Visual World Assignment #2: Analysis: Comics and Public Events

In this essay, you will compare representations of public events in comics and in traditional journalistic writing. Your task is to present an argument for the effectiveness of one medium over another in representing the event based on analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each source for representing what Tim O’Brien terms the “story truth” of the event.

Audience: General public and media scholars interested in the event

Format: 1200 words (4-5 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best essays will provide a clear description of the public event, a clear explanation of O’Brien’s concept of “story truth,” and detailed analysis of the aspects of the event emphasized by the comic and by the traditional journalistic source. Your argument for which source represents the event more effectively should be grounded in your understanding of the event’s “story truth.”


Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension between two sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to build on the skills of visual and verbal interpretation students practiced in the first essay and to introduce the research process, including accessing traditional journalistic writing using library resources and the Web. Students will practice quotation, paraphrase, and summary and will be introduced to in-text citation and the requirements of a Works Cited page. The instructor should provide a library of comics that represent public events selected from political cartoons and graphic novels.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. In-class writing and discussion of the messages conveyed by political cartoons and graphic novels;
  2. Annotating and discussing background texts on the elements of comics (McCloud and Eisner) and on O’Brien’s concept of “story truth;”
  3. Identifying and accessing library research sources such as LexisNexis and the New York Times archive, including a visit to the library and follow-up sessions in class;
  4. Practicing paraphrasing and summarizing sources, and incorporating quotes in student’s own writing;
  5. In-class writing and peer review focused on incorporating sources and developing clear arguments;
  6. Practicing in-text citations and formatting entries for a Works Cited page

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