The Jack & Jill Problem

By | Saturday, May 14, 2011 Leave a Comment
I picked up a book several years ago called Visual Literacy by Judith and Richard Wilde. It's basically a book presenting a series of increasingly complex graphic design problems as they'd been posed to students. Actual college students learning graphic design. What these professors had done, essentially, was compile their assignments into book form and present some of the students' results to show how the process worked.

Of particular interest to comics scholars might be "The Jack and Jill Problem." The assignment is basically to illustrate the nursery rhyme in six panels using only a decidedly finite set of dingbats. Here's how it's presented in the book...
I was quite impressed with the assignment -- one unlike any I had undertaken during my undergrad days -- and used a variation of it while I was teaching. (Different set of dingbats to illustrate "Old King Cole".) There are several things going on at work in this assignment. First, is to force people to re-define preconceived notions of representation; for example, "Jack" and "Jill" can't be represented as people because there are no people graphics to work with. Next it breaks the rhyme down into discrete chunks and designates a long sequence into fixed moments -- in essence, taking a story and breaking it down into the most relevant portions. Between thinking in those discrete chunks and putting a set of visuals to them, you have to (by the guidelines inherent in the assignment) make a comic. Perhaps one that's more abstract than, say, the latest issue of Action Comics, but a comic nonetheless. It's a fun challenge and is an excellent way to bring comics into the design classroom.

Here's some of the student solutions presented in the book...
Newer Post Older Post Home