2022-2023 L'IMAGE Project PI Journal
To cite this page: Taniguchi, Ai. 2023. Principal Investigator Journal #10: Thinking about Future Iterations. In University of Toronto Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment Project (L'IMAGE). Available online at https://www.lingcomics.com/pi-journal-10-future. Accessed on [date].
Journal #10: Thinking about Future Iterations
L’IMAGE PI Journal #10: Thinking about Future Iterations
Alt-Text with long description
[Page 1, Title Page]
Top of page reads: UofT L’IMAGE Project: Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment
Title over bright red banner: Principal Investigator (PI) Journal
Subtitle under red banner: Journal #10: Thinking about Future Iterations
Hand-written text reads L’IMAGE 2. 2 is drawn as a bubble letter. A manga effect depicts sudden abrupt movement of the 2 bubble letter (i.e., as if it got slapped on there).
Bottom right of page: University of Toronto Mississauga logo and University of Toronto logos are visible.
[Long description of text and images in the comic strip:]
The comic strips in the L’IMAGE comic series uses the font Ames, which is the standard font for comics. Ames is an all-caps font. However, Alt-Texts for this project are not written in all-caps so that they will be more accessible for screen readers.
The comic artist for the series is Dr. Ai Taniguchi. Her drawing style can be described as: Japanese manga inspired, cute, large eyes, intentionally sketchy and unpolished line art, simplified, expressive. The comic strips are all digital, but she uses a pen that mimics the line weight of a traditional fountain pen. Her line art is on average 0.5mm in width (relatively thin), but the line weight varies and looks hand-drawn.
The title page of each comic strip is in color. It has a University of Toronto color scheme: navy blue, light blue, and bright red. The background is white with a navy blue frame. The references page and the “About the L’IMAGE project” page also have this University of Toronto color scheme.
The comic strips themselves are black and white, and employ digital screen tones for shading and backgrounds. Narrations are inside rectangular boxes unless otherwise noted.
Note: Ai’s drawings in this comic is generally very simplified. Her brush strokes are thicker than usual.
Top panel: A simplified Ai is pointing up with the index finger of her right hand. The hand-written text that she is pointing to reads: “Some manga artists on Insta have really good stories about multilingualism, e.g., @hirokokokoro”.
Ai’s narration: I didn't know what exactly to expect going into this project! To my knowledge, there hasn't been a project like this in linguistics before where the researcher created comics for public linguistics communication. (There are many non-linguist comic artists who share (auto-) ethnographic stories related to language of course!)
Bottom panel: A mouthless Ai is giving a thumbs up and is poking out from the right side of the panel, defying gravity. Hand-written text depicting her thought or speech reads, “10/10 would do again”.
Ai’s narration: The project mostly went as planned, and I'm happy with a lot of the decisions I made.
- RA with knowledge in sociolinguistics
- Collaboration with International Education Centre
- Going big with digital art equipment
- Having expert consultants
- Having a generous compensation for consultants
- Pizza party for students
- The questions asked in application form and interviews
- Communicating with students closely when making comics
- Doing the recruitment during the academic year (not summer)
- Behind-the-Scenes PI journals
Top panel 1: A spotlight is on Ai, and she is poking her head out from the bottom of the panel. We can’t see her nose or mouth. Hand-written text depicting her thought or speech reads, “Things I wish I knew”.
Ai’s narration: But it was also a learning experience! Here are eight things I would do differently for future iterations of the L'IMAGE project.
Top panel 2: Ai has a perplexed expression. Hand-written text depicting her speech or thought reads, “Hmm I need someone with expertise in this dialect…”.
Ai’s narration: #1: Ask for more money for expert consultations.
I budgeted for one expert per language, but I definitely needed more than one expert for some topics!
Bottom panel 1: A drawing of the lingcomics.com website, and a computer mouse.
Ai’s narration: #2: Ask money for 2nd RA (Web designer)
I think generally, having a larger team of RA's would be helpful, so there is a division of labor.
My RA did so much for me this time around!
Bottom panel 2: A hashtag that says #limage, the TikTok logo, and the Instagram logo.
Ai’s narration: #3: Ask money for 3rd RA (social media manager)
There were things I wanted help with, like making social media captions, choosing the right hashtags, planning the posts (e.g., knowing the best time to post something on Instagram, etc.), and making Reels/Tiktoks.
Top panel 1: A drawing of a Wacom Cintiq tablet and pen. Hand-written caption reads, “A bigger tablet for RA”.
Ai’s narration: #4: ask money for equipment for RA
Top panel 2: A mouthless Ai is pointing to one of the pages from Dr. Mary Ann Corbiere’s Nishnaabemwin lesson comic. Hand-written text depicting Ai’s speech or thought reads, “Like the Nishnaabemwin one”. It appears that Ai (the actual artist) forgot to shade Ai (the character)’s hair with screentone in this panel.
Ai’s narration: #5: Maybe do the "5-Minute linguistics" part as comics too?
Bottom panel 1: Ai has her hands cupped around her mouth as if amplifying her voice. Her mouth is drawn like a backwards 3, depicting that she is making a labial sound. There is a sweating Twitter logo bird next to her. Ai is saying, “Twitter boo hiss”.
Ai’s narration: #6: maybe stick to just Instagram (maybe try TikTok too)
Instagram was by *far* the best social media platform for comics because it's made for posting images.
Bottom panel 2: Ai is thinking with her right hand on her chin, saying “hmm”. She is looking at a drawing of the YouTube logo.
Ai’s narration: Facebook is no good because a lot of young people don't use it, and a lot of people use it for staying connected with family and other people in their close network.
Twitter was awful for comics because it has a 1000-character limit for alt-text, which was wildly insufficient for comics. (Instagram doesn't have a limit!)
(I do hear that Youtube is the next big social media platform, but I'm not quite sure how I'd share comics on Youtube!)
Top panel 1: On the left, four comic pages, although the contents are indiscernible. Hand-written caption above it reads, “make a bunch”. A right arrow is next to this image, pointing to a drawing of the Instagram logo. To the upper right of it, there is a plus sign icon, which is the upload icon on Instagram. Hand-written caption above it reads, “release later”.
Ai’s narration: #7: I would make the first draft of the comics and "5-Minute Linguistics" lesson in one batch
Top panel 2: This panel is just text.
Ai’s narration: About #7: Here was the timeline of the project this time.
Aug (2022): Project prep
Sep: Participant recruitment
Oct: Selection of stories
Nov: Interview of students
Jan (2023): ~2 comics** drafted
Feb: 2 comics posted, ~2 comics drafted
March: 2 comics posted, ~1 comic drafted
April: 1 comic posted, ~2 comics drafted
May: 2 comics posted, ~6 comics drafted
June: 4 comics posted
July: 1~2 comics posted
Footnote at the bottom reads; (** “Comic” = comic + infographic + PI Journal”
Bottom panel 1: A drawing depicting the things Ai does in a typical semester: Teaching, Service, Research, Grading. In one instance, Ai is seen pointing to what looks like a whiteboard that says “LIN237”. In another, she is on her laptop. Another image shows a paper labeled “Quiz 1”, and there is a hand holding a pen, making check marks on the quiz.
Ai’s narration: Something that is doable in the summer when I don't teach but was much harder to keep up with in the Fall and winter was consistently making the comics and posting them weekly as they become ready.
Bottom panel 2: Ai wearing sunglasses an a striped tank top, giving a thumbs up with her left hand.
Ai’s narration: So next time, ideally, a large bulk of the comic creation process should take place in the Summer (May~Aug) when I don't teach.
Top panel: Ai’s eyes are closed, depicted as horizontal lines, and her mouth is cat-like. She has her arms crossed, and hand-written text above her depicting her speech or thought reads, “Perhaps 13 was ambitious, no regrets tho”.
Ai’s narration: I would say making up to 2 comics a month would be a very doable, comfortable pace in the summer. So that's 8 comics I would make in the summer, to be shared in the fall and winter.
Bottom panel: This panel is just text.
Ai’s narration: So provided that I have enough funding, this is the ideal schedule for sustaining the project:
Sep (2023): phase 2 prep
Oct: phase 2 prep
Nov: phase 2 prep
Dec: phase 2 prep
Jan (2024): phase 2 recruitment
Feb: phase 2 story selection
Mar: phase 2 interviews
May: Make 2 comics (phase 2)
Jun: Make 2 comics (phase 2)
Jul: Make 2 comics (phase 2)
Aug: Make 2 comics (phase 2)
Sep (2024): Post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 prep
Oct: post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 prep
Nov: post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 prep
Dec: post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 prep
Jan (2025): Post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 recruitment
Feb: post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 selection
Mar: post 1 comic (phase 2), phase 3 interviews
May: Make 2 comics (phase 3)
Jun: Make 2 comics (phase 3)
Jul: Make 2 comics (phase 3)
Aug: Make 2 comics (phase 3)
Top panel: Ai has her left arm crossed in front of her, and her right hand is on her chin, as if she is thinking. Hand-written text depicting her speech or though reads, “e.g., We didn’t get Jamaican Patois last time, let’s list it as an especially wanted story”.
Ai’s narration: This brings me to #8: Something that I could maybe do is think about what languages we want stories about, and have my RA's do some of the background research on those languages in the fall. That way, a lot of the work for the infographic would be done already.
Bottom panel: A mouthless Ai is giving a thumbs up with her right hand. Hand-written text depicting her speech or though reads, “Work smarter”.
And then during recruitment in the winter, I could encourage submissions from users of those
languages. I think I would still encourage submissions from other languages too, but at least this way, some of my work later will be easier.
Top panel 1: A spotlight is one a character with curly hair, wearing a turtleneck sweater. It’s probably Iben from the L’IMAGE comic series. She is holding a pen and a page of a comic.
Ai’s narration: Oh an anonymous reviewer asked me, why didn't I let the student participants make their own comics? They thought self expression would be preferable for them in a project like this.
As I discussed in another journal, I do work very closely with the students when making the comics, so the comics are self-expression still, I hope!
Top panel 2: A mysterious drawing of some creature. It has an oval body and a small round face, and what appears to be two antennas. The body has two yellow stripes. Four horizontal lines behind it indicate that it is moving at a fast speed. The drawing is literally as we just described; there literally are no other details, not even wings or legs or a face. Handwritten caption reads, “ “Bee” (in quotation marks) drawn by my partner…”
Ai’s narration: My Other thoughts:
1. Making comics is not as simple as some people think it is;
2. I wanted a wide range of people to participate in this, not just people with artistic inclinations and/or interests; and
Bottom panel 1: Ai is holding a megaphone and letting a person wearing a hijab (perhaps Meryem from the L’IMAGE series) speak into it.
Ai’s narration: 3. I think there is something to be said about the student's labor: they're already being generous to us by sharing their story with us to educate the public. I think one way for me to be their ally is to use my expertise to amplify their story and reduce their workload in their daily battle to be heard.
Bottom panel 2: This panel is just the narration box.
Ai’s narration: That isn't to say we can't have a version of L'IMAGE where students make their own comics, or at least an option to do so! It would definitely take more time and planning though.
This would also require more training on my part or collaboration with someone from biomedical communications and/or visual arts at U of T, since I don't necessarily know how to teach people how to draw and make comics.
Top panel 1: A single page of a blank comic, with a handwritten caption that says “Just one comic.” To the right of it, there is a squiggly line used for indicating the range of something. To the right of this, a book with the title “L’IMAGE” written on the cover. Hand-written caption above it reads, “Entire book!”.
One of the good things about this project is that it is scalable: there could be smaller and bigger versions of it.
Top panel 2: Ai is sticking her head out from the bottom right of the panel, and has a slight smile.
Ai’s narration: Plus, there could be different themes for each phase of the project, because language intersects with many different aspects of people's lives and identities.
- Language and race
- Language and gender
- language and 2SLGBTQIA+ identities
- language and neurodiversity
- Language and academics
- Language and immigration
- language and mental health
- Language and current events
... and more!
Bottom panel 1: A simple drawing of two people smiling. One has medium colored bob length hair, and has light skin. The other has darker skin and very short, dark hair.
Ai’s narration: And this project is infinitely repeatable, because there will always be new people with new stories to tell.
Bottom panel 2: Ai is smiling and poking out from behind one of the narration boxes, and is grabbing the narration box.
Ai’s narration: This project is doable in fields that are not linguistics, too! I hope other creative educators will consider doing something like L'IMAGE.
Next time, I want to tell you some of my final thoughts about this phase of the L'IMAGE project!
Text at the bottom reads, “See you next time!”.
Page title: About the L’IMAGE project
Project PI and comic artist: Ai Taniguchi, Assistant Professor, UTM Department of Language Studies
Research Assistant: Haili Su, MA Student, UTSG Department of Linguistics
Special thanks to: Gilbert Lin, Assistant Director, Intercultural & Global Initiatives, UTM International Education Centre
With the generous support of: UofT International Student Experience Fund, UTM Department of Language Studies, UTM International Education Centre
Learn more: http://www.lingcomics.com
Bottom right of page shows the University of Toronto Mississauga logo and the University of Toronto logo.