As the students are now progressing deeper into the creation of their Literary Analysis papers, I found it incredibly fitting (since students already have access to materials about conducting textual analysis of works) that their reading of McCloud offers up McCloud’s own thoughts about ways to approach an understanding of the steps taken in the creation of work by any artist (writers included).
Students were shown a PowerPoint covering the same material found below.
McCloud starts off here by addressing the fact that up until this point he has been dealing with elements “unique” to comics.
Of course, this issue of “comics as art” is still a question today. Even more important, one that some of my Composition 2 students are particularly tackling is the flip side of that coin: “can comics be literature.”
At the core of any art, and McCloud notes that this can be “comics . . . painting, writing, theatre, film . . .” there is always a “purpose.”
McCloud moves forward here to presenting us with his path, consisting of 6 steps:
In the Composition 2 classroom where we are writing a Research Paper, “how” these steps function offer up not only a way to create comics, but as McCloud alludes to and clarifies later, but as a means for visualizing and approaching the writing process as well.
Step 1, then, represents the genesis point for students. Now, in the Composition classroom as I normally employ, students are given a fairly open range and latitude to select their purpose or idea to write upon. This is, of course, subject to guidance from me as their instructor. However, in the Graphic Novel Composition 2 classroom I am currently running with students, and as seen in Application Approach 1.0 posting,
I presented a somewhat arbitrary condition to their ideas and purpose via the selection of a Graphic Novel from a provided list and the choice between three possible thesis questions to generate their actual thesis statements.
What jumped out as I was discussing this step with my students is the fact that, for the moment, this is a “locked in” or “predetermined” feature of my Composition classroom. However, on a side note, and as mentioned to be discussed further in my posting Looking to Re-Think How I Teach Composition, Part 1 about “re-defining” the use of course objectives, I want to find ways to allow students greater creative latitude in the process. More on that to come.
As for Step 2, this step is often the one students meet first in the process. This is where they are told on Day 1, “hey, you get to write a research paper for this class.”
Like with Step 2, this is another example where the “Research Paper” assignment that I give students provides them with the genre they will work with. That genre comes with a style too, the academic style of writing. This style comes with formatting and a whole host of other guidelines and expectations.
The Structure is something that, usually dictated by genre, is something that I often find myself taking time to explain to students.
One example comes from Composition 1 where I teach the genre of the Article Analysis. In this analysis, I make a point, often visually, of walking students through balancing of summary and analysis parts of the paper. I often, given the length, point out to students that I like to see 3 paragraphs of summary. This is then followed by 3 paragraphs of analysis (using the material from Norton’s Field Guide I have students use the investigation of purpose, audience, and stance to act as things to analyze).
Another, more pertinent to Composition 2, is my preference for the use of the Classical Argument Structure I ask my students to apply in their Research Papers. This again is a structure that presents some form of arbitrary formatting for the students to follow: Introduction, Background/Narration, Argument, Counter-Argument, Conclusion, and Works Cited. However, within sections of this structure I point out that there are still decisions by the students that need to be made: what to include, what to leave out, etc.
This is the part where the student is, as I discuss it in application to writing, applying themselves and putting themselves to task in drafting and revising, and polishing, their paper. I point out that this is the step also where students not only have to figure out how the paper should come together, but also take time to revise, edit, and proof the paper. This is where they should attend also to MLA formatting as well.
In particular with writing, this encompasses both elements of polishing for publication, as well as, as I put it to my students, checking and turning over time to crafting a good title. When we talk about initial contact between a paper and an audience, titles can provide the first point of entry for whether or not someone chooses to go further in the reading. This “exposure” can also branch out to include the introduction and thesis statement as well here.
Visually, McCloud sums this up with a representation of the steps as an “apple.”
Now, taking this specifically from the writing process and moving it to the Literary Analysis assignment my students are engaged in with their graphic novels, I took a moment to illustrate not only how one uses the steps to form and create, but also to analyze as well.
Arrow 1, moving outward, represents of course the general process. The specific process my students are using for the Literary Analysis is Arrow 2. I specifically mention that the analysis for them is about getting to and uncovering the purpose at the heart of their graphic novel. Along the way they should also take note of an specific use of the other steps that may or may not stand out as significant upon closer analysis. For instance, if any of them had chosen to pick some work of Alan Moore’s, such as Watchmen, I would have asserted to them the fact that Moore is one of those who makes use of ALL the steps in a significant fashion.
Moving beyond the steps, McCloud points out some examples of the ways that people come to comics and ways that the steps play out in that process.
The notion here of someone going beyond exposure and deciding to apply skills to create comics of their own is something that I myself am beginning and working on. It is something I plan to share as part of my Adaptation Approach postings.
ARTIST 1, EXAMPLE 1
ARTIST 2, EXAMPLE 2
ARTIST 3, EXAMPLE 3
ARTIST 4, EXAMPLE 4
ARTIST 5, EXAMPLE 5
ART for ART or ART with a PURPOSE