do the same with my essays to help the reader understand my thought process. My slides were mostly focused on certain images that I wanted to highlight and things that held meaning to me. I struggled with the format of this assignment because there were some slides where I had more to talk about and some slides where I did not have enough information. I realized that time management is extremely important while presenting to an audience and being precise so that they understand the purpose of your content. Something I could have done better in my presentation is be a little more confident in my content because I ended up stuttering which disrupted the flow of the argument.

Link to Halfa Kucha