Tracing due: Mon. 1/23, at the beginning of class (bring original tracing & a photocopy)
Tracing post due:  Fri., 1/27, at the beginning of class, including a legible, well-cropped image of your tracing (category = tracing)

Choose a page from Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.  A “page” means a single verso (left) or recto (right) page. You may do a two-page spread only if that spread forms a coherent unit. In that case, a two-page spread will count as one “page.” (Warning: a two-page spread will take a lot more time, so only do this option if you have lots of time to spare.)

Take a couple of pieces of tracing paper.


  1. Stop by Dr. ‘Chill’s office (Chambers 3288) and take a couple of sheets of tracing paper from the bench outside her door (poke your head in and say hello, if she’s there).
  2. Pick a compelling page from the graphic narrative, tape or clip the paper to it, and trace the image. Your goal is not to create a look-alike reproduction of the original page. Rather, it is to distill the original page into a simplified line drawing. If there are caption bubbles or boxes, you should trace their outline, but do not copy the text within. Do not trace or fill in shading either.
  3. Photocopy your tracing before you begin annotating it in order to preserve your original tracing. You may need several copies, in fact, in order to have room for all of your annotations.
  4. Annotate a photocopy with “gutter text”—your own text, written into the gutters and empty captions. Think of your gutter text as a dissection of the page, in which you highlight both the salient and subtle characteristics of the page’s franes. Describe every detail and mark everything you notice, no matter how basic or obvious. Examine the various formal features of the drawing: line styles, shapes and sizes, angles and placement, perspective and framing, layering and blocking. Consider the relationship between the elements on the page: the transitions between panels, the interplay between words and images, the way time and motion are conveyed. Consider overall layout of the page: the use of gutters and margins, the arrangement of panels, the flow of narrative or imagery.

Reflection Essay
Draft a blog post reflecting on your annotated tracing (750 words max.). Explain what drew you to the page you traced. Consider any of the following questions:

  • What did you find yourself leaving out of the tracing?
  • What did you find yourself striving to include in the tracing? Why?
  • What did the process of tracing reveal about the page?
  • What did the product of your tracing reveal? Is there a difference between the two?
  • How closely does your tracing capture the dominant narrative or visual themes of the overall work?
  • What does your tracing reveal about Bechdel’s drawing style or about the work as a whole?

Once you’ve done some exploratory writing (aka “freewriting) and written a “discovery draft” in order to figure out what you think about the page or panel, revise into a focused, coherent, persuasive argument. Don’t try to answer all of the above questions in your essay, and don’t list or catalog all your insights. Instead, choose your best insight and develop it into an argument by situating yourself in conversation with someone else (like McCloud or Bechdel at her lecture) and defending your claim with evidence from the novel and analysis to show how the evidence supports your claim. Get straight to the point, and write in your own voice, using the shortest, fewest words possible to communicate your ideas.

Your post should include legible, flat, well-cropped photos or scans of the original page and of your annotated tracing(s). (Ask someone to help hold down the corner of the page to get a good shot.) To be marked satisfactory, it must also meet the specifications for all analytical blog posts.

Category: Tracing