Trauma in thumbnails

It is done, I’ve succeeded in keeping up with the high pace of my sequential art class. Last assignment: create a storyline that must contain the following 3 elements:
-1. a park, –2. a child, and –3. a balloon that comes to life.
Most people I guess would make fluffy lovey-dovey and sugary sweet story-lines with this, but not me… When I think of childhood, I can think of nothing else but trauma, neglect, anxiety and bullying!
So here is my first attempt to make a serious piece, instead of my usual gags and humorous work. This gets close to home. In this work I show myself as an adult male and then simply just jump to displaying myself as a little girl – without any explanation, something I quite like here. I wonder if a random unsuspecting reader would get confused by this, and somehow not ‘see’ the genders, which would of course totally be a perfect demonstration of its social construct 🙂

NOTE Content warning: emotional child abuse.
Partially fictional, but mostly accurate.

Remember these are only sketches, it’s not a fully fledged graphical piece.
Click the gallery, escape to go back:

Homework reflections:

It’s a bit too sentimental, but I think I am getting close to what I was hoping to learn: pacing, creative layouts and more conscious storytelling.

For each page discuss the thinking behind the layouts utilized to tell the story:

Does anyone really want to read my thoughts? Well here it goes, see if you agree: The first page is a big page, almost a splash page, where you see the protagonist walking along the park as an adult. Everything is drawn in blue. This page should be on the right page in a comic book. There is no text, because I wanted to stretch time, same for page 2, where I’m using little text.
Then page 3 and 4 have a lot of text where I am telling about the childhood of ‘the child’. Everything is drawn in brown. These pages would both be facing each other in a comic book.  I needed a variation of the 6-panel grid for narrative beats with more or less the same scene-to-scene panels.
In page 5 I use these narrative beats as well, but halfway I’m shifting to a scene with the strict/severe mother – then for page 6 I noticed I needed many small little panels in order to show the child falling asleep and being startled.
Here the child enters a very colorful world (literally drawn in full-color), fully displayed on page 7, only to be woken again into the brown world by its mother. The act of waking up is in a panel with wrinkly/wavy borders.
Finally in page 8 we are back in the blue present again, ending with a dark almost silent large panel, suggesting a bleak future.

Pick one aspect of the layout that you are particularly happy with at the moment:

I am very happy with the many different kinds of layouts I’ve used. Before doing this course I really had no clue! I was just sort of doing it by intuition, but it’s much better to think how silent panels influence the experience of time, so i am most happy with the silent panels, and the ones that have almost no text, particularly the last one.

I wanted to challenge myself to NOT make a punch line. So I didn’t want to put in a character with a ‘challenge’ or an adventure with closure, or some kind of moral. I was aiming for an open ending, but I decided to give closure with a bleak last image that sort of suggests a bleak future, so I am happy with that one.

Are there any pages or portions of the layout that you are not satisfied with at this stage in the planning process?:

If I would draw this comic for real, I would use 95% of this layout, tweaking it just a bit.
I might add 1 extra panel to show the child falling asleep, or another one to make it clear that the colorful world wasn’t real, it was all a dream, not quite sure how to do that, perhaps one more extra panel after the child is woken by the mother. And I’m not sure about the sequence where the mother tells the child to wait, but I didn’t know how else to stretch this drama onto the next page.

This short course has been surprisingly in depth and wonderful, I feel a little more certain I might one day be able to make a serious graphic novel. And I’m already working on a new comic, so stay tuned!
I can’t believe I’m posting all of this for you for free!

Jump to:
Comics class week #1
Comics class week #2
Comics class week #3
Comics class week #4
Comics class week #5 (this post).



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