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Graphic Narrative Analysis Essay

For your graphic narrative analysis essay, you will select one of the graphic
narratives we have read and discussed in class and conduct a close reading of
several panels/pages to support a broader interpretation.
Basic Requirements
Focused on a graphic narrative
4 pages, double-spaced (approximately 1000 words)
Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, 1 margins all around
MLA Format
3 sources aside from the text (JSTOR)
Clear thesis statement
Specific quotations from the text
Conclusion that connects the work to some outside concern
Remember, for a this type of analysis, you should:
Limit your approach to only a few scenes, pages, passages, or panels
otherwise, you run the risk of over-summarizing
Hypothesize what the work as a whole is saying about the theme
Provide clear examples of how the work is making a particular argument
about a more specific aspect (i.e. you cant cover the entire comic in four
pages, but you can cover one scene, one motif, or how point-of-view is used
in relation to a specific character)
Look carefully at specific word choice
Look carefully at the imageswhat is included and why?
Introduction should give some historical background for the author and/or
graphic narrative that will help place it in context
Introduction should include a clear, focused thesis that:
o Makes a claim about the interpretation of graphic narrative as a
whole, a scene, a symbol, a motif, or a character
o Specifies points/examples/literary devices that will be explored in
order to support claim
o Answers the so what? question
Body paragraphs should each focus on one element of the graphic narrative
(for example, one strategy could be paragraphs focusing on the points-ofview, a several-panel or several-page spread, motifs, symbols, images,
specific word choice/phrasing; another strategy might use the first two
paragraphs to look carefully at the way the text and images work together,
then move to broader meaning; another strategy could be a point-of-view or
character analysisthere are many options).
Body paragraphs should connect back to a claim in the thesis.

Conclusion should make an argument about how these specific aspects of

the novel are useful for understanding the contemporary world. This could
be a personal, political, and/or cultural argument.

Nota Bene: The focus is on close reading, so the vast majority of your
essay will be concerned with analyzing panels, dialogue, rendering,
shifts in point-of-view or panel style, or narrative. Avoid broad claims in
the body of your paperyou need to build to larger claims through the
detailed evidence.
Questions for Pre-Writing

What basic plot points are most important to what you want to explore?

What are the basic attributes of the main characters?

Choose three scenes that tie together in some fashion and list how they

Choose two themes that seem to connect, and identify a scene in which they
come together.

Choose one character and find scenes that speak to their internal
motivations. How does facial expression, gestures, movements, or
interaction with others characters factor in?

What are the main symbols or motifs of the graphic narrative? How are they
rendered? In what situations/contexts are they placed? How does this affect

What situations are presented? How do those situations relate to each


How are icons used? Which characters are we prompted to identify with?
How? Why?

Who are the characters on whom the story is focused?

Through what perspectives do we view the story?

Once youve figured out what areas youd like to address, select short
scenes (panels or pages) and use the exercise on point-of-view to break
down what is happening in this section.

What opens the scene? How does the image relate to the text? POV?
How does this panel connect those before and after? POV?

Why is this panel the focal point of the page? What details does it include?

How do various panels interrelate?

How does text relate to image? Does it illustrate what is said, say something
that is unsaid, or undermine what is explained? Why?

How does the graphic narrative spring from an identifiable historical

moment? Identify passages that indicate a particular engagement with