Synthesis Example using a Comic/ Graphic novel


A synthesis between texts can be achieved regardless of the sources used, so long as you, the author or synthesizer, analyze clear themes from the text and develop a framework for how these themes speak to an original idea. That term “original” is particularly important here because your audience wants to see how you connect texts/ themes that few others have.

Today, we’ll read two short stories “Strong Female Protagonist”  by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Incognegro by Mat Johnson and synthesize themes for the comic and graphic novel to see how they connect with the authors’ writing style.

Think Globally

After reading each text it is important to organize your thoughts about patterns or themes you see in each one. The best way to start is to engage in large-scale or global issues/ themes.

Question: What are some major Global themes that are present in both texts?

Global Themes “SFP” Incognegro
Illustration Drawn in Black and White, web comic Drawn in Black and white, but in a print graphic novel
Superhero Elements Mega Girl has super powers, Strength and speed Zane can pass for white in the Jim Crow South (his super power), uses it to expose racism
Issues of Acceptance Mega Girl feels out of place in culture and society and has ambivalent feelings toward powers/ place in world Zane is accepted in community in Harlem, but is not accepted in the South/ uses super power to try gain dignity
Plot Elements All Mega Girl wants is to retire and live a normal life, but her world will not allow it. Zane loves the celebrity Incognegro gives him back in Harlem, but frees he will be killed if he is ever discovered


Think Locally

After finding some solid global connections it is now time to shift gears and look for specific connections in both texts. We’ll call these selections Local, because they are small-scale and more narrowly tied to the authors’ writing style.

Question: What are some significant local themes present in both stories?

Local Themes “SFP” Incognegro
Drawing/ Multiple Panels The illustrator uses multiple panels per page to set scenes and create tension. The illustrator uses multiple panels per page to set scenes and create tension, while also using full page panels
Illustrating characters Character faces are drawn to show emotional depth and engage audience empathy Character faces are drawn to show emotional depth, and also indicate social and class levels
Dialouge Informal language, often humorous and engaging, mimicking real life Heavy use of dialect, informal language, and also tropes, even stereotypes in language
Gender The story shows multi-dimensional images of men and women Story introduces women in various racial, social, a cultural contexts outside of the traditional view of women during the time period of the story



Apply a Critical Approach

After developing global and local connections you, the synthesizer, still need to adopt a critical approach to use as a lens. Doing so will help you focus on connecting themes you’ve established in order to tie those connections to the writing style of the author.

We know that “SFP is a work satire and so is Incognergo, so let’s start there.

Question: Can you use a single Critical Approach to connect both stories?

Gender Approach Considering how both texts depict women, you could use Gender theory to construct an argument about how the texts abandon or embrace traditional gender roles
Psychological Approach Looking at the narrators both stories and examining shared characteristics noted in the Global and Local categories related to their thoughts, hopes, and desires could be a useful lens in understanding how the author creates relatable, multi-dimensional characters
Deconstructionist Approach Both authors play with the typical super hero genre.  Using the deconstructionist lens you could argue that each author attempts to reshapes these genres for their own use


Making Connections Matter “So What?”

After developing global and local connections and selecting a clear critical approach as your theme you, the synthesizer, still need to develop why and how these connections matter to the authors’ writing style. Otherwise, your academic audience will be left saying “so what.”

Synthesis Exercise

Use this Synthesis Connection Chart to develop Global and Local connections between your two selected texts.