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Tracing Pages

“Stitches” by David Small
“Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel

Finding Identity in Gutters

I chose to recreate page 297 of “Stitches” by David Small and page 76 of “Fun Home” by Allison for the Tracing Pages Stitches and Fun Home assignment. On page 297 of “Stitches”, I noticed a similar setup of panels to that of Bechdel’s page. A smaller quantity of panels is used at the beginning and end of the page while multiple is located in the middle. Within these panels, the reader can see both protagonists grappling with their identity and place in the world. Both of these pages also exhibit a kind of hobby, or passion that helps David and Alison take steps towards their self-discovery. Davids’s canvas and paint are seen in panels two and three of “Stitches” and David is seen hunched over in concentration over his work in the third panel. Alison is seen invested in homosexual literature in the first and last panel of page 76. Although both discover this away from their respective familial relations, both protagonists have quite different experiences. In “Stitches” we see various harsh horizontal and vertical black lines throughout the page. The bars of the birdcage, the shadows the bars create, the hardwood floor panels, and the brick wall are all images that give a sense of entrapment. This feeling conveyed would fit the setting David found himself in at the time. In contrast, instead of doors being closed for Alison, they are being opened. This can be seen in the third panel especially. She is reaching out to available sources such as literature and the “Gay Union” found on her university campus. The brick wall seen in the first panel behind Alison does not take the front stage like in the fifth panel of the “Stitches” page. In this case, it is simply a backdrop, and our eyes aren’t especially drawn to it. Another striking difference I noticed was the number of characters present on the page. During their similar journey, Alison is surrounded by people, five of them seen in the second panel. This is unlike David who chooses to seclude himself from others. The third panel on page 297 of “Stitches” depicts David looking off the distance into what appears to be the exterior. This gives the impression of a long seclusion time period. This is also supported by the unfocused scenes drawn on the page that do not involve the protagonist in any way other than proximity. Lastly, both of these scenes differ in language. Small opts to deliver messages more through the context of images whereas Bechdel enjoys lengthier descriptions to help the reader understand her mindset at the time. Still, this does not take away from the “vernacular form with mass appeal” (Chute).

Source: Chute, Hillary L. Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics. Columbia University Press, 2010, Accessed 10 May 2022.