The Constant Redrafting of this Project and My Life: A Literacy Narrative Reflection

The hardest part about turning my written essay into a visual comic was putting my pencil to the page to begin drawing. I spent most of my time planning out what I wanted in my head so much so that sometimes I found myself stuck for days working on the same page, without even beginning to draw. The most important stylistic aspect that I wanted to include in my piece was a sense of a full page piece of art. I didn’t want to separate the bits into simple blocks of text and image, but rather, I wanted to create that feeling of “all-at-onceness” when one turns to the next page.

This odd stylistic determination was probably the biggest hindrance to me actually making the comic. For each page before I could make a mark I had to ask myself: what is the purpose of this page? And then I tried to come up with a way to convey that feeling as an entire page, while at the same time spacing in smaller moments of plot structure that still connected to the page as a whole. This thematic sectioning by page also forced me to boil down my essay to the core feelings and ideas I needed to convey to properly show my story visually. In this way I actually rethought a lot of my narrative. How is one supposed to represent the feeling of nostalgia in a drawing? What is the true story I am trying to tell? When I asked myself these questions I ended up changing the actual story slightly. Instead of feeling forlorn at the apparent emptiness of my nostalgia for my childhood, I became inspired to draw again from reading Harold and the Purple Crayon. Both of these feelings are true and both still relate to the feelings my childhood books leave with me, but in my written narrative it was easier to focus on the abstract concept of nostalgia while in my graphic narrative it was easier to convey the desire to draw. In some ways though I believe those are similar things. I’m not sure if I managed to properly convey this in my graphic, but to me the nostalgia for a time when I could spend the entire day sitting around in my room reading and drawing is very real. The fact that this is a simplified narrative –which shifted from the idea of an empty nostalgia and towards the artistic inspiration and fulfillment I received from reliving my childhood– does not discredit the reality of the new visual story.

I played around with the fourth wall breaking idea of Harold for a while before I settled down on the final version. At first I was imagining a scene in which Harold quite literally draws my childhood memories, or even having a younger version of myself draws my memories. Had I more time I would have loved to incorporate color into the piece, either having Harold and my childhood in color, or having everything be black and white until I re-read Harold and the Purple Crayon in a dazzling panel in which I jump inside the world of the book and begin coloring in my old memories alongside Harold. When I was drawing out the middle couple pages of the graphic my mind stumbled upon the visual of me drawing Harold and Harold drawing me. Almost a ying-yang, snake eating its own tail, balance sort of thing. If I were to create a cover for this piece it would certainly consist of that. This image struck a deeper chord in me. To me it speaks to how we are constantly drawing from our pasts and how we are also constantly redrawing our own pasts. Every time I read Harold and the Purple Crayon –or any book for that matter– I am redrawing and reshaping the experience that I previously had from it. I am taking that initial feeling and molding it into a slightly different version. I don’t know if that came across in the story of the comic but I was definitely thinking about that in the involvement of Harold throughout my piece.

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