The dialogue balloons of this comics character are empty, and the reader can try to fill them in to build a story. When this exercise is proposed to students during a lesson on scriptwriting, some very interesting results emerge: first, students build a narration without noticing it, which shows that telling stories is simpler that what is commonly believed, especially when such an exercise is demystified thanks to Comic Books, a medium which has been largely ignored until now.
Also, almost every student makes the same mistake, they do not respect the rules of this medium: They write outside the lines of the dialogue balloons. A similar mistake in cinema would have a character speaking without moving his lips: indeed, the dialogue balloon is the equivalent to sound in an audiovisual medium.
Or they leave an empty dialogue balloon. In a film, it would be like having a character moving his lips but producing no sound. It might be a way to represent silent films in a comic book, but films are not silent. In any case, it breaks the basic laws of comic books.
Or they use tiny letters, often very difficult to read. In an audiovisual production, it would be like having actors speaking too low, consequently producing unintelligible dialogues.
Other codes from this medium escape comic books readers since they only perceive them implicitly. However, those codes were created at some point by authors as innovating as the first directors who decided to move the camera in order to follow the actors.
To be continued…
All the images: Craven © Daniel Tubau, 2004
Understanding New Audiovisual Media
This article is a selection of passages taken from my book, The scriptwriter’s paradoxes: rules and exceptions in the practise of a scenario (Las paradojas del guionista, Alba Editorial, 2007) aimed at people interested in scriptwriting, and narration in general. The book explores the different theories and manuals existing on the subject, while listing forty paradoxes with which a scriptwriter might be faced.
Entendiendo los nuevos medios
Las 38 paradojas del libro y algunas más
Las paradojas de Las paradojas del guionista, aunque aquí se añaden nuevas ideas y consideraciones, mostrando que incluso existen interesantes excepciones a las propias excepciones.
Reglas y excepciones (Las paradojas del guionista)
The scriptwriter’s paradoxes