Novel Graphics

page 1 of comic book
page 2 of comic book

Ashley/Xiomara Comic Accessibility

A two-page comic in black and white.

Page 1

The first page is mostly organized in three discrete rows, with two panels at the top, the title nestled just below it before the second row, three panels in the second row, and an open panel stretching the entire width of the page third.

panel1 listen below for description

Panel 1: 

Caption text 1: People often have limited assumptions about what comics can be. 

A closeup on our two storytellers Ashley and Xiomara, cartoonily drawn, wearing makeshift Robin and Batman costumes, respectively. They are looking directly at the reader, rather seriously. Behind them, as a kind of wallpaper/backdrop, are careful redrawings of characters from various well-known comics properties, including Spider-Man, Daredevil, Thor, Iron Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, Bone, Tintin, Captain Underpants, Sandman, Wolverine, Garfield and many more. 

Caption text 2: To unravel their true potential requires a different approach.

page 1, row 1, panel 2 listen to the description below

Panel 2: 

Caption Text 3: The Comic Studies Program at SF State opens a world of possibilities for how we engage with comics and where they can take us. 

Slightly wider than the first panel, we see the two narrators again, this time in full as they are leaping out of their panel a rip in that same backdrop, bursting out of the panel border, Ashley’s Robin costume is already disappearing as she returns to normal clothes and they are both smiling. 


Title of the comic Thinking on the Drawing Board

Title: Thinking on the Drawing Board by Ashley and Xiomara


page 1 row 2 panel 3 listen below for description

Panel 3:

This is the start of the second row of panels, with three nearly square panels in it. The cape that Ashley/Robin was wearing drifted from Panel 2 past the title and leads the eye into this panel. 

Caption Text 4: Comic studies invites everyone to join our ranks. 

Ashley and Xiomara now fully in their everyday clothes fall from above and gracefully land in the panel in stereotypical superhero dramatic fashion. In the foreground, a toolbox sits.

page 1 row 3 panel 4 listen below for description

Panel 4:

Closeup on the toolbox, opened, we see the hands of the two characters reaching in and grabbing tools a few of which are recognizable tools (wrench, level), but the rest are elements of comics a word balloon, a panel grid, letters, etc. 

Caption Text 5: No experience required.

page.1 row 2 panel 5 listen below for description

Panel 5: 

Caption Text 6: In our classes, students develop conceptual skills to use and keep in their toolbox. 

We are now looking up as if in the toolbox at Ashley and Xiomara; they are smiling, excited, with tools in hands. 

page 1 row 3 panel 6, listen below for description

Panel 6:

This panel has no borders, it features a single image across the page, with: 
Caption Text 7 upper left of it “The classroom is a laboratory” and Caption Text 8 lower right corner “To try out different tactical approaches.” 

The image is a series of buildings as if along a street whose tops each make a letter spelling out the word “Comics.” The buildings are under construction we see steam shovels and a crane in the background, and the figure of Xiomara looms large behind the M checking it with a level, while Ashley is small in the front of the buildings and appears in action many times putting up posters, inking the drawing with a giant brush and installing lettering her many appearances are a demonstration of a property of a character appearing multiple times in a single panel known as the De Luca Effect. On the front facades of each of the buildings, different elements of how to use comics are represented. The C has a number of different panel compositions all trying to get across the idea of “rushed” (being pasted up by a small Ashley). The O has three vertical panels on its face that depict first an empty street, then a building under construction, and finally a finished home getting at how comics show time. To emphasize the point, on the roof of the building there’s a sundial that could also serve as the whole in the center of the O. For the M, each of the ends of the letter display a column of three panels, all three ends making a nine-panel grid a common structure in comics formats. There is scaffolding showing it is under construction. The I is a Victorian house (with a tiny Ashley using a giant ink brush in the front yard). The C is all about lettering (one Ashley is adding an L to “lettering” near the top of the building while another Ashley is putting a word balloon near the bottom). And the S has on its face, diagrammatic layout sketches, each that loops and snakes demonstrations of a technique in Sousanis’s classes about guiding the reader’s eye in unusual ways down the page that he calls “zithering.”


Page 2 

This page breaks away from rows and instead will follow a more “zithering” path down. 

Page 2 panel 1 part a, listen below for description of comic strip

Panel 1:

Entire width of the page, about a quarter of the page tall. 

Caption Text 1 (upper left of panel and page): Our hands-on approach has students participate in improvised collaborative activities

The panel shows a series of hands all drawing rough comics on on paper and passing them to one another in a circle a typical improv activity in the comics classes.

Caption Text 2 (lower right corner of this panel breaking the panel border and leading them to the next series): That focus on playing with the form. 

page 2 panel 1 part b, listen below for description of comic strip

The rest of the page is a kind of film strip or path flowing out of the upper panel and the circle of passing comics, and emanates from Caption 2. It is divided into separate panels on its curving path, and each will be described separately. It is initially moving right to left against ordinary reading order. The first of the interior panels show Ashley and Xiomara sketching on a piece of paper as tall as them (it is actually them coming up with ideas for this comic on large paper, as they did). 

Caption Text 3 (over the top of this panel and the next, and instead of being rectangular, it’s a thought balloon): We learn that how you think

Second inner panel is diagrammatic sketches that are of how they figured out the top panel on this page with all the hands in a round. 

Third panel is a sketch note words that they were trying out to figure out what they might say and do in this comic. 

The Fourth panel has the word Comics drawn stylized over a brain structure made of pieces with text that reads “everyone can find a piece that resonates” like the others this is one of their sketches that they made for figuring out how to make this comic. 

The Fifth panel departs from showing how they figured this out, and now it shows each of them though drawn by and as if being drawn by the other so Ashley is in Xiomara’s style and Xiomara in Ashley’s. A thought balloon from Ashley’s head reads “I’m not left handed …” (though here she is depicted as such).


page 2, panel 1, part c, listen below of comic strip depiction

Caption Text 4 (rectangular): Is more important than how you draw. 

The sixth panel shows the two figures from about the waist up, but now only as sketches, with no features of any sort. One says in a word balloon “I can’t feel my legs …” The other responds “I don’t think we have any … yet.” The next panel these partially drawn figures sit up from the panel, and then in the next set of panels, that has now become a spiral looping around and behind itself as it initially moves left to right and then back right to left, they get out of the panels altogether, exclaim “let’s go” and then dash around the loop.


page 2 panel 1 part d, listen below for a description of the comic strip

Caption Text 5 (right side of page, over top of part of this loop): Students come with various skills, experiences and perspectives. 

Above the caption outside of the looping path, a collage of drawings that alludes to various other disciplines film, botany, astronomy, poetry, fine art, chemistry, mathematics and more. 

The looping path goes under itself and makes a final bend at the left side of the page.

page 2, panel 1, part e, listen below for description of the final 2 caption text

Caption Text 6: Together, we expand our minds one panel at a time

The final bit, the path ends and becomes loose comic book pages with blank compositions Ashley and Xiomara pass through these pages and become fully realized again. Beyond them lies an open door. 

Caption Text 7: And along the way, we find ourselves.


a troupe doing a hula performance with artwork of a woman in the background

Dance Masters

Associate Professor of Dance Ray Tadio and alumnus and kumu hula (master hula teacher) Patrick Makuakāne use groundbreaking approaches to traditional dance to express who they are and where they come from. 

The Fresno-based femme punk band Besos4Baby: Gracie Torres (left) and Autumn Cedillo

Facing the Music

Gator musicians step off the stage and in front of the cameras for a class project teaching Journalism students the basics of portrait photography. 

Chris Larsen

In Conversation with Chris Larsen

Legendary journalist and Gator Ben Fong-Torres talks to cryptocurrency pioneer Chris Larsen (B.A., ’84) about the future of investing and why going to SF State was the “bargain of the century.”