Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Marra Method: Traditional Comics Techniques for Visual Storytelling | 11. Use Thought balloons

An on-going, evolving series collecting my thoughts on the craft of telling stories through comic books. These posts do not document rules; these are the ideas passing through my mind when I'm making comic books.

11. Use Thought balloons

• Use Thought Balloons because they intrinsic to the language of comic books. 

• They are like a letter in the alphabet of the comic book language. 

• Use Caption Boxes to convey information you can't with Thought Balloons or Speech Balloons.

• Use Thought Balloons for internal monologues of characters, for the things you can't convey with Caption Boxes or Speech Balloons.

• A lot of mainstream books don't use Thought Balloons because they want comic books to be more like movies, where thought balloons can't exist. They want comic books to be pitches for movie content. Who can blame them when these movies make billions of dollars? The movie executives they're pitching to don't like thought balloons I guess. (It's also the reason why you see a lot of mainstream comics using "widescreen" panels. This makes it easier for movie executives to envision the comic book panels as storyboard or compositions on a screen).

• They don't use Thought Balloons because they don't want comic books to be hokey, corny or cheesy. They think Thought Balloons are dated. 
- (Side thought: I believe the lack of Thought Balloon usage in mainstream comics is evidence of the medium's inferiority complex in relation to other mainstream media—movies, TV, video games. Mainstream comic books try to forsake what makes them different and unique, like Thought Balloons. Instead they try to emulate other media elements.)

• Thought Balloons are essential.

• To not use Thought Balloons is to deny comic books' true nature and language.

• To not use Thought Balloons is to deny comic books' true power.

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