On Graphic Memoir and Maggie McKnight’s “Tonight”
June 3, 2009 § 3 Comments
Brevity 30 contributor Maggie McKnight writes about her essay “Tonight” and her decision to extract the text from a graphic memoir (still in progress) to compose her brief essay:
I first wrote “Tonight” several years ago as a response to an assignment in grad school—the assignment, in Robin Hemley’s “Nonfiction and the Image” class, was to take self-portrait photographs and write an essay inspired by them. My partner and I photographed the part of myself that most occupied our thoughts—and our hearts—at the time. Later, in working on a graphic memoir based on the same events, I converted the essay to graphic format (using less than half of the original text), to use as a prologue for my book.
The existing draft of the graphic essay is here; it needs revision still. (Among other things, some of the images aren’t working yet—the one at the top right of page 4, for instance, is indecipherable to most people. And I feel uncomfortable with the lead-in to my mom’s dialog, class-based assumptions that I know don’t accurately represent either my opinion or hers.)
Meanwhile, I decided to extract the text from the graphic essay to turn back into a short prose essay, with further revisions to the text. So the piece went from a 1600-word prose essay to a five-page graphic essay, and back to a 540-word prose essay. Now I have to do the graphic version again.
NOTE: You can see the draft version of Maggie McKnight’s graphic memoir here: Mcknight Tonight PDF. Your discussion of how the graphic version differs from the prose version invited.
The art work really adds something hard to describe to the story, especially the lack of color, the stark contrast of black and white against such a hopeful theme.
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