#MeanwhileHereComics #การ์ตูนที่นี่ Challenge 2/2

As an assignment for the “Visual Media Studies” course (GenEd course offered by the Faculty of Communications ArtsChulalongkorn University, Thailand), students from various faculties and departments (Architecture, Communication Design, Psychology, Engineering, Literature…) were asked to explore the concept of “windows on time in a single place” developed by American cartoonist Richard McGuire with his two stories titled “Here” (1989 in the pages of RAW, and 2014 as an extended graphic novel). The complete groundbreaking graphic narrative can be read on this post: “Here” by Richard McGuire.

Here are some of the results, tackling topics such as Thai political turmoil, adoption, Black Lives Matter, but also time travel, family ties and… cats. Many more results from the CommArts students are also posted on this page.

PS: click on the comics pages for higher resolution.


Comics by June (Malisa), student at CommDe Y3.
Comics by Nat, student at INDA (Archi) Y3.
Comics by Nattamon, student at INDA (Archi) Y2.
Comics by Palmy (Thanita), student at JIPP (Psycho) Y2.
Comics by Kaohom (Nannapat), student at INDA (Archi) Y2.
Comics by Prim, student at CommDe Y3.
Comics by Levi, student at INDA (Archi) Y2.
Comics by Khem, student at INDA (Archi) Y3.
Comics by Pang and Tawan, students at CommDe Y3. Page 1/2.
Comics by Pang and Tawan, students at CommDe Y3. Page 2/2.
Comics by Nina (Namida), student at INDA (Archi) Y2.
Comics by Grace & Win, students at CommDe Y3. Page 1/2.
Comics by Grace & Win, students at CommDe Y3. Page 2/2.

Refugee Narratives: 10 Pantomime Performance Videos

One of the main creative assignments of the “Imaginative Communication” course [a Comparative Media course in which we explore the theme “How to Tell the Unutterable” by analyzing and comparing the depiction of Psychic Trauma in various visual media, from comics to animated & live-action movies, tv series or choreographies] is for the students to compose and produce a group performance based on refugee narratives. After visualizing refugees’ journeys graphically [see previous assignment “Refugee’s Grid and Gestures“], watching some related footages [Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 The Immigrant, Wilfredo Rivera’s immigration choreography The Golden Bird Cage, or PositiveNegatives’ animated zoom-comics North Star Fading], reading/watching comics and webcomics [Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Marc Ellison and Didier Kassai’s immersive graphic novel House Without Windows, or our former students’ refugee comics dice], discovering refugee installations [architect Mohamad Hafez’s multi-media installation Unpacked] and analyzing and comparing Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel and animated feature Persepolis, students were asked to compose a live pantomime performance of 3′ to 5′ [depending on the number of team members]. The constraint was that their refugee characters had to remain silent, voiceless, muted by the trauma, unable to speak the language of their ‘host’ country, or fearing to speak their own language and have their illegal/foreign status revealed.

Unpacked
Unpacked multi-media installation by Syrian-born architect Mohamad Hafez.
The Arrival Shaun Tan
Page from the wordless comics The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and while productions were well underway, performances couldn’t be presented live anymore for obvious safety reasons. Early March, students were asked to film and edit their performances as video footages so that their works could be screened online. On Wednesday March 26 in a virtual classroom, our 40 students introduced and displayed their video performances which were evaluated and commented by songwriter, performer and former [Performing Arts] CommArts student, Namtarn Jinwara (KhopKhunKhrap!) and yours truly.

I am really proud of these works, sometimes created under unexpected COVID-related logistic constraints. The brave team of exchange students -while scattered throughout the world to reach safely their native countries- managed to create an imaginative piece on their way home or while held in quarantine facilities… Below, you can discover film stills from the students’ projects, but also some of the actual performance videos. Here are the numerous choreographies, but also some creative short drama films, which sadly -and timely- echo the ongoing and future displacements of refugees caused by Climate Change, COVID-19 and other crises. Ajarn Nicolas Verstappen


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Film still from the refugee performance video Hope of Dawn by students Pim, Pranang and Milk [with performers from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University]. A journey from Syria (contemporary dance) to Germany (ballet).
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Film still from the refugee performance video Hope of Dawn by students Pim, Pranang and Milk [with performers from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University]. A journey from Syria (contemporary dance) to Germany (ballet).


Film still from the refugee performance video by students Paar, Palmmy and Tukta
Click on pic to launch video.

Z 05
Film still from the refugee performance video Disconnected by students Ben, Eve, Frongki, Pecky and Plai


Z 08
Film still from the refugee performance video Lost Boy by students Gam, Ink and Por [with perfomer Cathrin Ballmer]

Z 01
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Beam, Eye, Jean and Rika
Click on pic to launch video.

Z 02
Film still from the refugee performance video Life of a Little Refugee by students Bee, Fay, France, May and Mine


 
Z 03
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Earth, June, Lily, Praew and Prim
Click on pic to launch video.

Z 04
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Boat [perfomer], Jinny, Pop and Smile
Click on pic to launch video.

Z 06
Film still from the refugee performance video by exchange students Alexandra, Meg, Núria and Pure
Click on pic to launch video.

ZZ 07
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Ellie, Ice [performer], Nam, Nanz and Pin
Z 07
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Ellie, Ice [performer], Nam, Nanz and Pin
Click on pic to launch video.

ZZ 09b
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Paar, Palmmy and Tukta
 
Z 09
Film still from the refugee performance video by students Paar, Palmmy and Tukta

FURTHER COMMENTS

Namtarn’s comments and mine were usually revolving on issues of clarity and meaning. Some performances could have been made more engaging and relatable through the narrative and recurring use of simple objects [as in the Dardenne brothers’ films] or indentifiable gestures developed as motifs. Another point was the lack of “feeling of space” which might be a crucial element in refugee narratives (belonging, borders, in-between…). Most performers move through wide empty rooms and one reason is, of course, related to COVID-19 constraints: most teams couldn’t find a safe, fitting and available location for the shooting. Yet, as we discussed during the session, there were some simple options. I mentioned the German Expressionist films‘ painted set designs which could be emulated with some black and white paints on cardboards.

   Another reference provided was the set design of Lars von Trier’s 2003 feature film Dogville. Bold white lines on the floor may end up being quite effective.

Questions were also raised about production as I felt some works were slighlty too slick, sometimes missing the roughness of the refugee experience. On the other hand, some students were concerned that the quality of their videos had been impaired by production problems caused by the COVID crisis. I mentioned that improvisation and DIY approaches actually benefited the production; and I mentioned the DIY aesthetic of French director Michel Gondry on numerous music videos and movies, and mostly his lesser-known 2008 Be Kind Rewind feature film. Some excerpts were screened: The Chemical Brothers’ Let Forever Be MV, The White Stripes’ The Hardest Button to Button MV,  Massive Attack’s Protection MV or Björk’s classic Bachelorette MV.  

As a conclusion, I mentioned that all performance videos had a grim and dark tone and that other approaches were possible. Thinking about a Martin Parr aesthetic, I mentioned Dario Fau’s colorful and caustic music video Dégueulasse by Caballero and JeanJass. But all in all, I’m a #ProudAjarn, as I was so impressed by the involvement and dedication of my students on this meaningful project in a time where the fate of refugees is even more thrown into jeopardy, and invisibilized in the main news outlets. Ajarn Nicolas Verstappen 


END CREDIT
I’m feeling relieved you didn’t state the opposite. ;^) Love you too! Stay safe!

“Thai Consent”, guest talk & traumics composition

Bangkok, 11 February 2020. This semester for the “Imaginative Media: [How to Tell the Unutterable]” course at the Faculty of Communication Arts (Chulalongkorn University), our distinguished guest is khun Nana Wipaphan Wongsawang, founder of the Thai Consent platform which aims at providing [testimonial and illustrated] references for victims of sexual abuse who need useful materials to understand themselves better. An inspiring & challenging talk on the critical issues of sexual abuse, rape culture, consent and representation. After studying the mechanisms of Psychic Trauma and its depictions in tv series, movies, choreographies or graphic novels, our students will compose trauma-related short comics [or #Traumics] on sexual abuse, and will present them to khun Nana in a month. Later, students will also propose various [innovative] campaign ideas to promote & support the Thai Consent platform.
Also on FaceBook: Thai Consent
Thank you/merci/khopkhunkhrap khun Nana!

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Khun Nana Wipaphan Wongsawang, founder of the Thai Consent platform, with the students of the International Program in Communication Management, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Khun Nana Wipaphan Wongsawang, founder of the Thai Consent platform, discussing issues of representation.

A Refugee’s Journey: Adapting Nick Sousanis’ “Grid and Gestures”

During the second lesson of the “Imaginative Communication” course [a Comparative Media course in which we explore the theme “To Say the Unutterable” by analyzing and comparing the depiction of Psychic Trauma in various visual media, from comics to animated & live-action movies, tv series or choreographies], I asked my Thai & exchange students at the Faculty of Communication Arts (Chulalongkorn University) to do the “Grid and Gestures” exercise developed by Nick Sousanis, professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University, and author of the groundbreaking comics dissertation Unflattening published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

[Course: Imgt Comm, 2800217, International Program, CommArts, Chulalongkorn University, 20 January 2020, with 35 students]

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Above and below: CommArts students at work on the “Grid and Gestures” exercise

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The purpose statement for the exercise provided by Nick Sousanis is as follows:

 “So here’s how to think about Grids & Gestures. Quickly, have a look at your ceiling tiles or other grid-ish things around you. If you then imagine putting these features to music, you might have regular long notes on the tiles, some shorter notes, and maybe rapid staccato beats on a ventilation grill. Ok, now come back to a comics page – and think about the idea that in comics, time is written in space. Comics are static – and it’s in the way we organize the space that we can convey movement and the passage of time. Unlike storyboards, to which comics are frequently compared, in comics we care not only about what goes on in the frame, but we care about the size of the panel, its shape, orientation, what it’s next to, what it’s not, and its overall location within the page composition. The way you orchestrate these elements on the page is significant to the meaning conveyed – there are some strong correspondences between comics and architecture in terms of thinking about the way the entire space operates together.

Having briefly thought about this, I want you to take a single sheet of paper (any size, shape will do) and drawing with a pencil or pen, carve it up in some grid-esque fashion that represents the shape of your day. It can be this day, a recent day, a memorable day, or a typical/amalgamation day. And then inhabit these spaces you’ve drawn on the page with lines, marks, or gestures that represent your activity or emotional state during those times represented. The emphasis here is to do your best to not draw things. (You can always do that later!) And also, you can leave space blank on your page – but that has to mean something. This isn’t writing where you can finish a final sentence mid-page. Every inch of the composition is important in comics – so be aware of that as well. Finally, when I do this in class or with groups, I give people about 5-10 minutes to do it, so they have to make decisions quickly. Try to give yourself a similar limit.”

Nick Sousanis (excerpted from this page)

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Above: CommArts student at work on the “Grid and Gestures” exercise

Nanz 01
“Grid and Gestures” by Thai student Nanz. Description: “(1) I wake up late so I started the page with the cloud shape which refers to my dream. Then I have to hurry to take a shower and prepare myself to go to the University. I go to university by BTS [skytrain] and the station is crowded. When I arrive at the station near the campus, I notice that the sky is gloomy. (2) Suddenly, it starts raining. I’m stuck at the station and I’m worried I’ll be late in class. Moreover, I’m hungry since I forgot to eat something this morning. I have to figure out the way to reach my Faculty on time. I try to book a Grab taxi but there is no response. I have to walk under the rain to try to catch a taxi. (3) Finally, I reach the Faculty and I’m in class on time. When the course is finished, I come back home and take a shower. Before going to bed, I watch a movie on Netflix. Then I go to sleep. :)”


Adapting the exercise to depict a refugee’s journey

After this first exercise was completed, I asked the students to draw a second “Grids and Gestures” page but, instead of depicting a personal day/travel/experience, they had to draw the perilous travel of Syrian refugee Rania Mustafa Ali, 20, who had filmed her journey from the ruins of Kobane in Syria to Austria.

“Her footage shows what many refugees face on their perilous journey to Europe. Rania is cheated by smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border. She risks drowning in the Mediterranean, travelling in a boat meant to hold 15 people but stuffed with over 50. Those with disabilities are carried across raging rivers and muddy fields in their wheelchairs.” (The Guardian).

During the 22′ footage, some students drew the “Grids and Gestures” of Rania as her narrative was unfolding while other students preferred to take some notes and draw Rania’s grid right after the end of the film.

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Students watching, drawing and/or taking notes during the projection of Rania’s footage.

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Student Paar drawing Rania’s “Grid and Gestures” during the projection.

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Student drawing Rania’s “Grid and Gestures” during the projection.


The outcome has been positive as students focused [more than usual] their attention on the emotions and struggles experienced by the refugees, trying to capture Rania’s emotional states, and discovering -as they were drawing on a limited space- the physicality and volume of incessant ups-and-downs (hopeful/hopeless…) and turns of events (wait/treks/dead ends/returns) faced during these precarious and usually dramatic odysseys. I’ll try to find time to study the results of this experiment in detail, and see if it tends to raise awareness/mindfulness (Sati/สติ) and empathy towards refugees. A promising exercise.


Here are some of the “grids and gestures” depicting the journey of Syrian refugee Rania Mustafa Ali and composed by CommArts students:

Nanz 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Nanz.

Palmmy 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Palmmy.

Rika 02
Ranias’s journey by Japanese student Rika.

Paar 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Paar.

Meg 02
Ranias’s journey by Dutch exchange student Meg.

Por 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Por.

Ink 02

Ranias’s journey by Thai student Ink.

Pure 02
Ranias’s journey by Japanese exchange student Pure.

 

#ToSomeExtentChallenge

#ToSomeExtentChallenge: in-class creative assignment (“Introduction to Communication” course), at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand) on Monday 13, 2020; the 46 fresh.wo.men were asked to create -in teams of 2 or 3 participants- a graphic narrative within an imposed L-shaped layout, and to consider the spatialization of the narrative elements. Duration: 60′.

The constrained comics exercise was developed for the first “student” edition of the international comics residency-lab at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux on January 2019. The L-shaped layout is based on two comic strips dating from 1895 & 1905 (see below) found on the website Töpfferiana.


Idylle Lucy L-shape
Inspiration: two comic strips dating from 1895 & 1905 (see below) found on the website Töpfferiana.

CommDe fresh.wo.men @ work!


YL 3

YL 7

YL 2

YL 4

YL 6

YL 5

YL 1


And if you want to play with us, here are the 4 different layouts (with 4 or 5 panels).

Click on the layouts for larger sizes:

To Some Extent 4b

To Some Extent 4a

To Some Extent 5bTo Some Extent 5a

#UltraVioletChallenge – Part 2

The inaugural post explaining the constraints of the #UltraVioletChallenge exercise is available HERE.

For this post, I wanted to display results by students who never pursued any drawing formation. The 3rd and 4th Year Performing Arts students of my “Imaginative Media” course accepted the challenge, and the results are again interesting and varied… and fun!

#UltraVioletChallenge: “Making Sense of Signs (and Fragments)” in-class creative assignment (“Imaginative Media” course, Thai Program, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University); create a figurative comics based on an imposed abstract comics (duration: 90′). Based on a constrained comics exercise used at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux international comics residency-lab.

 

Imposed abstract comics page #UltraVioletChallenge
Imposed abstract comics page #UltraVioletChallenge

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Day and Prang.

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Mean and Save.

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Mui, Kitty and Dome.

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Kay and Mew.

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Gene and Yongyong.

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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Coon, Earth and June.

 

“The Smurfette Principle” and “Whitewashing in Film” topics in Knowledge Comics form by Chulalongkorn students

The Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film topics in Knowledge Comics form; group assignment following the lesson on Critical Tradition (Introduction to Communication Studies GenEd course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts) and the lesson on Multimodal Narratives (Visual Media Studies GenEd course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts) hosted by the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University).

Smurf Belgium Thailand
“2018 not only celebrates 150 years of Thai-Belgian friendship, it is also the 60th anniversary of the Smurfs,” the small blue human-like creatures who were first introduced in the Belgian comics series titled Johan et Pirlouit (translated to English as Johan and Peewit) in 1958 by Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992]. The Smurfs have been selected as the icon of the Thai-Belgian friendship celebration.

On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Friendship between Belgium and Thailand and after introducing the Belgo-Palombian character Marsupilami in graphic narratives to denounce a case of black panther poaching in Thailand (see students’ comics HERE), students were invited to revisit another famous -and much scrutinized- Belgian comics character: Smurfette (or Schtroumpfette in the original version)!

Thai (and foreign) Chulalongkorn students from the two courses mentioned above were asked to create short graphic narratives (2 to 4 pages) on imposed topics related to the Critical Tradition which challenges “the control of language to perpetuate power imbalances by exploring the way communication establishes, reinforces and maintains power structures in society” (see Denis McQuail, McQuail’s Reader in Mass Communication Theory, Sage Publishing, 2002). With a vast majority of Asian and female students in my courses, the Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film topics seemed to be appropriate and meaningful choices. The latter topic addresses the under-representation of minorities in the media, and more specifically the Hollywoodian habit of casting white actors to play non-white characters while disregarding the -mostly comics- source material (see articles by Steve Rose and Keith Chow). Infamous recent examples include Tilda Swinton casted as a Himalayan mystic in Doctor Strange, Emma Stone casted as a Chinese-Hawaiian character in Aloha, Scarlett Johansson playing a Japanese cyborg in the live-action feature Ghost in the Shell, or British actor Ed Skrein who decided to step down from his (half-Japanese) Ben Daimio’s role in the upcoming reboot of Hellboy. Criticism on cultural appropriation and whitewashing has also been raised towards Wes Anderson’s latest feature Isle of Dogs (see here).

“In its original sense, ‘whitewashing’ meant covering or cleaning something up. In today’s cultural landscape, it is a stain that won’t rub off. Now, ‘whitewashing’ describes the habit of casting white actors to play non-white characters, often to shoehorn in a star, sometimes out of racial insensitivity, invariably to the detriment of people (and especially actors) of colour.” Steve Rose in “The idea that it’s good business is a myth’ – why Hollywood whitewashing has become toxic”, The Guardian (source), 2017.

Dadu Shin WhiteWashing
Illustration by Dadu Shin for “Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?”, The New York Times (source), 2016.

In line with the Feminist Critical Tradition which criticizes communication content and practices that perpetuate patriarchal hierarchies and ideologies, The Smurfette Principle was coined and defined by poet and essayist Katha Pollitt in 1991 in the New York Times as a practice in fiction to include only one stereotypical female character in an otherwise all-male cast (see quote below).

“The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.” Katha Pollitt in “Hers; The Smurfette Principle”, The New York Times (source), 1991.

Smurfette attributed to Peyo
Original artwork attributed to Belgian cartoonist Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992].

 If Katha Pollitt bases her criticism on the Smurfs animated TV series, the Smurfette character was first introduced in Peyo’s A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette serialized in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium) in 1966 and written by Yvan Delporte [1928-2007] and Peyo [Pierre Culliford; 1928-1992]. The Smurfette was created from clay by evil wizard Gargamel in order to launch a feud in the all-male Smurf village. The recipe’s ingredients (see Fig. 2; “Sugar and spice, but nothing nice… A dram of crocodile tears… A peck of bird brain…”, etc.) used by the wizard present themselves as an appalling and misogynistic list of personalilty traits. Let’s point here that the recipe is accompanied by an asterisk leading to a footnote (see Fig.1 ). In the French edition (but I don’t know if the footnote was already in the first serialized publication), the footnote reads “This text only represents the views of the author of the grimoire ‘Magicae Formulae’, Beelzebub Publishing” (my translation). The 1976 English further relieves Delporte and Peyo of any responsibilities which are rejected on the “Male Chauvinist Pig Wizards” Incorporation…

Male Chauvinist Pig Wizards
Figure 1. Footnotes accompanying the French and 1976 English editions of A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette.

Nevertheless, the Smurfette’s origin story raises more criticism. Smurfette first appears with unruly black hair, a large nose, basic dress and slippers (see Fig. 3). Feeling miserable because of her physical appearance and lack of attractiveness, she undergoes an “operation of plastic smurfery ” [sic] at the hands of Papa Smurf to become a blonde Smurfette -inspired by French actress Brigitte Bardot- with shortened nose, curled eyelashes, gown and high heels; she is now “one of a kind, full of feminine grace and frivolous. She can also be very much a woman, playing with the feelings of her sweethearts” (from Smurfette’s official bio quoted in Jason Richards’ The Problem With Smurfette). Turned into an “object of desire” and with stereotypical feminine personality traits, Smurfette -and the male Smurfs themselves by competing for her attention- will bring even more trouble in the village soon to be flooded. Let’s add, to be fair, that Delporte and Peyo do not depict the male Smurfs from their best angle either; they do not save the day (except for the more tempered Papa Smurf) and are made laughable -and “identical”- by their hazardous and idiotic behaviour.

Smurfette 12
Figure 2. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, page 12, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis

Smurfette 13
Figure 3. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, page 13, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis

Smurfette 28 29
Figure 4. A Smurf Adventure: The Smurfette by Peyo, 3 last tiers of page 28 and 2 first tiers of page 29, written by Yvan Delporte and Peyo, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1976. First serialized in French in 1966 in Spirou magazine (Dupuis, Belgium). ©Peyo/IMPS/ Dupuis

The character of Smurfette evolved positively -albeit quite slowly- over the past decade; becoming the leader of the Smurf village in the 2010 adventure La Grande Schtroumpfette, or an airplane pilot on the outside paint job of some Brussels Airlines’ Airbus A320.

Smurfette brussels airlines
Smurfette as an airplane pilot on a Brussels Airlines’ Airbus A320.

The imposed format was “knowledge (or educational) comics” in order to explore the ability of text/image (multimodal) narratives to condense and convey a large amount of information in a limited space of only a few pages. See quote below.

“Just like diagrams, info-graphics, and other forms of science visualizations, comics use words and pictures to convey information, however they also divide the information into panels [McCloud, 1994] which can facilitate the reading experience and highlight important information, such as parts and processes [Mayer and Gallini, 1990]. Furthermore, comics not only break down the information into more digestible units but can also reassemble them into meaningful compositions […]. As summarized by comic scholar and educator Nick Sousanis: “the spatial interplay of sequential and simultaneous, imbues comics with a dual nature — both tree-like, hierarchical and rhizomatic, interwoven in a single form” [Sousanis, 2015]. In other words, comics can be read linearly, panel by panel, but also lend themselves to non-linear explanations, encouraging the reader to constantly reassess earlier panels in the light of new information. Similarly, science often requires readers to make connections between multiple scales and domains of knowledge, not necessarily arranged in a hierarchical, linear order. In conclusion, while comics are often perceived as an easy and playful format, they may be exquisitely suited at presenting complex information in a rigorous yet accessible way.” Matteo Farinella, “The Potential of Comics in Science Communication”, in JCom Journal of Science Communication 17/1 (source), 2018.

Examples of “knowledge comics” provided to the students included the excellent series La Petite Bédéthèque des Savoirs (Le Lombard, Belgium) which presents itself as “pocket-sized hardcover educational books on subjects as varied as artificial intelligence, sharks, heavy metal, and the history of prostitution. Each volume in the series is written and drawn by a different writer and artist pair. Internationally-renowned experts in the fields work with comics luminaries for a unique alchemy every time” (source). Some volumes are available in English by IDW Publishing under the series title “The Little Book of Knowledge”. Other references were Nick Sousanis’ doctoral dissertation in comics form Unflattening, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon.


The Smurfette Principle and Whitewashing in Film Knowledge Comics by Chula students

Chichi 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Chichi 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Chichi 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Grace, Chichi, Ping, Pang and Nene. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Noey 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Noey 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Noey 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year BALAC student Noey (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Taew 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/2) by 4th year BALAC students Taew and Petch (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Taew 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/2) by 4th year BALAC students Taew and Petch (BALAC: Program in Language and Culture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

 

Daria 01
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year INDA student Daria Dmitrieva (INDA: International Program in Design and Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

Daria 02
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year INDA student Daria Dmitrieva (INDA: International Program in Design and Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University). November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

 

 

Tung 01
“The Smurfette Principle” comics (page 1/2) by 3rd year CommDe students Tung, Tee, Mint and Mean. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Tung 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/2) by 3rd year CommDe students Tung, Tee, Mint and Mean. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Fern 01
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.

Fern 02
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.

Fern 03
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Fern, Pun, Oom, Bank and Lukpear. March 2018.

Joy 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Joy 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Joy 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Joy, Plye, Sunny and Nana. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Ploy 01
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.

Ploy 02
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.

Ploy 03
“Whitewashing in Film” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Aom (P), Ploy, Mim, Mind and Tang. March 2018.

Shi 01
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. NOTE: Panels 1 and 2 refer to Jeffery P. Dennis’ 2003 essay Queertoons: The dynamics of same-sex desire in the animated cartoon where the author states that the Smurfette “was introduced specifically to provide an object for the Smurfs’ heterosexual desire and defuse conjectures that they might be ‘really’ gay”. This claim has been subjected to criticism. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Shi 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Shi 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 1st year CommDe students Shi, Kris, Aom, Wakako and Gem. March 2018. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Natt 01

Natt 02
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 1/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Natt 03
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 2/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.

Natt 04
“The Smurfette Principle” Knowledge Comics (page 3/3) by 3rd year CommDe students Natt, Cartoon, Nich and Champ. November 2017. Based on the Smurfette character created by Peyo; and Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle.


The Smurfette origin (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation…).

Prim 01
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.

Prim 02
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.

Prim 03
“The Smurfette Origin” Comics (exploring elements from the Semiotics lessons: symbol, icon, connotation; and with a nod to Ibn al Rabin’ silent comics), page 1/3, by 1st year CommDe students Prim, Proud, Pauline, Pop and Suang. March 2018. Based on characters created by Peyo.


A satirical take on the Smurfette Principle starring Pepper Potts and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).

Eve 01
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 1/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Eve 02
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 2/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Eve 03
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 3/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Eve 04
“The Smurfette Principle” satirical comics (page 4/4) by 1st year CommDe students Byrd, Eve, Bask, Fahsai and Mild. March 2018. Based on the Tony Stark/Iron Man character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and on the Virginia “Pepper” Potts character created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

 

 

#VforVersion(s): alteration of foreign language text in a transformative constrained comics exercise

#VforVersion(s); alteration of imposed comics pages in foreign language -to the participants- (German edition of British creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd‘s V for Vendetta, and original edition of French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim‘s Psychanalyse) by partial deletion with white-out liquid of textual elements -such as sentences, words, letters or letter parts- to form a new text in English language which would be consistent with the unaltered pictorial sequence.

V02 copy
Fig 1. A. – Tier from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). B. – Tier from the 2003 German edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. C. – Same tier of the German edition but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai student Mon to form English words and sentences. D. – Same tier as before but with Mon’s selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Credits: V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd.

1. Introduction

April 2018. The 62 students of the Creative Writing for Printed Matter course (sections 10 and 11; “Graphic Writing”) at the International Program (BA) in Communication Management (Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok , Thailand) were provided with a series of imposed comics pages excerpted from the 2003 German edition of V for Vendetta (1 to 3 pages depending on section), of the 1996 edition of Lewis Trondheim‘s Psychanalyse (2 consecutive pages in French language), and of the American edition of the ongoing manga series Sunny by Japanese cartoonist Taiyō Matsumoto (2 consecutive pages).

“Ajarn [teacher], where do you find all the ideas you torture us with every week?”

Student Gam during the in-class assignment. Answer: Oupus series, OuBapo FB page, and my tortuous mind.

Winsor McCay Melissa Eddings Mancuso.jpg
A remarkable example of white-out text alteration by Melissa Eddings Mancuso for Matt Madden’s online course about constraints for The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In a comic strip from the series Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (launched in 1904) by Silas (aka Winsor McCay), Melissa “looked for names of body parts in the original dialogue and then simply whited out the other letters,” providing us with instant poetry.

Under a “transformative constraint (which alter existing works)” students -in teams of 2 to 5 participants- were asked to do a partial alteration of the written texts, by erasing/covering with white-out liquid some textual element in order to form new sentences which would be consistent with the unaltered pictorial sequence. Additionally, students had to compose English (words and) sentences by respecting the order of appearance of the selected letters (or groups of letters). The most painstaking -if not painful- aspect of the exercise was related to the pages in German and French languages, two foreign languages that participating Thai and exchange students do not speak. If text alteration constraints aren’t new in Literature or Comics Art (see Lettrism, Tom Phillips, blackout poetry, cut-up techniqueTNT en Amérique by Jochen Gerner [Fig 2], OuBaPo), the use of texts written in a language not spoken by the participant(s) seems to me less usual (as far as I know). The inability to understand the content of the foreign text and the constraint to propose an altered text in a mastered language (here English) are indeed quite a radical restrictions.

Text 04.jpg
Students Pat and Nymph whiting out fragments of text from imposed pages of Taiyō Matsumoto’s Sunny and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta to create new narratives.

Even if German, French and English languages share the same Roman script (with sometimes additional letters) and if they share numerous cognates (or words with a common etymological origin) as neighboring Indo-European languages, these cognates have taken different forms (such as “colleague” in English, “collègue” in French and “Kollege” in German). Unable to use cognates (or false cognates or false friends) unless sharing identical spellings, participants are thus forced to compose English words (and sentences) with smallest units of writings like graphemes or syllables (or digraphs or larger groups of successive letters). In the first illustration (Fig 1), student Mon was forced to the radical alteration of the German sentence “Den Zorn, der Feuer vom Himmel regnen liess.“(Fig 1B; That Wrath which did rain fire from the Heavens) to compose the English clause “No lie” (Fig 1 C, D). Participants also came to appreciate (sigh) the different ratios of vowels and consonants, as well as the different frequencies of letters and syllables, in German, French and English languages… Students noted the low frequency of the vowel ⟨o⟩ in German (2.594%) compared to French (5.796%) and English (7.507%). Consequently, the newly formed English sentences tended to be quite short. Using V’s theatrical tirades (and Alan Moore’s verbose writing) was truly convenient in this regard. Let’s note here that the high frequency of the vowel ⟨e⟩ and ⟨d⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨t⟩) in French language will be put to good use by students Por and Jean in their hilarious story “DOT” altering pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse (see Fig 5). Accidentally and to the delight of the French speakers, the two students ended their narrative on an English-French false friend word (and within the purest Lewis Trondheim tradition). Quite a revealing slip of the pen, would have said Freud and Lacan.

Text 07
Students Belle, Fame and Prim whiting out fragments of text from imposed pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse, Taiyō Matsumoto’s Sunny and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta to create new narratives.

The two main objectives of this exercise under radical restriction were: first, to prevent the participants from relying to much on familiar words and clauses that could be used without much alteration; second: to ensure that the altered text would be a complete creation with a new set of meanings, not influenced by the original content of the written text (as its meaning isn’t understood by the participants who don’t speak the language in which it is written) but mostly by their own interpretation of the visual sequences they are imposed with. The accompanying visual sequence is an additional productive constraint which led to the selection of possible themes and story-lines. The alteration of the comics pages excerpted from Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse -a proto-OuBaPian comics itself using the constraint of iconic iteration applied to only two different panels (see below)- was in this respect less productive; the minimal visual “context” complicated the selection of a theme or concept (within the allocated time). However, it led to the brilliant “DOT” story by students Por and Jean (see Fig 5). The challenge was, as I said, painstaking -if not painful at times (sorry, kiddos!)- but the resulting pages were worth the effort, filled with comics poetry -if not Poetic Justice- and concert tickets for AC/DC (see Fig 20)…

Additional comments on the constraints:

  • The choice of V for Vendetta pages was made for several reasons: first, as a nod to the Master Class held two years ago during this course by V for Vendetta‘s co-creator and artist David Lloyd; second, the pleasure to enjoy his starck chiaroscuro technique with masterful use of negative spaces, third; to make the use of Alan Moore’s verbose script in the process of extended deletion of text; fourth, because the graphic novel V for Vendetta is sadly as relevant now than it was then, moreover in current Thai context.
  • Time limit for the in-class assignment was 3 hours for section 10’s teams (with all three V for Vendetta pages to be altered) and 2 hours for section 11’s teams (with only one V for Vendetta page to be altered).
  • As mentioned earlier, many letters are not as frequent in German or in French as in English. To alleviate their suffering, students were allowed to tamper with some letterforms but only by reduction (deletion/erasing). The leg of ⟨K⟩ could be white out to form a ⟨Y⟩; same goes for ⟨R⟩ turned into a ⟨P⟩ (or even a ⟨D⟩). The diagonal stroke of ⟨Z⟩ was turned in a typographical slash (to form the slash in AC/DC). ⟨E⟩ could become ⟨I⟩ or ⟨L⟩ or ⟨F⟩; ⟨N⟩ turned into ⟨V⟩; or “NV” into ⟨W⟩ with erasure of the first stroke and some stretch of closure. Digraphs could be transformed into punctuation marks, such as “TR” into an ellipsis (“…”).

TNT en Amérique
Fig 2. Left: page from Tintin en Amérique (Tintin in America) by Hergé. Right: radical reduction (with only fragments of the original text remaining) of the Tintin page by Jochen Gerner for TNT en Amérique“.

“The main interest for me of the comic strip is the infinite possible links between text and image : a system of representation continually confronting , in a kind of alchemy, text and picture . This is the field I endeavour to explore on my own or with OuBaPo (Ouvroir de Bande dessinée Potentielle).
The idea ‘TNT en Amérique’ sprang from these remarks with OuBaPo, from exercises, experiments. I try to find new reading perspectives. I dismantle a given material to make something else of it.” Jochen Gerner (source).

  • The use of logograms was also allowed. With ⟨N’⟩ for “and”, ⟨C⟩ for “see”, ⟨U⟩ for “you”, ⟨R⟩ for “are”, etc. Usage of slang was permitted too. The slang shortnening “Da” for “the” was accepted as well as “De” for “the” as it remained consistent with the accent of a German character (see Fig 3: A.B. Frost‘s comics, #VforVomans!).
  • Lewis Trondheim’s handwriting in Psychanalyse tended to complicate the browsing of the text to find usable graphemes and words. However, some ambiguous handwritten letterforms were put at good use with some ⟨O⟩ used as ⟨D⟩ (or conversely), ⟨U⟩ as ⟨V⟩, or ⟨L⟩ as ⟨C⟩.
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE [sic]. We do apologize for the use of graphic language in the resulting pages, but the high frequency of the letters ⟨F⟩, ⟨U⟩, ⟨K⟩, ⟨C⟩ or ⟨B⟩, ⟨I⟩, ⟨T⟩, ⟨H⟩ in German language led to the formation of some English swear words; that’s explanation I’ve decided to provide anyway… And yes, “underwear” was spelled “underware” (see Fig 22), because it’s how I pronounce it with my French accent, I guess… #PoeticLicense #PardonMyFrench #Sic

AB Frost 1
Fig 3. #VforVomans! American cartoonist A. B. Frost’s first comic: a German attempts to pronounce English-language “th” phoneme. “De man, dis horse, dose vomans!” In: Harper’s News Monthly, December 1879.


2. Results for Psychanalyse

Note on Psychanalyse. In the pages of his minicomic series ACCI H3319 self-published between 1988 and 1990, then-debuting French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim produced comic strips and single-page comics narratives relying only on the repetition of a photocopied single panel or a highly limited set of different panels. For instance, in the series of strips collected under the title Psychanalyse [Psychoanalysis] (by Le Lézard Noir, and later by L’Association), each comics page is built only with 4 different panels -but duplicated and arranged following the constraint of “iconic iteration”- presenting, in close-up, the minimalist depiction of a patient discussing with his psychiatrist (kept off-panel). Our transformative constrained exercise is thus applied to comics pages built themselves on proto-OuBaPian productive constraints.

Psy 00
Fig 4. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Two imposed consecutive pages (in French language) of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse.

Psy Jean Por Ping
Fig 5. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Same pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai students Por and Jean to form English words and sentences. Their “DOT” comics, accidentally and to the delight of the French speakers, ends on an English-French false friend word (and within the purest Lewis Trondheim tradition). “Bite” usually defines the “use the teeth to cut into something” in English, but can be a (vulgar) synonym of “penis” in French language. Quite a revealing slip of the pen, would say Freud and Lacan.

Psy ERIN.jpg
Fig 6. CLICK ON THE PIC TO ENLARGE. Same pages of Lewis Trondheim’s Psychanalyse but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai students Erin, Misha, PingPing, Tanya and PunPun to form English words and sentences.


3. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 1)

V01
Fig 7. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.

V00
Fig 8. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V Mon 01
Fig 9. Same page of the German edition of V for Vendetta but with partial alteration (elements of the text are whited out) by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X) to form English words and sentences.

V MON DEF
Fig 10. Same altered V for Vendetta page from the German edition but with Mon’s selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V NYMPH DEF
Fig 11. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Nymph (and her teammate Pat). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V VICKY DEF
Fig 12. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Vicky (with exchange student Marin). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V TONG DEF
Fig 13. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Tong, French Fries, Grace and Pim. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V NOINAE DEF
Fig 14. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Noinae, Paan and Boss. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

NOTE: more resulting altered pages of this first excerpt are displayed at the end of this post.


4. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 2)

V11
Fig 15. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.

V10
Fig 16. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V2 NYMPH DEF
fig 18. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Nymph (and her teammate Pat). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V2 POON DEF
Fig 19. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V2 FRENCH FRIES DEF
Fig 20. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student French Fries (and her teammates Tong, Grace and Pim). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

“[V trying to get tickets for] an AC/DC concert: believable. Convincing scenario is essential in any storytelling…”

David Lloyd, V for Vendetta co-creator and artist, commenting on the previous page altered by student French Fries.

V2 MON DEF
Fig 21. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V2 NOINAE DEF
Fig 22. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Noinae, Paan and Boss. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.


 

5. Results for V for Vendetta (excerpt 3)

V12
Fig 23. Page from the 1988 American color collected edition of V for Vendetta by DC Comics/Vertigo (original text). V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art) with colors by Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Doods and David Lloyd. Compilation ©2005 DC Comics.

V13 .jpg
Fig 24. Same page but from the 2003 German collected edition of V for Vendetta (V wie Vendetta) by Speed Comics, with black and white pages as serialized in the 1982 original British edition. V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V3 DEF
Fig 25. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

 

V3 MON DEF.jpg
Fig 26. Same V for Vendetta page from the German edition, altered by Thai student Mon (and his teammates Tap, Ik, Golf and X). With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.


6. Results for Sunny

Sun 01
Fig 27. Two successive pages excerpted from the manga series Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

Sun 05 POON
Fig 28. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Poon (P), Poon (K) and Win. Based onSunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

Sun 03 FAME
Fig 29. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Fame, Belle, Lukkaew and Prim. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

Sun 02 EERNG
Fig 30. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Misha, Erin, PingPing, Tanya and PunPun. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

Sun 04 GAM
Fig 31. Same Sunny pages, with text alteration by Thai students Gam, Mint (Si), Tip and Golf. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media

“When Por told me her concept, I said: ‘Por, this is an idea to get us a F’.”

Student Jean about the following altered narrative; a bold move indeed…

Sun 04 POR
Fig 32. Same Sunny pages (here starting with left page), with (bold) text alteration by Thai students Por and Jean. Based on Sunny (volume 2) by Taiyō Matsumoto. ©2013 Matsumoto/Viz Media


7. More altered pages (“V”)

V ART 00 DEF
Fig 33. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Art, Mark, Junior and Book. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V ERIN DEF
Fig 34. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Erin, Misha, PunPun, Earn, Tanya and PingPing. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V GAM DEF
Fig 35. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Gam, Mint (Si), Tip and Golf. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.

V PRIM DEF.jpg
Fig 36. V for Vendetta page from the German edition (see original above), altered by Thai students Lukkaew, Prim, Fame and Belle. With selected letters and words reassembled for ease of reading. Based on V for Vendetta, co-created by Alan Moore (script) and David Lloyd (artist), DC Comics/Vertigo.


“I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die. This is too complicated, Ajarn [teacher]. I’m gonna die.”

Student Noinae during the in-class assignment.

#LetMeSeeYourEyes text substitution constrained comics exercise

 #LetMeSeeYourEyes; substituting the dialogue of a comics/manga page with imposed lines excerpted from Norwegian cartoonist Jason‘s Why Are You Doing This? (Fantagraphics, 2005; Editions Carabas, 2004, for original French version).

BLURB!

“Great idea for an exercise (the source is impeccable, of course!). The examples work really well, and the Peanuts page shows how this principle can be expanded on and could even be used for a book-length work made up of quotes, borrowed page layouts, mash-ups, etc.” Matt Madden (February 17, 2018), cartoonist and teacher best known for his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Penguin), as well as a member of Oubapo (Workshop for Potential Comics), and later a French knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

January 2018. The sixty-two (3rd and 4th year) students in the Creative Writing for Printed Matter course (sections 10 and 11; “Graphic Writing”) at the International Program (BA) in Communication Management (Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok , Thailand) were provided with a series of imposed lines excerpted from Jason’s comics Why Are You Doing This?: “So… Did you do it? / Sorry? / Was it you who killed that man earlier today? / No. No, it wasn’t. / Let me see your eyes. / All right. Follow me.” After being shown an example (Tintin in Tibet; see below) and as a home assignment, students were given one week to find a comics/manga page in which the dialogue might fit -with the least possible alteration- by substitution.

“The function of relay is less common (at least as far as the fixed image is concerned); it can be seen particularly in cartoons and comic strips. Here text (most often a snatch of dialogue) and image stand in a complementary relationship; the words, in the same way as the images, are fragments of a more general syntagm [sequence of linguistic units] and the unity of the message is realized at a higher level, that of the story, the anecdote, the diegesis […].” Roland Barthes, Rhetoric of the Image (translation S. Heath), in: Image, Music, Text, 1977.

Goals of this warm-up exercise; production of new comics pages by students without any particular artistic training; browsing of dozens of comics pages, and development of the  “image reading” skill by focusing students’ attention on visual motifs in pictures and sequences; development of multimodal literacy through the combination/confrontation of visual (drawings), aural (speech, tone), linguistic (delivery of both “written and spoken” text), gestural (facial expressions/body language/postures) and spatial (spatialisation of text & sequences of adjacent panels) modes; exploration of text/image relationship (anchorage/relay); to stress out the importance of eye contact in drama.

Inspired by a constrained comics page from American cartoonist Matt Madden‘s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005). And from Will Eisner‘s illustration of “facial postures with a parallel set of statements” (in Comics and Sequential Art). See below.

99 ways template and different image
Left: original template. Right: text from original template, but different images. From Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005)”.

EISNER facial expressions
“Expressive anatomy” in Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, page 110. Poorhouse Press, 1985. ©1985 Will Eisner.

 “[Comics] doesn’t blend the visual and the verbal – or use one simply to illustrate the other – but is rather prone to present the two non-synchronously; a reader of comics not only fills in the gaps between panels but also works with the often disjunctive back-and-forth of reading and looking for meaning.” Hillary Chute, “Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narrative”, in: PMLA, 123(2), 2008


WAYDT original
Page from Jason’s comics Why Are You Doing This? (Fantagraphics, 2005). Imposed lines for the exercise were excerpted from panels 6 to 12.

tibet subst original
Example provided to the students: original (half-) page of Tintin in Tibet by Hergé; before text substitution.

tibet subst Jason
Example provided to the students: (half-) page of Tintin in Tibet by Hergé after text substitution (by yours truly) of the imposed lines excerpted from Jason’s Why Are You Doing This?.

Commenting on  Gunther Kress’s Multimodality, Jacobs notes that linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, and spatial elements combine in comics narratives and that, “[taken] together, these elements form a multimodal system of meaning making.” (“More than Words: Comics as a Means of Teaching Multiple Literacies”, in: The English Journal, 96(3), 2007.


1. Text substitutions by CommArts students; without any order/speech balloon alteration (except for an additional ellipsis, or “…”, in a couple of pages)

00 SHERLOCK subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Mint (Sirivadee) in a page from the manga adaptation (Titan Comics) by mangaka Jay of the TV series Sherlock.

Sherlock Original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 POKEMON subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Golf (Sorasak) in a page from the manga Pokémon Adventures v.34 (VIZ Media) by mangaka Hidenori Kusaka (script) and Satoshi Yamamoto (art).

POKEMON Original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 ZITS subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Ben in a Zits comic strip by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman.

ZITS original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 CONAN subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Prim in a page from the manga Case Closed (or Detective Conan; VIZ Media) by mangaka Gosho Aoyama.

CONAN original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 DISNEY subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Erin in a page from the Disney fan comic, or doujinshi, Disney High School (featuring Rapunzel and Quasimodo as siblings) by Morloth88.

MODEL DISNEY
Original page.

00 UZUMAKI
Text substitution by CommArts student WIN in a page from the manga Uzumaki (VIZ Media) by mangaka Junji Ito.

UZUMAKI original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 ONE PIECE subst
Text substitution by CommArts (Taiwanese exchange) student Edd in a page from the manga One Piece (VIZ Media) by mangaka Eiichiro Oda.

One piece original
Scanlated page (before text substitution).

00 SIMPSON Subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Plawan in a page from the comics series Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror (Bongo Comics).

Simpson Original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 Batman bernet
Text substitution by CommArts student Yaiyaa (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from the comics Batman: Blackout (“1940’s Catwoman”, DC Comics, 2000) by Howard Chaykin (script) and Jordi Bernet (pencils).

Original Batman bernet
Original page (before text substitution).

00 Cyanide.jpg
Text substitution by CommArts student Mark in a strip from the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness (written and illustrated by Rob Den Bleyker, Kris Wilson, Dave McElfatrick and formerly Matt Melvin).

MODEL Cyanide
Original strip (before text substitution).


2. Text substitutions by CommArts students; respecting the order of the imposed lines but not their strict succession (distribution of the imposed lines before and after text  retained from the original comics page). 

00 SNOOPY Subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Por in a Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Retaining the two original speech ballons “Right” in panels 9 and 10.

Snoopy Original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 BONBONZAKA KOUKOU
Text substitution by CommArts student Sean in a page from the manga Bonbonzaka Koukou Engekibu (1992) by mangaka Takahashi Yutaka. Retaining the two original speech ballons “Damn” and “Da…” in panel 3.

MODEL BONBONZAKA KOUKOU
Original scanlation (before text substitution).

00 Mickey
Text substitution by a CommArts student (Graphic Writing, 2015) in a page from Mickey Mouse and the World to Come: The Sinking of Illusitania (Boom! Kids, 2010) by Andrea Castellan (aka Casty). Retaining various two original speech balloons.

Mickey Original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Nymph in a page from the manga Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii (It’s Difficult to Love an Otaku) by mangaka Fujita. Retaining various speech ballons, and adding an ellipsis (“…”).

Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii original
Original scanlation (before text substitution).

00 CEREAL
Text substitution by CommArts student Pat in a page from the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach WeinersmithRetaining various speech ballons.

Original Cereal copy
Original strip (before text substitution).

Was it you, comics
Text substitution by CommArts student Boss in a page from the comics Immortal Iron First issue 16 (Marvel Comics) by Matt Fraction (writer) and David Aja (penciller). Retaining the original speech ballon “Noooooo” in panel 4.

Was it you, comics
Original page (before text substitution).

00 KINDAICHI subst 2
Text substitution by CommArts student Poon K. in a page from the manga The Kindaichi Case Files (Tokyopop) by mangaka Yōzaburō Kanari and Seimaru Amagi (writers) and Fumiya Satō (art). Retaining the original speech ballon “I’m amazed by your work” in panel 4.

KINDAICHI original
Original page (before text substitution).

00 Grumpy Cat
Text substitution by CommArts student Tip in a page from GRUMPY CAT AND POKEY (Dynamite; writers Ben Fisher, Derek Fridolfs, Ilias Kyriazi; and artists Ken Haeser, Ilias Kyriazis, Steve Uy). Retaining various speech balloons, and with additional ellipsis (“…”).

Original Grumpy Cat
Original page (before text substitution).

00 Superman
Text substitution by CommArts student Mos (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from Superman #14 (The Invention Thief, DC Comics, 1942), by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Leo Nowak. Retaining various original speech balloons.

Original Superman
Original page (before text substitution).

00 NARUTO subst
Text substitution by CommArts student Mon in a page from the manga Naruto (VIE Media) by mangaka Masashi Kishimoto. Retaining the original sound effect “SHWUUU” in panel 5.

NARUTO Original
Original scanlation (before text substitution).

00 TinTin and Alph-Art
Text substitution by CommArts student Mo (Creative Writing, 2016) in a page from Tintin and Alph-Art, inked and colorized by Yves Rodier based on (unfinished) pencilled page by Hergé. Retaining the original speech balloon (“?”) in panel 6.

Original TinTin -24- TinTin and Alph-Art - 01
Original scanlation (before text substitution).

00 QUEST subst
Text substitution by CommArts student TG in a page from Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life – Volume 2 (EQ Comics) by Dan Long. Retaining various original speech balloons.

Original Quest
Original strip (before text substitution).


 

3. Text substitutions by CommArts students; without order alteration, but with additional bubbles.

 

00 cat vs human
Text substitution by CommArts student Note in a page from Cat versus Human by Surovec Yasmine. Retaining various original speech balloons, and with additional bubbles.

Original cat vs human
Original page (before text substitution).

00 SAPHIE
Text substitution by CommArts student Pitchii in a page from the webcomics Saphie the One Eyed Cat by Joho. Retaining various onomatopoeiae, and with additional bubbles.

MODEL SAPHIE
Click on the page to reach the original webcomics.

 

#BiggerQuestions constrained comics exercise; weaving scattered wordless panels into a graphic narrative.

#BiggerQuestions: in-class creative assignment (Intro Comm course developed by the Faculty of Communication Arts; Interpersonal Communication chapter); weaving 7 scattered wordless panels (taken from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions) into a 2-page graphic narrative.

BLURB!

“Great exercise!” Matt Madden (February 9, 2018), cartoonist and teacher best known for his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Penguin), as well as a member of OuBaPo (Workshop for Potential Comics), and later a French knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

“More good stuff from [Bangkok], thanks for sharing!” Nick Sousanis (February 9, 2018), assistant professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University. He received his doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comic book form. Titled Unflattening, it argues for the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning, and was published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

January 2018. Fifty (1st year) Thai students at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University) received 2 pages displaying 7 scattered panels (with erased text) taken from various pages of the graphic novel Big Questions by American cartoonist Anders Nilsen. Within 90 minutes, they had to produce additional panels (if necessary) -and add dialogues- in order to bridge the imposed panels and weave a cohesive and convincing graphic narrative. Following brief comments provided on their comprehensive layouts, students finalized the artwork at home. See below for 20+ of their #BiggerQuestions constrained comics.

Inspired by on a constrained comics exercise used at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux international comics residency-lab.

BQ 01 02 ref
Pages from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011).

BQ 01 02
The 2 imposed pages -with scattered panels and blanked-out dialogues- taken from Anders Nilsen‘s Big Questions (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011).

20180108_233504[1]
CommDe student bridging the gaps between Anders Nilsen‘s panels.


Click on the 2-pagers below for larger size.

01 PLYE
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PLYE

YOSHIYUKI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student YOSHIYUKI

BYRD 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student BYRD

02 PT
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PT

SASINAN 01 02 def
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SASINAN (PING)

CHICHI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student CHICHI

OOM 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student OOM

AOM P 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student AOM (P.)

TAT 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student TAT

PHURICH 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PHURICH

SHARON 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SHARON

BASK 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student BASK

EVE 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student EVE

NENE 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student NENE

AOM T 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student AOM (T.)

FAHSAI 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student FAHSAI

LUKPEAR 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student LUKPEAR

SUNNY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student SUNNY

PLOY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PLOY

MIM 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student MIM

KARIN 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student KARIN

MICK 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student MICK

PEACHY 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student PEACHY

KRIS 01 02
“Bigger Questions” constrained comics by (1st year) CommDe student KRIS