Ideally we could do away with the pictures too. Illustrations don’t scream “serious” to me.
Putting thoughts in caption boxes probably gives the artist a lot more leeway with what they can draw, rather than making sure to leave space around the head.
We don’t think like how we speak, so I don’t see a need to present them in the same way.
I feel like putting the text in captions also puts you inside the character’s head in a way that isn’t quite true for thought bubbles, which literally look like an externalised version of the character’s thoughts (and so emphasises the fact that you’re seeing them from the outside).
With captions that sit in a more abstract way on the page, you read them as though you’re actually inside the character’s head, rather than just getting a glimpse of what’s inside their head.
I wonder if there’s a way to portray thoughts through images with texts, because it seems closer to how we think. Like some small insert panels, maybe with words as part of the art?
If I remember correctly, Marvel had a soft policy of not using thought bubbles in the early 2000’s under Quesada. It was meant to give comics more of a film-like quality as their equivalent in film, the voice-over, is often thought to be lazy and that the artist couldn’t properly show what was happening through the visuals given.
I’ve seen this done before, but I can’t think where. Waid’s Impulse?
Different medium, but videogames have done this quite a lot (partly because it avoids the need for translation, I think).
Theme Park springs to mind for its early use of emoji-type graphics to let you know what your customers were thinking:
I have seen it done in comics before, but it’s not hugely common. It’s a technique I like though. Although I guess it’s a bit limited in terms of how subtle it can be in conveying an idea.
I think that’s something that is done in some kinds of manga.
I feel like there must be examples for this in Empowered, but can’t find them at a quick google…
There’s a distancing effect from using first person narrative captions rather than thought balloons and it makes it feel closer to voice over narration in film and TV (which so many comics writers try to emulate). It puts you closer to one character, but pulls you away from the rest, centralising the narrative.
I also think the change is because there’s more of a difference now between what is written as spoken dialogue and what is just interior thought. Speech and though bubbles were used almost interchangably at times back in the silver age especially, because I don’t think writers like Stan Lee saw any real difference between having a character interior monologue or talk to themselves out loud.
EDIT to add: also, captions rather than thought balloons mean you can carry on the narration when the character’s not on panel and play around with omniscience more.
Yeah, Impulse used to get it a lot in his solo series and in Young Justice.
This is a key point to bear in mind, I think. Maintaining a single person’s point of view is a perfectly valid writing technique, but that’s not the only way to write a narrative. If you want points of view from inside multiple characters’ heads, then maybe thought bubbles are the best way to go. I know you can get multi-character thought captions, typically colour coded or with some icon to identify who is thinking, but there’s a limit to how many characters you can do this for without getting horribly confusing. (Good luck using that technique for the Legion of Super-Heroes .) In such a situation, I can’t honestly see how caption boxes are an improvement over thought bubbles.
[quote=“davidm, post:777, topic:319, full:true”]
This is a key point to bear in mind, I think. Maintaining a single person’s point of view is a perfectly valid writing technique, but that’s not the only way to write a narrative. If you want points of view from inside multiple characters’ heads, then maybe thought bubbles are the best way to go. I know you can get multi-character thought captions, typically colour coded or with some icon to identify who is thinking, but there’s a limit to how many characters you can do this for without getting horribly confusing.[/quote]
I loved it when Marvel’s Wha… Huh? issue took the piss out of the use of this technique in DC’s Identity Crisis:
Totally agree. The Stephanie Brown Batgirl series had two concurrent streams of narration (Steph and Barbara) with colour-coded boxes, but it still got incredibly confusing, as they would overlap and interweave. It was a clear sign that the book’s writer was from TV and not experienced in comics, as it’s a technique that would work perfectly well on screen, but not on the page.
Comics, like screen, are a visual medium, and unless there’s a stylistic reason, or you really, really can’t get out of an impossible hole, thought bubbles and captions, along with dumb exposition, should be eliminated. It’s only when you set your constraints that true creativity blooms.
For instance, Saladin Ahmed’s Black Bolt is almost unreadable because there are so many captions, most of which are unnecessary because the art already does the work. Captions work well for Postal, when Mark is narrating because he has Aspergers, and we need to ‘see’ how he thinks. An example of captionless and complex that works well is Ryan K. Lindsay’s Beautiful Canvas, which gives the reader the credit to be able to work things out.
I reckon lazy captions are another symptom of writers taking on too many titles simultaneously, stopping them from working their craft.
Counterpoint: take Watchmen, which is (rightly) lauded as one of the most visually-rich pieces of comic art ever produced, and delete all the thought captions*. See if it’s still just as good a piece of work.
. * Just because it’s framed as a “journal” doesn’t mean it’s not a thought caption.
Which is why…
Ok, fair point.