Comics Terminology

from: Writing For Comic Books

Panels The images that are usually laid out within borders are known as panels. The layout of the panels can be in a grid. Watchmen was notable for utilizing a nine panel grid of three rows and three columns. Occasionally, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons would use larger panels that broke the format of the grid to emphasize specific acts or points in the narrative. Other techniques of representation used within comics are: the speech bubble; the thought balloon; the narrative box; and the style of lettering. Panel frames The border or edges of a panel, when drawn, are called frames. These are normally rectangular in shape, but this shape can be altered to convey information to the reader. A cloud shaped panel can indicate a flashback or a dream sequence, whilst one with a jagged edge can be used to convey anger or shock. A panel without a frame is used to convey space. The frame itself can be formed by the image. For example, a scene can be framed by a door frame or by binoculars. Bleed Full bleed is usually used on a comic book cover, and is when the art is allowed to run to the edge of each page, rather than having a white border around it. Bleeds are sometimes used on internal panels to create the illusion of space or emphasize action. This is more common in manga and modern comics. The Bleed of DC Comics' Multiverse takes its name as a pun on this term.

Splash page Splash page or sometimes referred to simply as a "splash", is a full page drawing in a comic book. A splash page is often used as the first page of a story, and includes the title and credits. Splashes that are not on the first page of a story are sometimes called interior splash pages. Interior splashes may, or may not include titles and/or credits. A panel that is larger than others on the page is called a splash panel. A splash that appears across two pages of a comic book is called a "double splash" or a twopage spread. Rarely, splash pages will stretch over more than two pages; such multi-page spreads often take the form of foldout posters. Speech balloon, word balloon, speech bubble The speech or word balloon (also known as a speech bubble), is a graphic used to assign ownership of dialogue on a particular character. Bubbles which represent an internal dialogue are referred to as "thought balloons". The shape of the balloon will indicate the type of dialogue contained, with thought balloons being more cloud-like and connected to the owner by a series of small bubbles. Speech bubbles are more elliptical, although those used to represent screaming or anger tend to be spiky, and square boxes have been used to represent dialogue spoken by robots or computers. Whispers are usually represented by balloons made up of broken lines. Surprised thoughts in japanese Manga are usually round and tend to spike out. Balloons such as radio, or TV, may be represtented by a spiked ballon. Certain creators are particularly renowned for their inventiveness with the format of the balloon; writer and artist Dave Sim (who also letters his own work), is particularly innovative with this aspect of the comic book - for example, a balloon containing dialogue which is spoken coldly will often have depictions of small icicles hanging from it. Captions

See also: Speech balloon Comic book captions are a narrative device, often used to convey information that cannot be communicated by the art or speech. Captions can be used in place of thought bubbles, can be in the first- second- or thirdperson, and can either be assigned to an independent narrator or one of the comics' characters. Simply put, they are: "Boxes on a comic book page that contains text... While sometimes used to convey dialogue, they are more often used to impart a character's thoughts or as a narrative device."[26] Like word balloons, they need not be of uniform shape, size, design or color (indeed, some modern comics use different colors to assign different textual captions to different characters). Motion lines Motion lines, also known as "speed lines", are lines that are used to represent motion. Like in some pictures if a person or some other mobile thing in moving the 'Motion Lines' will follow in short, straight lines behind it. Gutter The gutter is the space between borders. Scott McCloud identified the gutter as one of the most important narrative tools in comics, invoking as it does a procedure McCloud defined as closure.[27] Symbolia Mort Walker defined in his book The Lexicon of Comicana, the iconic representations used within comics and cartooning as "symbolia".[28] Examples being the lightbulb above a character's head to indicate an idea, the indication of sleep by a saw cutting a log or a line of "zzzz", Kirby dots, and the use of dotted lines

to indicate a line of sight, with daggers being used instead of dotted lines to indicate an evil look.