Help in Reading Comics

Notice and Focus Method – Take from Rachelle Cruz’s Experiencing Comics

In their book, Writing Analytically, David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen write about reframing a reader’s habits of mind: “Not ‘What do you think?’ & not ‘What do you like or dislike?’ but ‘What do you notice?’” They provide these questions to prompt the reader to guide his or her thinking: “What do you find most INTERESTING? What do you find most STRANGE? What do you find most REVEALING?”

Notice and Focus is a guide for close reading and drawing observations and inferences when reading comics. You can go through the entire process for an in-depth, thorough close reading, or you can select one or two questions from each reading to explore.


Step 1: Cast a wide net by continuing to list details you notice. Go longer than you normally would before stopping—often the tenth or eleventh detail is the one that eventually leads to your best idea.” You make several lists as you read your work.

Step 2: Focus inside what you’ve noticed. Rank the various features of your subject you have noticed. Answer the question: “What details (specific features of the subject matter) are most interesting (or significant or revealing or strange)?” The purpose of relying on interesting or one of the other suggested words is that it will help deactivate the like/dislike switch of the judgement reflex and replace it with a more analytical perspective.”

Step 3: Say why three things you selected struck you as the most interesting (or revealing or significant or strange). Saying why will trigger interpretive leaps to the possible meaning of whatever you find most interesting in your observations.”

Notice and Focus

Choose a panel from one of the comics you’re currently reading (I have one attached at the bottom). This can be a panel that confuses or surprises you or a splash page that demands your attention—your choice. It should be a panel that elicits your interest to dig deep into the craft elements and tools at work.

  1. Go through all three steps of Notice and Focus.
  2. Write 500 words that coalesce your findings in Notice and Focus.
  3. Write on these questions and answer them: What did you notice as you slowed your reading process down? What did Notice and Focus allow you to see in the text?

*From Rachele Cruz’s Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing, and Creating Comics

Watchmen, Ch.IV Exert

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Notice and Focus Assigment Template

Submitting Essay 1 to Moodle

Steps to submitting your Essay to Moodle:

1. Log-in and enter the Course Shell for this class: ENGL 101

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2. Under “Contents” locate and click on the section “Essay 1: Superhero Narrative”

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3. Locate the assignment link: “Rough Draft for Essay 1” and click on it (the title of the link).

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4. Locate and click on the “Add submission” button

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5. Click on the image of a page and paper clip with the plus sign

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6. Choose your Essay 1 file using the “Choose File” button and then click “Upload this file” after you have selected it.

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7. Once file appears uploaded, select “Save changes”

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8. Scroll down and make sure you click the “Submit assignment” to finalize posting.

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Peer Review Friday

Friday, in class, we will have our PEER REVIEW of Essay 1. This accounts for 50 pts. of your final 200 pt grade on the assignment.

Bring 2 printed copies, or 1 printed copy, or a digital copy of your essay.

See you then.

Essay 1 Peer Review


For this essay, Essay 1 – Superhero Narrative, you want to look closely at the following:

  1. Is there a good “hook” that draws you in to the story in the first posting (Blog Post 1)?

  2. Is there a well told story here? Is it complete with beginning, middle, and end?

  3. Is there enough vivid imagery and material to pull you in, engage your interest, and make you feel like you can visually see and feel the things they describe?

  4. Is there a clear significance conveyed to the reader (you)?

– Check also for grammar and other proofing errors as well.

– Provide any constructive feedback you may wish to impart.


You should take the feedback given to you, take some time to interact and discuss the comments with those who gave you the feedback, and figure out what feedback works best for you to help improve your paper.

Use the selected feedback to improve your paper and craft your second draft for submission as a rough draft to your instructor for feedback.