The Elements of Comics Style

Writing is awash in conventions: Start a sentence with a capital letter. End a sentence with a period, question mark, or exclamation point. Don't hyphenate after an adverb that ends in "-ly." And on and on.

All that stuff is my stock-in-trade. So I was delighted to discover (by way of reader Joel Blum, of Paris -- thanks, Joel!) that comic-book letterers have their conventions too: Point the balloon tail at the character's mouth. Use burst balloons only for screaming. Use hollow sound effects when you need impact but have serious space constraints.

If I hadn't read all the way to the end of Nate Piekos's "Comics Grammar and Tradition" page, I would have missed wonderful information like "Old-school telepathy balloons look like a thought balloon except they have breath marks on opposing corners" and "Traditionally, whispered dialogue is indicated by a balloon with a dashed stroke. More recently accepted options are ..." 

An irresistible time-waster.



Presented by

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Entertainment

Just In