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WRTG 105 Comics & Culture (Mohn)

What makes good design?

Interesting: relevant/new
Function: ease of use, incites new understanding &/or is informative - tells a story visually
​Form: beauty, structure, aesthetic appeal
Integrity: accuracy/ethical

Redistricting 2022 Example

Directions for the group exercise:

  1. Look at the example that corresponds with your breakout room number (e.g. Breakout room 1 would use Example 1, Breakout room 2 would use Example 2, etc…).  

  2. As a group, discuss your assigned infographic and determine where your example fall on McCandless’ “What Makes Good Design” (e.g. is it successful, eye-candy, useless, etc).  Be prepared to explain why.

Visual Analysis Strategies

Here are some strategies to consider when analyzing images and text together in your upcoming writing assignment:

Examine such elements as icons/iconography, props, clothing, color, light, the position of elements on the screen/page, the use of supers (text over images), the use of code words, code-switching, or the use of other kinds of media to augment the message.  What meaning can you derive? Is there a difference in how the image is depicted and how it might be perceived?


Are there images that are placed close together for contrast? Is there meaning in the way the author of the work angles and/or frames the subjects? Are there themes, stereotypes, power structures, or myths propounded by the images?  Are there strategies of crisis, opportunity, etc., that help the image elements work together to create a message.  Is it a coherent message? Are there multiple messages? If so, do they conflict? If there are frames, how is space and/or time being divided?  If there are panels, how does the author use their shape, size, and/or arrangement to convey messages? 

Consider any rhetorical devices used. Does the author use metaphors or allegories, and if so, to what effect? Does the author use either over-exaggeration (hyperbole) or understatement to make a point? Are there any symbolic elements (objects, characters, setting elements) which seem to stand for something else or have multiple meanings; for example, a color may stand for death or an animal for a particular trait or nationality)?  Does the author use a particular rhetorical style [e.g. do they use an emotional appeal to sway the reader (pathos)? Is there an ethical appeal (ethos)? Does the author aim to use logic to sway readers (logos)]?

What is/are the major themes? How does the physical and temporal places where the story takes place help develop character traits or set the tone/atmosphere?  What impact may the point of view or narrator’s voice have on interpretation? What impact does a particular character have? 


Here's an example of a video employing some of these visual & textual analysis strategies toward a page in Maus:



Directions for the group exercise:

  1. Find the example that corresponds with your breakout room number.

  2. As a group, analyze your assigned set of panels using one or two of the analysis strategies provided. Be prepared to share your discussion with the class.