What Are You Doing?

Telling a true story didn’t seem like a very difficult thing to do, I have over eighteen years of experiences to draw from.

…which I instantly forgot the moment I sat down to draw.

Seeing as my entire life was useless in terms of material for this assignment, I did the only logical thing: I put it off.

Instead, I helped my roommate (who plans on majoring in Playwriting) with her homework, memorizing a scene. As you’ll see in the comic below, I wasn’t as helpful as I thought I’d be.  I figured a moment that made me laugh so entirely at my own carelessness would be a good place to draw on. It reminded me a lot of the example we were given, I’m An Idiot at xkcd. Sure enough, the inspiration followed.

“What are you Doing?” by Me! It reads left to right (pair of speech bubbles, then the far view, then the other big frame, then the two small ones, and finally the drawing at the bottom right). I should make that clearer next time!


As you can see, I misinterpreted my roommate’s question, thinking she was asking for the character’s stage direction rather than just saying her line. I felt so silly afterwards, that I knew this had to be what I’d make my comic about.

It was definitely a challenge to draw this. While I feel that the story adapted very well to a visual medium, I knew that drawing us practicing her scene up on our beds would be a difficult thing to manage. While I could have changed that (bended the terms of “truth”), I thought drawing this would really help give a setting that attributed the proper mood to the situation. I found an old picture of our room before it was full of all our stuff and was able to lightly trace the angles for the beds. Afterwards, I added the characters. It was definitely tricky to draw these characters more than once while maintaining a similar appearance. It definitely helped that our hair colors and styles are very different, which was why our hair is the only thing with color.

Often in my drawings, I’ll keep them completely colorless except for one element, which in this case was the hair, seeing as it was useful as a distinguishing factor.

On the scale of truth, I think my comic would fall closer to Palestine than Maus, because I kept the facts as accurate as my artistic abilities allowed me. It is true that I avoided realistic faces (but that’s mostly because those are hard, and I thought that my simple cartoon-ish faces would suit the narrative nicely), and that my story is a personal one, nevertheless, the setting, words, and silences mirror exactly (although that’s a dangerous word to use) what happened.

Speaking of words, they play a strange role in this particular comic. I gave a great deal of time and effort to the images, with all the intention of giving them priority, yet the words seem to match them in quantity. The actual important words, as in the dialogue between me and my roommate, are not a lot, and the silence is important. What ends up occupying so much space and tipping the balance is the ridiculously long stage direction, which is, in essence, the joke of the comic. While it visually fills up the page with letters, these particular words serve more as a visual idea than something the readers should really pay attention to in detail (this is shown by the fact that one of the drawings actually covers up some of the stage direction). Similarly, the script lives in the limbo between words and images, meant to be an image, but broadcasting its message through the words upon it.

Overall, this project took me a ridiculously long time to complete, but it was time that I greatly enjoyed and invested voluntarily. The end result is something that I’m very proud of, and proof that I’m learning more about how comics work, and warming up to the medium as something to turn to outside of what I “have to” do.

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