|Speech Balloon Placement - Do's and Don'ts|
|Comics 101 - Speech Balloons|
|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 09:30|
I'd like to talk briefly about speech balloons in comics. This is primarily because I see this essential part of comics flubbed so much - even by professionals.
Eddie Campbell suggests that artist actually do the lettering and balloon placement first and then compose their drawings around the balloons. Perhaps because most comics are not done in the way that Campbell suggests is the reason I find so many books from the “Big Two” very difficult to read.
Traditionally, in the corporate comic book industry, a script is written and the artist creates artwork from that script. Then a letterer places the speech balloons on top of the art in the “dead spaces” - or places that don’t have much acting.
Don’t get me wrong. Many times the artwork is phenomenal and the story is engaging, but the balloons are placed so clumsily on the page, it is hard to get from the front of the book to the back. This applies to the page I am going to dissect in this post. I should first mention that I have really been enjoying Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT. The story is very interesting and the brushy water color images are a breath of fresh air amidst the over rendered comic art I see in mainstream books. I met Kindt this past June and he is a gracious, kind person so, I mean him no ill will with this post.
Here are two panels from a page found in issue number two of Kindt’s Mind MGNT. They are long and wide which give it a cinematic feel. Yet the first balloon that I believe we are supposed to read is about an inch to the right of the top left corner. This wouldn’t be a problem except that the second balloon is to the left. As a Western reader I have been trained to read left to right, so to read the balloons in this way slows me down and confuses me.
In this image I have drawn arrows that show what I believe is the intended reading order of the balloons. The next panel has the reader following a “switchback” trail. We start out left to right, but then Kindt expects us to read down the left hand side of the panel. I naturally wanted to read the 5th balloon after the second because it was to the right of the second balloon.
Partially, since this is a monthly mini-series, Kindt is working with a limited page count and if he were making a longer form book, perhaps this passage would have benefited from being split into 4 panels instead of 2. Then, he could put the balloons near the top of the panels (as Brian Lee O’Mally suggests) and had us read from left to right. As it stands, the balloons seem like an after thought, which is why Campbell tells us to consider them first. Perhaps if the balloons were placed first, Kindt might have framed the images from the other side and had the read looking over the man’s shoulder instead of the woman’s shoulder.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 10:51|