Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Typography of Comic Books

The typography involved in comic books is hard to standardize or identify, but some conventions of the genre do exist. These conventions are often in place in order to emphasis certain emotions for a reader who might not be familiar with more subtly visual language. They also exist to streamline and standardize the visuals of a comic book, making it nicer to look at and once again more easy to understand for the reader. Letterers for comic books do create visuals differences based on the lettering they are using, and the standard for emphasizing a word is italicized bold type. Do to a small amount of space to work with, a letterer for a comic book has to use the space around the type, or sometimes use an entirely different font, to convey a certain mood.

Above we can see a multitude of ways that a letterer could influence how a reader understands the comic book. The main text, “Wolverine is a jerk!!” is purposely set in a large display font to separate it from the main font so the reader understands just how angry Molly is. However, they can't place the display font on the image itself, because then it wouldn't be clear who is saying it, or where the sound comes from, so the type has to go in a speech bubble. A speech bubble is specifically created to provide white space that emphasizes the dialogue of a comic book and separates it from the illustration for easy readability. Because Molly is yelling, a smooth bubble would look out of place and reflect the mood of the dialogue poorly compared to a burst bubble.
Below, and less important to the narrative is the “joke” dialogue, set in the standard font for this comic book. Because of the length of the joke and the delivery it is also set in an alternative white space. By joining the balloons the joke is set up as the funniest part first, and the joke that requires secondary knowledge of the subject second, set so that each sentence has it own section of the joint balloon. Alternative space is also set aside for non-dialogue text.

 There are other options for using the space around the text to emphasize the way it reads. Often small text in a large speech bubble is used to create a whispered or muttered effect to the dialogue. Backstory, times, and internal monologues are all often set in square caption spaces so as not to be confused for dialogue. They are further differentiated between different styles within the type. Thoughts are almost always italicized, while times and dates are almost never. There are a number of other interesting lettering rules for comic books that differ greatly from standard rules. The use of double punctuation such as “?!” is completely acceptable, and use of double dashes is acceptable while en or em dashes are not.

Places To Get Fonts for Comic Books:

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