17 November 2011

“Characters were constantly speaking to themselves out loud”

At a new blog called Comics Without Frontiers, Miguel Rosa traces the development of thought balloons in the first year of Superman and Spirit comics.

[Rosa started his blog to promote discussion of comics from outside the US, but a lot of the postings are on the standard American superhero stories. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.]

This posting complements my discussion of the same topic, which watched how thought balloons developed alongside whisper balloons since early on characters often seemed to be voicing asides to the audience.

Rosa writes:
I realized that one of the reasons why thought balloons were seldom used in those years was because the characters were constantly speaking to themselves out loud, like in this panel from Action Comics #1. In many of these cases, thought balloons should have been used instead. Rather than speaking out loud, a thought balloon containing a line like, “The cops are coming; I better change to my civilian clothes!” would make more sense.
He also reprints a delightful Spirit panel which shows the hero trapped under water and saying out loud: “I...can’t... hold...my...breath... much...longer!”

Soon, however, the thought balloon became a standard part of American comics punctuation, avoiding such unrealistic moments. Because superhero comics had to be realistic.

TOMORROW: Who started the thought balloon’s hibernation over the last thirty years?

2 comments:

Miguel Rosa said...

Once again, thanks for bringing up my blog.

"[Rosa started his blog to promote discussion of comics from outside the US, but a lot of the postings are on the standard American superhero stories. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.]"

Ah, got me!

Well, I do love American comics, perhaps more than European comics, although I'm from Europe. But so far I've been trying to diversy: one post about American ones, another one about European or South American ones.

J. L. Bell said...

As I said, I got no problem with discussing comics from all over, including the US. I'm intrigued at the prospect of learning more about comics that haven’t been translated, and seeing whether artists in different cultures developed the same comics techniques or found different solutions to similar problems.

I don’t think I could have resisted the temptation to title your blog Comics Without Borders, though.