Point, Line, Plane: Elise Detloff

The graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a memoir of the author’s life, focusing primarily on the familial relations, self-discovery, loss that Bechdel experienced throughout her life.

Since the story focusing primarily on the author and her family members, each panel places the various family members at the forefront of the drawing making them points, focal points in this sense. A point, according to Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, marks a position in space. In a more literal and graphic sense, most of the points used in this comic are used to form lines in order to create the curves and thicknesses needed to illustrate the family members and surroundings. Lines, after all, are an infinite series of points and geometrically are the connections between two points or the path of a moving point.

The individual panels are typically very centered, with the action occurring in the


Page 15 of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Image from Institute for Doctoral Studies In the Visual Arts. Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. New York, NY: First Mariner Books, 2007.

center of the image, drawing your eyes to that point. This creates a flowing feeling to reading this comic, there is this overarching theme and common element to each panel, making it feel like it all fits together without the similarity feeling boring or lifeless.


Lines are also used to create the different panels that separate scenes within the comic. This separation gives flow to the comic, allowing the reader to know the order of the scenes and when an idea ends and when a new one begins. When the lines connect in this way to create the panels, bounded planes are created, a bounded plane is essentially a closed shape. Planes are flat surfaces extending in height and width. It is on these planes that the lines and points come to together to create the images that create the cohesive narrative of the author’s story.

The planes utilize quite a bit of negative space, or white space, as can be seen in the example image. While the comic occasionally features more ornate backgrounds, the use of negative space helps to enhance the focus on the main characters and their actions. I also feel that this simple, clean, and somewhat rigid design choice is reflective of the father’s need for perfection and orderliness as described throughout the story and in the example.


About elisedetloff

I am a student attending Washington State University and this blog is a place to upload and view various projects created for my Com 210 class.
This entry was posted in Sample Posts by Students, Spring 2017 Archive (336). Bookmark the permalink.

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