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Techniques for Describing Graphic Novels Teri Grossman Audio Describer Audio Description Los Angeles Director of Description Audio Eyes, LLC.

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Presentation on theme: "Techniques for Describing Graphic Novels Teri Grossman Audio Describer Audio Description Los Angeles Director of Description Audio Eyes, LLC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Techniques for Describing Graphic Novels Teri Grossman Audio Describer Audio Description Los Angeles Director of Description Audio Eyes, LLC

2 What is Audio description? Audio Description is the technique of translating visual information into objective, unbiased words.

3 What is the purpose of Audio Description? To provide access to essential visual information to people who are blind or have low vision. So, the goal of graphic novel description is to ensure that students who are blind or visually impaired have a comparable experience reading their materials as their sighted classmates.

4 General Principles of Graphic Novel Description 1. Clearly identify the narration. Nar: 2. Clearly identify the speakers.Steve: 3. Clearly delineate the description. Des: These go all go together with labels so that the reader can distinguish between the author’s work and the describer’s. The labels are explained in the describer’s notes.

5 General Principles of Description 4. Use the present tense. The story is unfolding now, in the present, so the present tense is both appropriate and concise. Not “Jack and Jill are going up the hill,” rather “Jack and Jill go up the hill.”

6 General Principles of Description 5. Transcribe the text as written including the original punctuation. Check – you already do this. 6. Keep the descriptions as concise as possible. Concise, short sentences are easier to understand and won’t distract or compete with the text.

7 General Principles of Description 7. Use the indefinite article “a” when a subject or object is new; use the definite article “the” when the subject or object is seen again. The first time something is seen it is “a pail.” When it is seen again it is “the pail” to reinforce that this is the same pail.

8 General Principles of Description 8. Describe only what is essential. Here is the tricky part – what is essential?

9 Describe this cartoon

10 Describe this cartoon.

11 Describe this cartoon

12 General Principles of Description 9. Do not let the description interrupt the story. Description is intended to complement the story not to interfere or to take its place. The describer decides where in each panel the description will go in relation to the narration or the speakers. Sometimes it is places before sometimes after and sometimes in between this elements.

13 page 13 Nar: I was at that time, young, and really a nice, handsome boy. Des: He heads up a flight of steps that have wrought iron railings. Des: Inside an apartment. He hangs up his hat. A candlestick telephone is on a dresser. Nar: I had a lot of girls what I didn't even know that would run after me. Phone: RRING Telephone: Hello, Vladek? This is Yulek... A friend of mine, Lucia Greenberg, would like to be introduced to you. Des: Vladek leans on the dresser. His face is reflected in the mirror above it. Father: People always told me I looked just like Rudolph Valentino. Des: Father pedals. Behind him is a huge movie poster - The Sheik. A mouse in a striped keffiyeh headdress and robe holds a swooning female mouse is his arms. A small palm tree is in the background. Nar: Eventually, I took Lucia to dance... Des: In dark silhouette, their hands are joined. Lucia: Do you live alone? Vladek: Yes. Vladek: I have a small apartment. My parents moved to Sosnowiec. Lucia: I'd like to see it sometime. Des: He twirls her. Vladek: Maybe sometime.

14 page 5 Preface: Rego Park, N.Y. c Nar: It was summer, I remember. I was ten or eleven... Des: Three mice roller skate in a line on a sidewalk. The one in the middle wears a striped shirt. Nearby, a dog smoking a pipe mows a lawn. Lead Mouse: Last one to the schoolyard is a rotten egg! Nar:...I was roller-skating with Howie and Steve......til my skate came loose. Des: In a smaller circle inside the panel, the lace-up shoe slips out of the front skate clamp. The mouse in the striped shirt falls. Mouse in the striped shirt: Ow! Hey! Wait up fellas! Des: He sits on the sidewalk, holding his leg. A star is above his bent knee. The last mouse looks back. The last mouse: ROTTEN EGG! HA HA! Des: Legs extended in front of him, he sits on the sidewalk, his skate on the grass. Mouse in the striped shirt: W-ait up! Des: He carries his skate in one hand and rubs his eye with his fist. Another mouse wearing pince-nez glasses saws a piece of lumber. Mouse in the striped shirt: Snk, Snk. Nar: My father was in front fixing something...

15 page 6 Father: Artie! Come to hold this a minute while I saw. Mouse in the striped shirt, Artie: Snrk? Father: Why do you cry, Artie? Hold better on the wood. Artie: I - I fell, and my friends skated away w-without me. Nar: He stopped sawing. Father: Friends? Your Friends?... Father: If you lock them together in a room with not food for a week... Des: Father resumes his position, his knee on the lumber. Father:...Then you could see what it is, friends!…

16 General Principles of Description 10. Do not describe moods, motives or reasoning of the characters. These are unseen emotional states and are not described. Describe what you can see. Trust the reader to grasp the context and allow them to reach their own conclusions about the moods, motives and reasoning.

17 Techniques A. Read the story. What happens? What are the principle people, places or things in the story?

18 Techniques B.Describe the cover, title page, copyright page, dedication if there is one.

19 Cover Description from Maus Cover Des: In a chalk drawing, on a gray-brown background, two blue mice sit beneath a swastika. The larger mouse wears a tan trench coat that is buttoned and the belt buckled. His long slender tail rises up behind him. His left arm encircles a smaller mouse, whose pear shaped head appears above a green blanket that covers him. They stare straight ahead. A faint shadow of the two is cast on the wall behind them. In the center of the black swastika is an angular, white, cat face with slits for eyes and long whiskers. The upper left side of the face is black. Thick black lines create the swastika: turn a plus sign 45 degrees; from the end of each arm, add a minus sign extending clockwise at a 90 degree angle. This black symbol is inside a stark white circle.

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21 Dedication & Copyright page Maus Dedication & Copyright page "The Jews are undoubtedly a race but they are not human." Adolph Hitler Thanks to Ken and Flo Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Paul Pavel, Louise Fili, and Steven Heller, whose appreciation and moral support have helped this book find its shape. Thanks to Mala Spiegelman for her help in translating Polish books and documents, and for wanting Maus to happen. And thanks to Françoise Mouly for her intelligence and integrity, for her editorial skills, and for her love. Copyright 1973, by Art Spiegelman. All rights reserved. Chapters 1 through 6 first appeared in somewhat different form in Raw magazine between 1980 and "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" originally appeared in Short Order Comix #1, ISBN

22 Interior page Describe any interior or title pages.

23 Interior page The Man from the cover, this time in jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt of indeterminate color, lies on the floor with his knees bent and lower legs resting on the seat of a leather chair that has round arms. His head rests on a pale blue pillow. A sketching pad is propped on a knee and the red pencil is in his right hand. A series of panels are faintly visible on the pad. Above the image are the words, again crossed out: Faster than a speeding bullet... More powerful than a locomoti. Below the image: Look! Up in the sky!

24 Page 1 Des: A pale yellow quarter sheet of paper is on the facing page. The edges are smudged with white-out. At the top are printed black letters "ay then "ttan". The rest of the letters is covered with white-out. Below, a hand written "May 5." Below that, the word "Diagnosis" with a thin black line above and below. The next line is blotted out except for the letters "TON" flowed by a curvy red "S". At the bottom of the sheet "MARKS T". Nar: What I think about most is the big red S…

25 Describer’s Notes C. Let the reader know how the description fits into the text of the story.

26 Describer's Notes: The story panels flow from left to right, top to bottom. The number of panels per page varies; usually there are 8 equally sized panels that are 2½" long and 2" high in two rows. All the text in the story is hand written in capital letters. The hand drawn lettering is sometimes bolded, or smaller than usual. The narration is in rectangular boxes or outside the panel; words spoken by the characters are in bubbles with an tail pointing to the speaker. Text that represents what a character is thinking is in a bubble with increasingly smaller bubbles that lead to the "thinker". They are referred to as thought bubbles. Text that is whispered is in parentheses. Text that is shouted or angry has a jagged bubble around it. In this described version, the text that is narration is labeled Nar:. When the narration continues uninterrupted from one panel to the next it will not be labeled again. The description is labeled Des:. The text and description for each panel will be separated by a double paragraph break. The story is divided into 6 chapters. Print page numbers in are located in the center at the bottom of the page. In this described version, the page numbers are in the upper left, preceding the contents for that page. The page numbers are followed by one paragraph break.

27 The Art Work D. Talk about the art work. If the art work is consistent throughout say so. "The artwork: The story is illustrated in black on white paper. The characters, all animals, walk upright and wear clothing. The mice have long noses, round upright ears, a dot(s) for eyes, and whiskers. Their mouths are usually not seen. Eyebrows are occasionally added. More complete facial features are apparent on the pigs, cats and dogs." Ex: from Maus

28 The Art Work Or in the case of It's a Bird… "The artwork: The color artwork varies considerably and will be treated in the description. Much of it is watercolor and has the uneven characteristic of the medium."

29 Transcribe and describe E. Follow the top to bottom left to right pattern unless the author has altered the flow.

30 page 12 Nar: After dinner he took me into my old room... Father: Come - we'll talk while I pedal... Des: Father climbs onto a stationary bike. Artie sits in a straight back chair by a desk. Father: It's good for my heart, the pedaling. But, tell me, how it is by you? How is going the comics business? Artie: I still want to draw that book about you... The one I used to talk to you about.. Des: Artie holds a photograph. Artie: About your life in Poland, and the war. Father: It would take many books, my life, and no one wants anyway to hear such stories. Des: On Father's left forearm is a tattoo of numbers: Des: Artie points to the photograph. Artie: I want to hear it. Start with Mom... Tell me how you met. Father: Better you should spend your time to make drawings what will bring you some money... But, if you want, I can tell you...I lived the in Czestochowa, a small city not far from the border of Germany... Des: In a round panel is a mouse in light overcoat with a dark collar, and dark hat. His left hand is in his coat pocket. In the other he carries a briefcase. Nar: I was in textiles - buying and selling - I didn't make much, but always I could make a living.

31 Describe every panel? F. It may not be necessary to describe every panel. If several panels are similar, let the story move forward without interruption.

32 page 45 Nar: It was everything quiet until near morning... Artie: Wait a minute. They only trained you for a few days before sending you into combat? Des: Father sits in an upholstered arm chair. Artie lies on his stomach, notebook in front of him, pencil in hand. Father: Well, the first time I went into the army for 18 months when I was 21. Then every 4 years I went to Lublin for a month to train. You know, my father tried to keep all his children out from the army....because when he was young, he had then to go into the Russian army....and there they took you for 25 years....to Siberia! My father pulled out 14 of his teeth to escape. If you missed 12 teeth they left you go. So, when my brother Marcus got 21 years, father put him on a starvation diet. Always Marcus was sickly - so thin. And when he went for the army examination...they didn't take him. A year later when it came my turn, father wanted to make to me the same thing. It was something terrible!...

33 page 89 Des: He sits, forearms resting on the table. Des: He reads in the leather chair, a comic in his lap. Des: He sleeps in the chair, head propped on hand, the comic open on his chest. Des: Still in his clothes, he lies face down on the bed, comics strewn on the floor. Des: Back in the leather chair, Steve wears an orange robe and holds a TV remote. Des: He reads. More comics on the floor.

34 Character Introduction Use a character’s name only after they are named in the story. Since sighted readers do this visually, it is the describers responsibility to find a visual element of the character to use until the story revels their name.

35 page 2 Nar: It didn't look like the rest of the letters on the report. Des: In a hallway. On the right, two blonde children sit on chairs, their feet not reaching the floor. The smaller one looks at papers on a chair next to him. Three faint greenish figures stand together at the far end that glows with pale yellow light where it meets another hallway. Nar: It looked out of place. Des: The small boy has mop of hair that covers his forehead and the tips of his ears. He wears a jacket with a dark collar and a t-shirt under it. He lifts the top sheet of paper. Nar: Like it was added later… Des: A close up of the black letters ON and the curving, brighter red "S" that has an extra upward mark at the end of the upper arc. Nar: An afterthought… Des: The larger boy has hair like the smaller boy's and stares straight ahead. His jacket is a larger version of the smaller boy's. Nar: I was with my Mom and Dad and my brother, David, in a hospital in North Carolina-- Des: A three story building with a covered entrance and rows of tall narrow windows is bathed in pale orange light with a dirt field behind. Nar: --or Colorado-- Des: The same building, blue green in color, with snow on the ground and snow flurries falling. Nar: --or California-- Des: The building with two rows of palm trees in front.

36 page 3 Nar: I don't remember which exactly. Des: There are now four figures at the end of the hallway. One is a woman and next to her a man gestures to his left. The small boy's profile reveals an upturned nose. Nar: I was only five years old. I do remember how it smelled… Des: A man in a white lab coat pushes a gurney, the body on it covered by a crumpled white sheet. Nar: Like people were trying to cover up something bad with something worse. David: That guy's dead! Small Boy: Nuh-uh! David: Uh-huh! Des: The small boy holds the papers up, shielding himself. David waves his arms. A woman with reddish brown hair wearing a blue-green, long sleeve top, stares at the two, arms crossed. Woman: What are you doing with that paper? Des: Resting the papers on his lap, the small boy puts his fingers on it. Small Boy: I'm… readin' it. David: You can't read! Small Boy: Yes I can! Woman: Don't mess with things that aren't yours. Des: She takes the papers and smacks the Small Boy. He puts a hand to his cheek. Small Boy: OW! Des: David stands. David: We wanna go home.

37 page 5 Preface: Rego Park, N.Y. c Nar: It was summer, I remember. I was ten or eleven... Des: Three mice roller skate in a line on a sidewalk. The one in the middle wears a striped shirt. Nearby, a dog smoking a pipe mows a lawn. Lead Mouse: Last one to the schoolyard is a rotten egg! Nar:...I was roller-skating with Howie and Steve......til my skate came loose. Des: In a smaller circle inside the panel, the lace-up shoe slips out of the front skate clamp. The mouse in the striped shirt falls. Mouse in the striped shirt: Ow! Hey! Wait up fellas! Des: He sits on the sidewalk, holding his leg. A star is above his bent knee. The last mouse looks back. The last mouse: ROTTEN EGG! HA HA! Des: Legs extended in front of him, he sits on the sidewalk, his skate on the grass. Mouse in the striped shirt: W-ait up! Des: He carries his skate in one hand and rubs his eye with his fist. Another mouse wearing pince-nez glasses saws a piece of lumber. Mouse in the striped shirt: Snk, Snk. Nar: My father was in front fixing something...

38 Contact me if you have questions:


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