Final Digital Comic Collage: Maddy West

Comic by Maddy West, March 2020.

When creating my comic, I knew that I wanted to create something that really represented me and who I am as an individual. Throughout my life, my mom has regularly made memory boxes that focus on specific years in my life. These are filled with everything from school work and crafts to pictures. While I do not have access to one of these boxes at school, I have access to a lot of the items that I know I would put into a box. What I ultimately put together fits into McCloud’s definition of a comic because it is images of things deliberately put together to look like someone pulled things out of a box and spread them out to look at them. By providing context with the words “My Memory Box” the whole comic takes on a new meaning to the viewer, making it clear that all of the pieces in it mean something to the owner (me). By knowing this information, the images convey a sense of nostalgia and memory to the audience. I think that both McCloud and Lynda Barry helped me think about my work the most because they both placed strong emphasis on how the written word can impact the way a comic is perceived. If I took off the words “My Memory Box” I think the entire meaning of the comic would become really unclear. I also really liked Barry’s style of comic, where she just stacked things on top of each other, added lots of texture, and mostly worked in the collage style. This inspired my actual creation of my comic. When picking out the different items that I wanted to use in my comic, I focused on things that could add both texture but also had strong personal meaning to me. While I was held back by the fact that I only have the items that I have at school, I was still able to easily find things that have important meaning to me. There are some cutouts from my favorite coloring book, which I use to relax after crazy times during my life. These helped bring a pattern to the background of the comic. I left them uncolored because the colored ones were kind of distracting, and I mainly wanted the coloring patterns to fade to the background. I included some passes that I have kept from this year. The first was from the AC Slater concert that occurred at the beginning of the year, which was the first time I was an acting executive member with the Student Entertainment Board. The other was from the Klay Thompson basketball game. Sports are a really big part of my life here at WSU, so it was important for me to include an aspect of this in my comic. Both of these have the cool aspect of the lanyards, which I was sure to include in my scans. I also have some pictures that mean a lot to me as they have important people in them. I included a cutout from a card my grandma got me, which I liked because it added both texture (from the jewels) and personal meaning (as our family name is Peacock). I also have a sticker from the SEB, which I liked because there is texture from the tear of the paper. It has a lot of personal meaning, along with the business card because both relate to my Student Entertainment Board job which is really important to me and definitely defines who I am as a person. I used only three words in my comic because I felt that it made the comic the most clear that way. I picked a simple font that was in all black because I wanted the words to add to the story of the pictures, not distract from it. I just allowed the words to fit into the space that the images had left on the page.

This is not my first time using Photoshop but my previous experience is fairly limited. I am a communications major, and I had to take a class called COM210, which helps teach students how to use a variety of technology. In this class, the 2 week section for Photoshop was the only time that I used Photoshop before. Because of this, despite my previous experience, pretty much everything that we learned (past the very basics of operating the system) was new to me. I think that the most useful tools that we learned were the clipping masks and the quick mask mode. I knew nothing about masks before we started so learning how to be able to individually edit pictures and then bring them all together (without losing my edits) was super beneficial. I used these skills to be able to cut out my scans, from their backgrounds, and also to make sure that I got all the details of the scan in. Things like the lanyards (and the twisting parts) were made super easily by the masks. The most confusing part about all of these things was the details. Making sure that I clicked the right buttons in the right order to get to the right end goal was honestly the hardest aspect of learning Photoshop for me. A lot of times, I had to go back and figure out what order I needed to go in so that I did not mess anything up. After I did this a few times, it became significantly easier. I am surprised by how much I liked composing in the digital environment. I thought that I would feel held back by my lack of abilities to do what I wanted, but after watching the tutorials and just playing around, I found that I had more skills than I originally thought that I did. Being able to compose digitally also gave me a lot of power over the final product and the quality of the product that working in person would not allow me to do. All of the images were clear, focused, and super easy to manipulate. I also liked how easy it was to fix my mistakes! Being able to go back and see no repercussions for making a cut wrong or changing my mind about the size of something is a powerful tool that I didn’t realize I liked having a lot, but now that I know, it will be hard to go back.

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