For this first analytical assignment, your task is to use software to perform a digitally-assisted deconstruction or disassembly of a comic text. Use this process of deformance to play with comic syntax, structure, and semantics, and write a brief essay reflecting those insights.
The basic workflow for this assignment should look something like this:
- Select a comic. If you have no idea where to start, Comic Book Plus is a good place to find things.
- Select one panel or other subpage unit. A group of up to three interlocked panels is acceptable.
- Scan that panel. (The library copying machines are capable of acting as scanners.)
- Use some software (GIMP, PhotoShop, MSPaint, ETC.) to perform some or all of the following transformations — whichever are the most interesting, revelatory, transformative, or just fun:
- remove all of the text
- remove all of the color
- remove one or more characters
- remove, add, or distort color
- remove the panel borders
- remove other lines
- animate it
- anything else!
- Write a short essay analyzing your final, disassembled product.
- Submit your work by noon on February 9 (see instructions below)
The essay you write may be brief (at least 400 words), but it should be precise and detailed. Examine the differences between the disassembled product and the original, and reflect on that process: At what point did the panel lose its coherence? Is it still recognizable as a comic at all? Is there anything in what remains that illuminates, critiques, condenses, or clarifies some aspects or properties of the comic from which it was derived? Etc.
Write your essay in clear, academic prose that is stylistically effective and grammatically as perfect as you can make it. Assignments that receive full credit must satisfy all of the following criteria.
On the minimalist grading scale, these are the required criteria to earn a ✓ grade:
- Disassemblage. The disassembly work is thorough, transformative, provocative, or interesting.
- Clarity of Expression. The writing demonstrates and elegance, correctness, and tone appropriate to an upper-level literature course.
- Relevance and Coherence of Insight. The insights, discoveries, and nuances of the essay pay careful attention to detail, arriving at thoughtful, interesting conclusions that are well-grounded by the evidence of the source comic.
- Attention to Detail. The work is submitted correctly, on time, and follows formatting guidelines.
Submitting your Work
While you may wish to post your essay on the course website (and are welcome to), the primary way you should turn it in is via Canvas.
Using your favorite word processor, create a document that includes:
- the original scan (ideally, reduce it first to a reasonable resolution)
- the final disassembled version, and any in-between steps that are interesting or that pertain to your analysis.
- Your brief analysis essay
After the images, include your analysis essay in that same document.
Canvas prefers documents in DOC, DOCX or ODT format. Other formats like PDF, RTF, Google Docs or Pages can present complications, so please use some version of DOC if possible.