In a graphic memoir, an author narrates a period of her or his life, using sequential art to illustrate the story. In November, I held a workshop over the course of two afternoons during which students were introduced to this new and exciting way of preserving a significant moment of their life. Although the students did not have prior experience in that field or special background in art or literature, they produced beautiful and meaningful one-page stories. They developed their own particular story in their personal style. They chose different lay-outs to illustrate their unique stories.
I’m starting another series of Graphic-Memoir workshops on January 24. Come and learn this new way of expressing yourself in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Here are pages from three of the students in the fall Graphic-Memoir workshop.
La guerre arrive en Cochinchine (1942) by Evelyne Cole
For her project, Evelyne chose a special and dramatic memory from her childhood in Vietnam, at the time called “Cochinchine“. La guerre arrive en Cochinchine (1942) “The war arrives in Cochinchina” is in French, which is the language Evelyne studied in school in Vietnam, and in color pencils. In this story, she recalls the day Japanese destroyers arrived on the beach where she was playing with family and friends, marking the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Vietnam during WW II. Evelyne starts her story with a beautiful establishing scene, capturing the playful mood at the beach on a beautiful sunny day. Quickly, we see black menacing dots on the horizon and the joyful mood changes to an atmosphere of panic. The story ends with a wide panel capturing the chaos on the beach and the family’s anguish as they see their father, a family officer, pedaling towards the bunkers from which he will keep an eye on the Japanese invaders.
A beautifully developed page, in terms of art and story. Evelyne had no prior experience in drawing. She is now planning to do more pages, keeping alive her family stories for the younger generations.
Evelyne Cole's page from the Graphic-Memoir Workshop
A Trip to London for Dad’s Birthday by Leslie Burchyns
In December, Leslie’s whole family was taking a special trip to London to celebrate her husband’s 70th birthday. Leslie decided that her page would commemorate this special event. This is a very interesting page layout that captures the spirit of the event. At the center, we can see the computer screen with a message from the dad announcing the trip to his children. Around that central image, different members of the family are shown already dreaming about what they will be doing in London. The last panel (bottom right) show the whole family celebrating the dad’s birthday. Leslie did the original art in black ink, scanned it and then printed multiple copies. She then colored each of the pages (color pencils). She surprised her husband with the first page on his birthday in London. The others will go to the children.
A beautiful page with a clever layout capturing a special moment in a family’s life. Leslie was very hesitant and unsure of herself n the beginning. Her precious framed page will now hang in her living room.
Leslie Burchyns’ page from the Graphic-Memoir Workshop.
A First Encounter by Pat
Pas loves scuba diving. During one of those trips, Pat and her husband Mike got to swim with humpback whales in a Tongan lagoon. They chose that remote South Seas spot to see the humpbacks in the lagoon where they come each year for their calving and mating. Pat wanted to preserve this amazing experience by telling the story in a humorous way: Both whales and humans are amazed at this first encounter. Pat chose to tell her story in black and white. The simple layout is very effective at capturing the grandiosity of the event. Pat started her page with an establishing scene panel, showcasing the enormous size of the humpback whales. In the middle panels, Pat uses her own experience in scuba diving to illustrate how divers get into the water. Finally, she ends her story with another wide and simple panel, emphasizing the parallelism between the experience of both humans and whales.
A beautiful page, with a great lay-out, preserving, as Pat puts it “the encounter that was certainly the highlight of my diving years!” Pat is now working on the other stories she shared with us in the Graphic-Memoir workshop.
Pat's page from the Graphic-Memoir Workshop.