On Graphic Memoir and Maggie McKnight’s “Tonight”

June 3, 2009 § 3 Comments

mcknightsnipBrevity 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.

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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.

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