This is an archive of the work I have done for ENG 181: The Secret Language of Comics class during the 2021 Spring Semester of my freshman year at Emory University. https://eng181s21.davidmorgen.org/

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While choosing a course to fulfill my First-Year Writing Requirement at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, I overlooked all of the more “traditional” topics. The Secret Language of Comics piqued my curiosity in what it could possibly be about. I find myself reading a lot of comics like Invincible and manga like Attack on Titan so I felt that this course fit my interests. Another reason why I decided to enroll in this class is to get the opportunity to put the Ipad I take notes with into use and to develop my drawing skills. After taking this course, to my surprise, I look back now and think about how far I had come as a writer. I had grown much more aware of the process of writing itself and the class helped facilitate my own development as a writer. Through the exploration of comics and the theory behind the decisions authors make when they draw and write their books, I was able to develop my critical thinking skills and writing methodology.

My learning did occur instantaneously after each major project but rather overtime. The roles that the Sunday Sketch assignments played over the time of the course really helped me facilitate the learning I did in the major projects and put me in the shoes of different creators. At first, the first couple of assignments that were assigned to me seemed almost unrelated to each other and the course itself. But the more time went by, I soon realized that it was merely guiding me slowly to learn how to show clarity in my comics and as an extension, my writing. The first Sunday Sketch that challenged me to tell a story and to think critically outside of a text-based format was the Triptych. I had been presented with the webcomic A Softer World and the writing methods of authors Emily and Joey in their popular comic strips made of nothing but three panels with photographs and words superimposed on them. I had to take into account a recurring picture American cartoonist Art Spiegelman drew that guided my own assignment to tell a story. For my strip, I wanted to make it a conversation someone may overhear when walking past a couple arguing at a subway station. For the dialogue, I tried to make it ironic that the “manipulator” was gaslighting his girlfriend when being confronted about doing that exact thing. I took into account all pillars of the Clarity columns in order to make an effective comic strip. This is one example of where I learned how to compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes. These techniques where I took in mind the “underlying formal elements that create the illusions,” and explored ways to depict my ideas and stories clearly. This assignment was extremely important in a way that it affected the ways I approached the major assignment I wrote in the Literacy Narrative.

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A Recurring Comic Slide by Art Spiegelman in the class that helped me learn clarity.

In Literacy Narratives Parts 1-3, I learned a combination of learning outcomes. Specifically, the project involved Rhetorical Composition, Writing as a Process, and Composing Texts in Multiple Genres. The first part of the Literacy Narrative was to brainstorm a number of memories that were important to how I developed my ‘Literacy’ and writing skills. This part of the assignment helped me learn how to plan potential ways I would structure a essay where I tell a story and to explore different routes I would go in order to make the story engaging for the reader. After writing and uploading the assignment, I had a meeting with Dr. Morgen who pointed out that , in addition to a weak thesis, the middle section of my Literacy Narrative was the weakest part. It lacked the substance and expositional strength of my other paragraphs. After taking in the critique, I was able to go back to the drawing board for my Literacy Narrative Part 2 where I was tasked with turning the story I told in Part 1 into a comic. I spent many hours storyboarding the ‘flow’ and making sure that the main points of my story were clear to the reader. I drew my comic revolving around the story arc of how I discovered that I was a visual learner and my love of film analysis videos. Although I was ultimately unsatisfied with how my comic turned out, I learned many things from it. My creative decisions that I regret making in the assignment was the use of “boxes” to put my comic. I felt that the boxes limited the type of story telling that I wanted to employ and that if I had taken an approach similar to Allie Brosh’s webcomics instead of Nick Drnaso’ Sabrina, I would have been able to achieve my desired creative vision. One of the main learning outcomes that I faced in this assignment was being able to revision and reflect on the choices I made in past parts of the assignment. While reflecting on all of my parts in the assignment, I was able to create a final Literacy Narrative Part 3 where I retell my first essay formatted Literacy Narrative in a way that shows that I had rethink, rearrange, and reenvisioned the literacy narrative. After making many edits and omissions, I was able to create a effective narrative that I am proud of.

In exploring Crocker’s journey in documenting the debate and craze to determine the existence of the ivory-billed woodpecker with the values Tsing learns in her journey with matsutake foragers in Oregon, both authors are able to explore commodification, conservation, and discover how one can live with prosperity in an age marked by precarity in the shadow of late-stage capitalism.”Finding Life in Post-Capitalist Ruins” – Martin Huang

An important thing I learned in this class was to to be able to write effective and clear thesis statements. I applied this in my CPLT 202 class in which I created a extremely effective thesis that allowed me to write a comparative essay on two massive pieces of literature. These skills were picked up from my Tracing Stitches assignment where I annotated from Stitches by David Small and Spinning by Tillie Walden and how they used what I described as “rhythm”. The similar comparative essay style of these pieces helped me figure out how I approached the revision process. The most interesting part of this assignment was the challenge of writing our thesis in the last paragraph instead of our introduction. This taught me to think of my essay more as a whole and the thesis statement an overarching directive of the essay rather than a sentence that I just had to put in my introductory paragraph in order to start my essay. These are just one of the many parts in which I worked on the learning outcomes.

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Tracing of Stitches

Cumulatively, I believe that this course will be very helpful in my future college classes at Emory. The practices in revision, storytelling through non traditional modes, and read comics through new lenses. The class has allowed me to tap into the more creative aspects of writing while learning to build on my writing processes to create different projects.

Sunday Sketches

Sketch 12: Assemblies

For my assembly, I wanted to draw a rocket to how how everything built up in this class so that it could reach space. I think that the foundation of the rocket is the digital citizenship aspect of the class regarding fair use of images as well as being able to learn to use wordpress.Continue reading “Sketch 12: Assemblies”

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