I enjoyed the writing process for this assignment, however, it was unlike any other assignments that I have done before, and so it involved a lot of experimenting. Initially, I found it easy to think about the page that I was going to trace from book 1. I simply chose a shocking moment that stood out to me (p108) and traced it by outlining all the characters and their speech bubbles. As I mentioned in my shading post, I didn’t originally shade my pages, however, the process of my not shading made me realise how important it was. I then went back, shaded my first tracing and annotated it. Physically drawing out all of the details from the page made me pay attention to smaller details that I had simply glanced over before. In addition, annotating the pages really made me analyse the page in a depth that I would never go into if I was just reading Maus for class. Labelling this first page did help me to come up with some main ideas to talk about, but I also labelled lots of stuff that I didn’t talk about, and talked about a lot of stuff that I didn’t label. In general, it was useful because it initiated a deeper level of thinking and started the thinking process, but it was also very time consuming. My next step was to pick the second page. Although p51 did stand out to me, I also picked it because it would be easy to continue the points that I thought about discussing on page 1. The tracing took a long time, because there was a lot of detail on this page, but overall, I think tracing the pages helped because it forced me to really engage with the page.
I also preferred the writing style of this assignment, whereby we created a series of interlinked smaller ideas rather than one long piece of linear alphanumeric text. It did take a long time to set up all the links between pages, however, I found this task much easier to tackle when I looked at it as three little ideas rather than as one big essay. I find long essays daunting.
Within each individual point, I tried to have a mini thesis statement, and paragraphs about each annotated page which gave examples of supporting detail, however, I found it hard to stick to the word limit by following this structure. I had too much to say about each point and making links between the ideas also took up a lot of words, so I went over the suggested word limit by a fair amount.
I was also late in turning in this assignment. Although I found it enjoyable once I was engaged in the task, I kept putting off writing my ideas, and I would do it in chunks, rather than just sitting down and writing it all. This definitely made it harder to find links between my ideas because time passed, and I forgot what I had already written. This is just due to my own procrastination.
Overall, I do think that this assignment helped me to get in on ‘the secret language of comics’. I speculated about things that I would never have considered when I first read the comic through, and I feel that I have a much deeper understanding of the skill that goes into creating the visuals for a graphic novel now. I wouldn’t say that this task made me understand the storyline more, but it certainly made me understand the structure of the visual part of comics much more. Before this assignment, I hadn’t considered just how much a visual style decision could impact the information that you take in. I previously thought that the visuals simply supported the text, but I now consider the visuals as equal, if not superior sources of information.
Read my entire Tracing Maus project by following these links: