assignment 3-2: making observations about a comic

Due date: Friday 10/14
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: At least two paragraphs: one for “patterns” and one for “anomalies.”

This assignment follows the same pattern of analytical activities that you did when you first encountered “Back to the Land.” These are the basic things that most people do when analyzing something, whether it’s a poem, a painting, a human behavior, a speech, or a comic. Those activities, once again, are:

  • Notice significant parts (divide the piece up) and observe how the parts are related to each other and to the piece as a whole
  • List patterns of repetition and contrast
  • List anomalies – things that seem unusual, that seem not to fit the pattern

Before you get started on the written part of Assignment 3-2, you should have already read the two short guides to understanding comics, uploaded on the Course Documents page. Also, it might help to review the DK Handbook: pages 18 – 19, pages 82 – 93, pages 184 – 189, and pages 260 – 263. You were assigned to read these pages earlier in the semester, but if you haven’t read them yet because you didn’t have your book, or if you need a refresher, you should read/re-read them now.

1. Notice and Focus

Read the main text for analysis, “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge” on pages 215 – 237 in the First Year Composition Reader. As you read, circle and mark things that stand out to you. Then, take notes on what you observe. Go through the “notice and focus” process as you did for Assignment 2-1 a few weeks ago. Here are the steps again:

  • In your notebook, list as many interesting, significant, revealing, or strange details about the text as possible. Neufeld’s comic is extremely detailed in some panels. Notice big things (like page arrangement) and small things (like the writing on cars and the individual facial expressions, body postures, and tiny gestures).
  • Choose the three details that you think are the most important for understanding the comic.
  • In your notebook, write a paragraph to give reasons for why these three details struck you as the most interesting, significant, revealing, or strange. Ask how these details contribute to the argument of the text as a whole, or how the details relate to each other.

> You do not need to post your notice-and-focus observations.

2. Patterns

Then, look for patterns of repetition and contrast in “A.D.” This process has five steps. Use a separate sheet of paper to make your lists. The final step of the process will be part 1 of your comment.

  • List repetitions — details, images, or words that repeat exactly and write the number of times you see the repetition for each.
  • List strands. A “strand” is a grouping of similar details or words. Be able to explain the strand’s logic — what holds it together? For example, polite/courteous/well-behaved. That is a strand of similar adjectives. Similar shapes/colors could also be a strand.
  • List organizing contrasts (for example, open/closed, normal/strange, black/white, masculine/feminine). These are also called binaries.
  • Select and list the two most significant repetitions, the two most significant strands, and the two most significant contrasts. The formulation of primary repetitions, strands, or contrasts can reveal what the text (and the text’s composer) is about and interested in. This exercise often leads to a next step: what the text (and the composer) is worried about or trying to resolve.
  • Select one repetition, one strand, or one binary that you take to be the most significant for arriving at ideas about what the text communicates. Write one paragraph explaining your choice. Give reasons for why you think this pattern is the most important.

> This paragraph is Part 1 of your comment.

3. Anomalies

After you have looked for patterns, it can be helpful to search for anomalous details — those details that seem not to fit the pattern. In this second part of your comment, write a paragraph about anything that stands out. Write about anything you noticed but couldn’t list as a repetition/strand/binary in the “patterns” process above. If you have trouble finding an anomaly, you could write your paragraph about anything that is missing. What does the text leave out or omit, and what are the implications of this omission? Is there any other aspect of the topic that Neufeld seems to be avoiding? Obvious or subtle omissions can be anomalies because they defy patterns and expectations.

> This paragraph is Part 2 of your comment.

Remember to keep an open mind and suspend your judgment when you are doing “notice and focus,” listing patterns, and finding anomalies. For now, you are just trying to gain access to the world of “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge” and understand what Neufeld is saying or what story he is telling in this piece.

To summarize, this assignment is a comment of at least two paragraphs:

  • Explanation of one repetition, one strand, or one binary that seems most important for arriving at ideas about what “Back to the Land” is arguing
  • Explanation of anomalies or things that are missing from the text

15 thoughts on “assignment 3-2: making observations about a comic

  1. Pattern
    1. The main pattern I picked up in the comic was how there was a crowd pretty much in every scene. I think this is the most important because it shows how many people there really were no matter where you moved to in the town. The crowd related to other main points in the comic where there isn’t much food or water or supplies for anyone and there aren’t enough buses to take all the people anywhere safe. So since there weren’t enough supplies many people ended up dying yet the crowd still remained huge.
    Anomaly
    2. One thing that stuck out to me was how there were absolutely no white people in the whole comic besides the police and the scene when those random two people are driving in their care. This stuck out because even though the city was heavily populated by African Americans, doesn’t mean there were no white people suffered through the storm as well. The author seems to just be putting the focus on how unfortunate African Americans were and why we didn’t help them. This makes people feel sorry for them, and not to any other races suffered.

  2. 1. One of the main patterns I took from “A.D.” was that in most, if not every, scene there was a large crowd of people gathered in one area. The crowds seemed stranded and helpless. Whenever anyone would ask for help they were ignored or either had a gun pointed at them, like on pages 223,226 and 228. I also noticed that the environment seemed very hostile. I would assume nothing less than that considering these people just lost everything in the hurricane and it was hot outside with no food or water in site – plus they are not allowed to leave. That would also lead to the fact that a lot of profanity was used in this comic. I believe characters swore seven times if not more. Josh Neufeld, the author, didn’t bother to “bleep out” the profanity considering that if it was “bleeped out” that, that would be sending a different message possibly making it seem less horrifying that it truly was.

    2. In the comic “A.D.” something I found strange was that the Neufeld didn’t use many colors other than yellow, white, and brown. I wasn’t sure what he was trying to portray with those colors, if anything at all. Also it seems that only African Americans are in the scenes expect for a few white people here and there, like the military or the man and women driving the car. I know that the southern states that were hit by Hurricane Katrina are generally populated by the African American race but why would Josh Neufeld only show that they were the ones suffering and being treated very harshly. I guess that makes one think, were those people treated that harshly and denied food and water in times that they really need it?

  3. One of the patterns that I picked up from the piece “AD”, was the use of the word water. In several of the scenes, many people are begging for basic necessities but mostly water. It seems that in all of the ruckus going on, all the crowd needs is water, like on page 220. It seems to be a life or death situation when the baby on page 222 to 225 is dehydrated and looks to be dead. The people are just looking to survive, and realize maybe all they need in life is the basics; they are realizing they take the everyday pleasures for granted, as realized on page 231. People are spewing curses, perhaps because they are not used to getting everything they want in a time of crisis, like in their everyday lives.

    An anomaly that I noticed in “AD”, was the random introduction to Vicodin, Percocet, Demerol, beer, coke and cookies. It just seems odd that the “thugs”, on page 228 would steal these things instead of basic food, water or blankets. In my opinion, how is beer going to save you? The fact that these thugs had to be the ones who tried to help in the situation is a little off. What is also odd to me is that there were officials driving through the ruins and they didn’t stop to help, or even offer support. The author might be trying to point out that officials did not do their job in the crisis, and the “bad” guys had to step up in a way they thought was helpful.

  4. 1) Some repitions I noticed within the Josh Neufeld A.D. New Orleans was the one woman with the curly hair and glasses having a lot of comments about their horrible situation and what is expected of the government, Another repition that kept reocurring throughout the comic were the thugs and their agressiveness towards one another because they were all anxious to get out of New Orleans. The people kept asking for water, food and assitance. I really didn’t find any binaries but a few strands like dehydation and hunger, there not the same thing but they’re similar in a way. Both can led to death which happened to an elder within the comic.

    2)Agreeing with Tristen I don’t think the author did a very good job of having the thugs still beer, soda and cookies rather than water and blankets. Yet it was hot so blankets were unnesscary and because stealing was still illegal and guards were driving around the thugs had to steal whatever they could. Another anomolie I noticed was the scene in the car on page 230 and 231 I really didn’t understand if these were balck people who escaped the flood before it happened or was this some people who were tunning in to the radio because they heard about this through the news. Some thing that stood out to me were the fact that there’s no white people within the comic, the man who was willing to risk his life for his dieing daughter, the thugs that helped the elderly out the best way possible and that there was never no sign of rescue mentioned at the end of the comic the people were just left there without any assistance whatsoever.

  5. 1. There was two main things that I noticed in this comic. The first thing is that there is a lot of emotion in this part of the comic. It goes from sad to angry to hopeless. It shows how hectic this disaster was and that know one was willing to help. I also noticed that the groups of people that were in most of the sections where sweating profusely, in a panic and because of the heat. This also shows that no one knew what to do.
    2. One this that I did notice that really stood out to me is that the only people who actually were pro active and tried to make the situation better are called thugs. I know that they stole the stuff the help the people out but I still don’t think that they deserve to be put under the categorize as thugs. When people think of the word thugs they think of a bad person.

  6. Part One:
    The first thing I noticed about this comic was that all of the faces seemed very distressed. The group of people on page 220 shows a clear example of this. These people have a good reason to be feeling like this because they were displaced from their own and torn from their families. Another thing I noticed about the people was that they were all very sweaty and in dire need of water. This was clear to me because of the way the illustrator drew the sweat, angry expressions, and included details in his text. Lastly, whenever water was mentioned in was in what I labeled as “shakey” text. The author does this to portray the anguish in these people’s voices and this stood out to me.

    Part Two:
    Very few anomalies stood out to me in this comic but I noticed a few. First of all, in some strips it showed the “yellow and red people” but one thing that stood out was that sometimes there was one white person rather than yellow. This is shown on pages 223, 228, 232, and 237. I found that this stuck out and didn’t fit the comic like the rest of the panels but the illustrator had a good reason to do so. Another anomaly, similar to the first was that on page 234-235. The group of people had white eyes. They stood out and really showed the expression of the people on this page. I found that this didn’t fit with the rest of the panels but works with what the illustrator is saying. Overall, there were some anomalies that “popped” out to me while I was reading this comic.

  7. 1) Some repititions I noticed throughout the comic was the woman with the curly hair and glasses that started off as the first character to speak in the comic and was the only character with a lot of her own opinions about their situation throughout the comic. Another repitition was the thugs, guns and viiolence that occurred within the cluttered space that was they was in. A pattern that kept being used was the lack of water that the elderly needed. Which brings about a possible strand dehydration and hunger these two things that go hand in hand because without the other you will have a slim chance of surviving.

    2) Agreeing with Tristen I wouldn’t undestand why the thugs would steal beer, cookies and soda versus water and clothing but then again it was hot out no water was left for the public and the police was patrolling so the thugs had to steal whatever they could without being caught. Another anomolie I noticed was the car scene on 230-231, I really didn’t understand were these couple two that escaped the flood before it happened or were they just worried about the people in New Orleans ans comparing themselves to their situation in cases of being less fortunate. Some pictures and ideas that I stood out to me was crying babies, violence, angry mobs and the fact that the color of the comic was in a different like sepia not showing if the people are white or black.

  8. There are many patterns within After the Deluge that stood out to me. The most prolific pattern to me was the constant talk about dying or people dying. The first time that they discuss dying is right after the tank and soldiers roll through pointing their weapons at them while they just stare at the helpless people. The reason they talk about dying is because they all thought they were going to get some type of aid from these soldiers and they end up just going past without a flinch and for that second afterword all of the victims sort of lose all hope of being helped and kind of feel like they are just going to die there without anyone noticing or caring. The next similar scenario to the previous one is when they all freak out after someone says that there are no buses coming to save them. So both of these were like kind of like false scares since nobody has died during these scenes. But in the next scene that talks about death, someone actually dies and afterward someone says they are trying to kill us all its kind of in a depressed state unlike the first two which were full of fear of what could happen to them. These three scenes about death are a very prolific pattern that stood out the most to me in this comic strip.

    The part of the comic that stood out to me the most was the image of the father holding up his young daughter that is severely dehydrated. In the scenes before it is a dramatic scene of the father and another man fighting over a bottle of water. This means that these people are so deprived of supplies like water that they are fighting over it just to keep themselves alive and in the case of the father it was to help keep his daughter alive. After the fight is broken up both of the men have guns pointed in their faces. At this point the men with the guns realize that even though the man need water for his daughter they need to keep everyone in line so that this little incident does not erupt the entire crowd of people and make things go into complete chaos. This is also showing how close everyone is to death from the deprivation of food and water. And this is a strong image to portray the level of deprivation that these people are being put through without any help from the government. This image is the strongest image that is in this comic book to me because of the strong emotion that is portrayed through it.

  9. In Josh Neufield’s comic I noticed how there was a consistant pattern of drama profanity and that all of this action happenend in one day. I also noticed the drama seemed to be focused on the ones who seemed to look African American. However there was a main color of yellow and brown which could have been used to direct the focus off of the “color” of the person.

    An Anomoly of this comic is that the drama and most of the cussing looks like it is focused around African American people. This can be quite insulting and stereotypical towards African American people because that is the judgment that most of us are faced with, being the “ignorant” people in public.

  10. The piece started out with the single woman looking for a bathroom. Thats where the intitial destruction is seen in the bathroom. She then moves on to more and more people and eventually to a whole community. She continually shows up in the skit. Patterns we see are the need for water, complaining children, and the noted lack of support by the government as a whole. For example when the two men fight over water, or the locals loot a grocery store for water, beer, and medications. We see an dehydrated infant and todler suffering. Another pattern I noticed is the repeated help by the “thugs.” The whole skit is leading up to an inevitible death and eventually miss williams dies while the people are waiting for the bus’s to come.
    Anomoly would be the people in the car perhaps, because they are set away from the scene of the story. But they are a useful tactic to emphasize the lack of what people in new orleans have. Although they are safe they emphasize for the people at the super dome.

  11. 1. I noticed to major things when i read the piece “AD”. There was always a crowd in every scene. It made each scene seem like it was always crowded and very filled in. I never understood the reasoning behind it but when it came to the emotion, i saw that the crowd of people was used to show the emotion in this piece. Emotion was actually the one characteristic that i noticed more in this piece and it helped me comprehend the reading as a whole.
    2. The anomaly i grabbed was the cussing and swearing that was used but it seemed like it was used and primarily pointed towards african americans. It was stereotypical but it showed that the author of this comic has those viewpoints even if it is somewhat racist.

  12. 1. One of the main patterns I saw in the comic was that there was a huge crowd nearly every scene. That is the only pattern I could particularly significant to this comic. I believe its important because the comic is about people that are stranded without and water and people are not coming to help them. The fact that they are just in a huge crowd means, to me, that they want to be together and be found which it easier if they are all together.
    2. One this that stuck out to me was that most of the people in the comic were African American. However it was hard to determine color because Neufeld also didn’t use colors other then browns, oranges, and yellows. But every so often Neufeld would single out someone and not color them in, making it seem like we should be paying attention to that person instead of the whole group. It didn’t seem fair that Nuefeld only used African Americans to show how in pair these people were. I’m sure during this time there were whites and people of other races in the crowds suffering just as much. I think that’s an anomaly because its odd to see only one race singled out to show pain, however it does happen.

  13. In the comic the thugs are, in a sense, running the city…or what is left of it. I find this to be a very interesting pattern. Maybe it’s because I have never heard of “thugs” running the city after hurricane Katrina, maybe it’s because they were semi organized within the comic. Whatever it is, it really struck me as an interesting part of the comic because the thugs made an appearance in almost every page of the story. It showed how much organization there really was by the government and the city itself, there were cops driving through the city doing nothing but yelling out of their car. There was no one there, except for the thugs to say how the organization of the buses would be. I never read anything of this back in 2005, I was much younger at the time and I don’t remember much, but I feel like I would remember this.
    At the same time, the thugs stuck out to me as something that didn’t fit. Sure, they robbed the Rite Aid to help nourish the crowd, but they are “thugs” drinking whiskey in the bathrooms. How did they have any know how? More importantly, how is it realistic? Again, Katrina was a long time ago and I was much younger, but I feel that more adults and more newscasters would have been talking about it. To me, the thugs running the city is just something that doesn’t fit the real life context of the situation.

  14. I think one of the main patterns I took from A.D. was how it was so hectic through out the whole comic. The first couple of slides don’t have a lot of people in it but there is still a lot going on with all of the trash all over the place. But the next page right away there are tons of people crowded around in a panic not knowing where to go or what to do. It is also very hectic because there is violence going on and people are scared. Since it is not very organized in the crowd people feel panicked and it makes it very hectic.

    One anomaly that really stuck out to me is how the author had everyone in the comic be the same color but you could still tell who was white and who was black. The author uses different lingo for the white people and for the black people. The only white people in the comic are the cops and when the people are driving in the car listening to the radio. He makes the white people speak very proper and makes the black people use lots of lingo and swear words. He is trying to make it seem like only the black people are using bad language and that they are the ones who are improper and that the white people have perfect english.

  15. One of the main patterns that I notice is the repition of “water”. Water is the main nessessity that people need to survive, and the lack of water keeps coming up in the comic as people ask for water and even begin to fight over water. The most basic human need was not provided during a time of tragedy. Another repetion was that of children. In the comic we see the little girl crying becuase shes cranky and tired, and we also see the man holding his nearly dead baby asking for water. People show sympaathy when there are children involved.

    A mojor anomoly that stood out to me was the role of “thugs”. Normally, we look at thugs to be bad people who are always in trouble with the law and up to no good. In this comic, their role changes and they become the piece keepers and organizers and help to provide for the community. While on the oposing side, the government, who is supossed to protect its citizens are not helping at all but pointing guns at the people. Roles quickly changed in a time of tragedy.

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