Consider the Speech Balloon. I have. It’s one of those all important staples of the comic/graphic novel medium. Stop and think about it, where else do you see speech balloons but in comics? And yet even people who aren’t avid comic fans can immediately identify and understand them.

It’s just another one of the many hallmarks of the medium that we’re going to break down in a series of anatomy updates.

As you know the graphic novel depends on the interplay between words and images. But you can’t overlook that for all intents and purposes the words are images too. That said they need to be incorporated into the design and layout of the page as much as characters and panels are.

v1 – note the balloon we snuck next to the buggy on the first panel

v2 – give the kids a bit more space

Sometimes it’s a tight fit, sometimes there’s plenty of space. Either way you gotta figure out the best way to fill it. Below we started changing the script and the shapes around to get a better sense of Aatu and Owen’s banter. Above it felt more like two long sentences than a conversation.

v3 – script changes put the second bubble on the top of panel 1

final – clean up the shapes and now you’re really crankin the engine

It’s an ongoing process that should happen right alongside the artwork. For instance page 2.13 the screen was initially blank giving us plenty of balloon space to work with but….

once we added the sweet graphics, people had to start talking in corners

As far as eyetracking goes, since we’re pretty taken with the concept, eyes are drawn to text naturally, so sometime you gotta use the balloon to take someone where the image wouldn’t.

At the same time there’s a danger of taking them away from the image.

yeah we never quite got this one

In the end blocking out the balloons is as much of an art as any. We out here doing the best we can. In the end it usually works out for the best.

What it comes down to is that you’re never just reading the words of 0 or any other comic, you’re using the unique skill of reading a picture.

More to come.



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