Graphic memoirs have been in the news a lot in the last few months—from Alison Bechdel winning the MacArthur Genius Grant to Roz Chast’s memoir appearing on the National Book Award Longlist.
One of the building blocks of creating a graphic memoir or a nonfiction graphic essay is creating a persona for yourself—the Cartoon You.
Take a look at how Bechdel and Chast have chosen to draw themselves:
Now take five minutes and draw yourself.
Next, draw yourself in three minutes.
Next, draw yourself in one minute.
Draw yourself in thirty seconds.
Draw yourself in ten seconds. Ahhh! That’s scary!
What are the features left over in the final portrait? Those are your defining features that you should keep for your cartoon persona.
Lydia Conklin has received a Pushcart Prize, work-study scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, the James Merrill House, the Vermont Studio Center, Millay, Jentel, Brush Creek, Caldera, the Sitka Center, and Harvard University, among others, and grants and awards from the Astraea Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Alliance of Artists Communities, and the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Her fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, Narrative Magazine, New Letters, The New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. She has drawn graphic fiction for Gulf Coast, Salt Hill, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.