Weekly Blog: Show and Tell: Maddy West

Comic by Maddy West, April 2020

When I was looking at the prompt for this weeks comic, I began to think about how we as people have come to view ourselves, and how the could be represented by words. I think that every person has had an experience where they look in the mirror and see something that they do not like. For this comic, I choose that the main character viewed themselves as fat because I think a lot of people see that as equating to not beautiful in our society. Once I had the idea to portray a person in this light, my concept developed and tied in with the interdependent word-picture combination super well. I think in the three panels of the comic (not the title) all of the words are interdependent. In the first panel, the viewer would not be able to understand that the person is frowning because of their perception of themselves without actually being able to see the reflection in the mirror where the word “fat” is displayed. The words in the panel with the two other people really highlight why the change is happening in the bathroom panel. In the bathroom panel we see the main character looking in the mirror and smiling, which we can infer is because they see something new in the mirror. That change would not have happened without the other characters speaking positively about the main character.

I think that the headlining panel uses the additive word-picture combination. Scott McCloud says that in the additive combination “words amplify or elaborate on an image or vice versa”. I think that the reader would be able to understand the comic without the title, but I think that the title “How Do You See Yourself?” makes the reader actually think about what they are seeing in the mirror, instead of just thinking about what the character is seeing in the mirror.

I used illustrator for my creation of this comic, and I used the different shape tools a lot to create this comic. I also used the shaper tool a lot, allowing me to get more specific shapes. I tried to utilize the gradient tool, especially with the mirror, because I think that it adds depth to the picture. I definitely struggled to make the items I used the gradient tool on to look exactly like I want them, but it helped add to the picture. I also used the type tool for all of the words in the comic, but varied them by font. This allowed me to get the specific look I wanted for each word, since adobe has such a variety of fonts. In changing the fonts, I was able to add different weights to the words. I think that “fat” is a heavy word, often associated with bad things, which is why I made it super thick and red (to stand out). I made the two characters complimenting the main character have a “lighter” font that was closer to handwritten, and thus more human. I know that compliments make me feel light and airy so I wanted that to come across in the compliment. I tried to keep the titles font more neutral, but a little on the lighter side. The question isn’t asking people to critique themselves, so I wanted it to look like something that wasn’t scary or dark to think about. This medium has a lot of options with the presentation of words which I think can really help a comic stand out.

I also utilized color a lot in my comic, showing the main character in darker clothes because they are having a harder time. The two other characters are dressed in light clothes and even have a light colored talking box. This helps the reader associate them with happier things. I tried to utilize color in the background sparingly, mainly just to provide context for where the individuals are, so that it didn’t distract from the message. I think that the hardest part about illustrator for me was the amount of time it took me to get something to look exactly the way I wanted it to. Instead of just putting a pencil to paper and drawing a line, I had to work with specific tools to get that line to curve the right way. This also allows for a lot of freedom that I didn’t have while drawing because my artistic skills while physically drawing are not super strong. Overall, I really enjoyed being able to work on illustrator and learning the interface even more.

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