A number of Canadian cartoonists (or graphic novelists) focus their work on portraying personal experiences. Using My New York Diary by Julie Doucet, Skim by Mariko Tamaki, and It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken by Seth, discuss how personal experiences are depicted both in visual terms and in narrative terms.

The clean, sober visuals in It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and Skim contrast with the personal anguish of Tamaki and Seth. The cluttered, grotesques visuals in My New York Diary compliment Julie's distressing story.

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In visual terms, It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and Skim seem to opt for a sober presentation of their characters’ experiences. Although the narratives of Tamaki and Seth aren't free from turmoil, their visuals aren’t explicitly anguished. The people in Skim are rendered in a classic black...

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In visual terms, It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and Skim seem to opt for a sober presentation of their characters’ experiences. Although the narratives of Tamaki and Seth aren't free from turmoil, their visuals aren’t explicitly anguished. The people in Skim are rendered in a classic black and white with an attention to detail. The formal visuals might connect to the academic setting of Mariko Tamaki's narrative. In Seth's graphic novel, the shadowy blues and pudgy people possibly reflect the nostalgia and melancholy that are present throughout his story.

In Julie Doucet's My New York Diary, the visuals are cluttered and rather grotesque. The characters have black smudges and exaggerated features that emphasize their distressing and frenetic plights. The messy visuals in Doucet’s graphic work contrast with the neat visuals in Skim and It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken.

In terms of narrative, the three works incorporate traditional storytelling elements. They feature multifaceted protagonists (Skim, Seth, Julie), specific settings (Catholic school, Ontario, New York), dialogue, action, and so on.

To advance the visceral, intimate qualities of their narratives, Doucet and Tamaki utilize diary entries. As a way to reinforce the personal stakes of their stories, Doucet and Seth make themselves the main characters. Seth further blurs the line between personal storytelling, fiction, and nonfiction by including other real-life people, like Chester Brown, and made-up characters such as Kalo.

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