Putting It All Together: Maddy West

Comic created by Maddy West, May 2020.

This comic was my favorite of all of the ones we have created so far! I was a little bit nervous trying to tackle something that was so large, but I ended up learning a lot about illustrator and I feel like it turned out really well.

I was really inspired by the comic prompt and Scott McCloud when he said “no other human being can ever know what it’s like to be you from the inside,” (McCloud, 194). I think this is a sentiment that we all struggle with constantly because it is incredibly lonely to think that you are alone in your head. I think that people are all incredibly different but also the same. That’s why when we are able to relate to characters in books and fall in love with movie characters. Getting to know someone is opening your heart to them and loving them. This is why I made my comic the way that I did. I thought it would be interesting to showcase the things that are most important to me. These are the things that have truly shaped who I am as a person.

The four aspects of myself that I think are essential to who I am are traveling, reading/books, my faith, and baking (which usually happens with my best friend). This is what makes up the first of McCloud’s steps, which is the idea. I wanted to create a comic that showcased how I became who I am, hopefully giving the viewer something to relate to in some way.

The second step that McCloud lists is form. Obviously for this assignment, I had to create a comic, but I took a little bit more liberty with the way that my comic was structured. First, I had the title in the middle, with cursive writing, stating “My Core Self.” I tried to pick a font as close to my own handwriting as possible. I think that this writing makes the comic understandable. I then had four different panels that are not related to each other (which is why the title is necessary). I tried to size the panels so that the things that have changed me the most are bigger. The plane is the biggest because I have found so much of myself in seeing other places and experiencing other people. The church is the next biggest because it is the most steady aspect of my personality. I have always been strong in my faith because it has always been there for me to lean into. The books on the table are the next largest because books have provided an escape throughout my whole life. Whenever I wasn’t able to travel, I turned to books to teach me about other places and things. Finally, baking is the last panel. My best friend and I started baking together in seventh grade, and it has become a core part of our friendship. Whenever one of us is going through something, the other will show up with a treat. This has helped baking become an important part of me and makes me feel calmer.

The next step was idiom. This was a little harder for me to categorize but since McCloud says that this step contains the “genre” of the comic, I would say that this is nonfiction. This is a comic about myself and my experiences, which have all happened.

The next step is structure. I kind of covered some of this information while talking about the form of the comic. The biggest aspect of this was the size of the panels, which helps indicate their importance. This step also talks about what got left out. I was purposeful in deciding that I didn’t want to include captions with each of the panels. I think that if I had explained each individual panel, it would take away some of the ability for the comic reader to just relate to specific parts of my story.

The next step that McCloud discusses is craft. This comic definitely pushed my abilities as a creator and forced me to get really creative solving different problems in illustrator. I used a variety of tools that I had not practiced with before (such as the scissor tool, the pen tool, adding points, adding textures, etc) that allowed me to get different looks with the different panels. I made each panel look totally different mostly because I wanted to try out a variety of visual types. The airplane was the most minimalist, so I tried to make the shape really reflect that of a plane. I did this by playing around with all of the anchor points and learning how to create shapes that I didn’t previously know how to create. The cupcake was fun because it allowed me to play with adding a lot of different shapes and colors and shadows together. This helped me get a “logo” like look. The books were fun to create because they forced me to play around with sizing and shading a lot. I struggled to get the exact correct line curve but I still think they turned out pretty well. Finally the church, which definitely took the longest time. It took me forever to build the actually building because I had to play with the size and shape of every single aspect. I built a lot of separate shapes that I then joined together for this one. The windows were also really hard. I had to learn how to add different colors to one shape and then practiced with the gradient tool, to give them the stained glass look. Overall, the different aspects of the comic challenged me in different ways and forced me to utilize a lot of the different skills we have learned over the semester.

The final step is the surface step. I think if someone just glanced at my comic they would be able to understand the basic idea that the content of the four panels makes up who I am. They probably wouldn’t notice the small details but they would still be able to grasp the basic idea.

This comic was definitely more ambitious than my other two comics. First, this comic took me about 15 hours to complete because I worked really hard on getting the small details of every single panel to look good. This detail work forced me to get more comfortable with the illustrator interface and practice a lot of things I had not previously known how to do. I think that this pushed me to also go deeper in my understanding of what a comic is. Instead of telling the story of a single moment, I am telling the whole story of myself. This just makes the comic more true to who I am and how I create. Overall, I am the most proud of this comic because of how it pushed me and the skills it forced me to learn.

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