The visual tool used to represent the speech, dialogue, or conversation of the characters in the comics is called “bubble”. The meaning of speech bubbles in comics will be addressed, with emphasis on their proper use and comics grammar.
One of the most important parts of comics is character dialogue. It is one of the features of comics and it is as valuable as the images themselves. They are a great support in the narrative within the comics.
As part of the visual language of comics, bubbles are small expressions in themselves, with their own meaning. They can communicate a situation or context. Therefore, it is important the meaning of speech bubbles in comics to know how to express emotions on a dialogue, nature, the source of the speech, and sounds, for instance.
Certainly, the speech bubbles are usually added after the editing and photography of the images. However, at this point in the process for making a comic, you must have the text to be included inside the bubbles. The extension of the text has to be set during the scriptwriting, as well as, the type of bubble to be used; therefore, knowing the meaning of speech bubbles in comics ensures a better choice of each one to correctly communicate the message you want to convey.
The “basic” bubble, which often has an oval shape, is used for normal character speech. The “tail” of the bubble should generally point towards the speaker, particularly towards his mouth or the area that produces the sound.
To express a thought, an idea or that one is daydreaming, the bubble with cloud shape is the right one; though, the shape can also be oval like the basic one. But its tail is formed by a group of circles or ellipses; for example, there are 2 or 3 circles.
Besides, this bubble serves to communicate what animals, plants or things cannot say, as they “do not talk”. A cat’s meow or a dog’s bark, for example, can be represented by onomatopoeias. However, to express their internal dialogue, you can use the cloud bubble.
Rectangular bubbles without a tail are known as captions. They express what the narrator says, in such a way, they support the course of the story. In other words, this space describes in words a given situation, but which would not be attributed to a character. Sometimes they are appreciated as voice-overs. Likewise, they are used for subtitles.
Multi-edged bubbles usually represent screaming or a message out loud but the screams may have a positive or negative connotation. For example, the character is urging his team to try harder. However, the same bubble can be used to insult or express abuse.
Depending on the connotation of the message, either negative or positive, the text in its content may have variations in style: bold, larger, or different color, for instance.
On the other hand, this bubble can also vary the shape, depending on the intensity of the emotion to be expressed and the style of the comics.
This is used to represent words or sounds coming from an electronic device such as television, telephone, radio, or microphone. The tail of the bubble points towards the device and it looks like lightning. In addition, it can be used for robot and hologram dialogs.
Whispers are presented with a dashed-lined bubble. However, it also represents when saying a secret or speaking in a very low voice. Certainly, the shapes can also vary for greater flexibility.
The wavy bubble indicates that the speaker is suffering from physical weakness. Likewise, it indicates that a character is exhausted, semi-unconscious, or about to faint. So, its wavy shape reflects the weakness of the character’s voice.
If the speech or dialogue is too long or a pause is required, the text is distributed into extended speech bubbles.
Moreover, the extended speech bubble has variations. Dialogues can be interleaving but using a bridge that links the speech bubbles of the same character.
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