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Tragicomics

I had a lot of trouble with this particular assignment. There were no constraints. I do not do well without constraints. And because my travel schedule kept me from having a partner, I spent a whole week agonizing over possible responses. How about something minimalistic–telling a story using just one black dot? Or combining photos and drawings in an interesting way? Or how about playing with the dimensionality of the frame, layering things over and under? And that’s just formatting. What idea do I want to convey? Or more importantly, which of the ideas that I want to convey lends itself best to being expressed in a series of images? Or what if I randomly assemble some images, will people still find a narrative path through them as Scott McCloud contends? Or how about combining all of these ideas? Photoshop has unlimited layers…

For PComp, we read a piece about the bandwidth of the brain that talked about how editing (and I would argue by extension communication) becomes exponentially more complex (and richer) when you move from the one-dimensionality of written language to the two-dimensionality of audio to the three-dimensionality of video. Working on this comic really drove that home. While I was able to describe my concept in a couple of sentences once I’d sketched it out, it took me much longer to arrange it into a visual narrative.

To do so, I used Photoshop to edit a picture I took of the restroom signs at ITP into the comic’s various frames and then composed them in Illustrator, mostly because I hate clunky Photoshop almost as much as I love fleet and nimble Illustrator. And also because it’s much easier to move things around and play with text.

It was fun to play around with symbols and devise ways of arranging images to convey innuendo without descending into vulgarity. But I think I’ll stick with words as my principal medium, they’re not resolution dependent. Will I ever get away from bathrooms in my academic work, you might ask. It appears the answer is resoundingly no. Nonetheless, I’m pretty happy with how the comic turned out; it’s low-brow in content and fine in form, like a really good burger. There’s one panel that perhaps doesn’t read quite right, but there’s always a piece of gristle even in the choicest ground chuck.

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