One way to get to know how four panels do the sorts of things they are able to do is to keep a silent daily diary strip for 14 days. Just draw 4 scenes from your day, spend at least a minute on each panel – more if you like. The scenes can be right beside each other in time or be spread out over the whole day. Include the daily sorts of things – pouring milk on cereal, waiting in line – along with things that stand out – a fight, a kiss, a crazy neighbour.
The shift into working without words has been challenging! I have to be more intentional with the drawings. I can’t depend on the text to carry the meaning of the piece. And, according to Lynda Barry, I don’t necessarily need to have a clear idea of what it is I want to express before I begin. The activity itself can take me there:
Both writing and drawing lean on a certain kind of picturing – not the kind that is already finished in your head and just needs to be put to words or reproduced on paper – it’s a kind of picturing that is formed by our own activity, one line suggesting the next. We have a general direction but can’t see where we are until we let ourselves take a step, and then another, and then we move on to the third.
I’ll be posting my daily diary and other exercises from Syllabus over on my tumblr page, Divyam’s Doodles.