Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm hearing voices

I have always seen comics a bit like a portable movie. There is no sound and there is no set amount of time that the comic lasts, however, there are sequential images that are seen in succession, just like a movie. When reading a comic you are hearing voices in your head, just like when reading a book. However, the voices in a book are usually determined by adjectives and verbs presented to the reader by the author: "Hold it!" he said with a deep raspy voice or "Follow me" she whispered. Unless the comic does this as well (which I have seen to my disappointment) we dont initially know how a character's voice sounds like. Instead, we gain this from looking at the characters themselves, how theyre built, as well as clothes and any other hint at how they could sound like. I have also noticed often if a specific accent is to be used the author writes the dialog the way it would sound like, such as in Lil Abner by Al Capp. The characters often have some form of dialect that to me is very difficult to understand. While reading I do hear this mountain folk talk and dialect, but the effort to read what they have to say detracts from the experience. Its like I am trying to translate a foreign language for every panel!

So how do we get the idea of someone talking quickly or quietly or however we want the reader to hear the voices in comics? In this post I will focus on the use of text with images, but I will discuss other concepts later. One concept I have noticed is that by changing font size you can change the volume of the speech. Large font size suggests LOUD speech, while small font size suggests quiet speech. Its a tool that I have never seen in books used beyond the use of CAPS LOCK. I think it works well with comics since the text is in the end part of an image, and thus not an abstract piece of narrative. This means that we treat the letters as images, and the way they are set up as well as their size makes a difference. Different Fonts also allow for different dialects or perhaps personalities which help give the voice to the reader. Text alone allows for many variations of sound within comics.

To be continued...

No comments: