Importance of Words

The web comic project we’ve been working over the last couple of weeks made me begin to question the use of words in a comic, and how they come into play. My role in this project was helping decide on the script and where in the comic the words should go.

A quick Google search on the purpose of text in comics brought me to this article. It talks about the different types of text and how it can be used within a comic.

For example, a text bubble can be used to show a character’s speech, thought, reaction – any linguistic element relating to whatever the bubble is pointing to.

However – the text doesn’t always have to be in a bubble, leading to the question of what goes where and why. The fact that text in a comic relates to the character in the frame is innately known.

The other form of text is that of narration – which means that the text can literally go anywhere, not just in a frame, but in the page as a whole.

Here, the narration is everywhere – it’s confined to individual frames, but it’s placed wherever there’s white space. You can see that it’s separated in the first panel, but it has free reign in the rest of the comic.

All of this led me to question HOW you decide what goes in these places. There’s a fine line between what can be shown through pictures and what must be spoken. Actions, for example, can be shown rather than narrated. Thoughts and emotions can be either shown or written, and that’s where it gets tricky. OR that same emotion can be shown through a combination of text and artwork.

Rather than saying that the yellow-haired character is stressed out, the text shows how flustered she is, and the facial expression shows how exasperated she is.

So, while working on the web comic, this all struck my interest and whether other people had wondered about it as well. The different types and locations of text in a comic is fascinating to me, and I’m constantly interested in how much creative freedom authors of comics have.