Speech balloons

•Will Eisner: “The balloon is a desperation device. It attempts to capture and make visible an ethereal element: sound” (Comics and Sequential Art 26).

•John Updike: “that two-dimensional irruption into the panel’s three-dimensional space, invisible to its inhabitants and yet critical to their intercourse” (“Cartoon Magic” 40).

•Douglas Wolk: “comics aren’t just more visual than prose; they’re less verbal. Comics can get across the image of a physical setting or person or object or any other visual phenomenon much more easily than prose—they can just show it—but dialogue, or anything nonvisual that needs to be described or explained, takes up an awful lot of space very quickly in comics form. More than 150 words or so on a six-panel page, and things start to look pretty crowded” (Reading Comics 25-6). Left: Why won’t you let me see what the drug store looks like?

•David Carrier: they are “visible to the reader but do not lie within the picture space containing the depicted characters. . . . The speech balloon is a great philosophical discovery” (The Aesthetics of Comics 4). He continues, “Comics thus solve the problem of other minds only at the cost of dissolving it. The balloon must be attached to something, whether person or alien, capable of thinking. Car tires go ‘Screech’ and bombs ‘Boom!’ but only beings capable of thought . . . can have balloons attached to them” (32-33).

Left: In the second panel from the first story of One Hundred Demons, we notice Lynda’s grandmother’s Tagalog exclamations. If the speech balloon is opaque and blocks our view of the environment, then these exclamations (for the moment) are doubly opaque: their meaning is obstructed.
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