August 12, 2007

Text Triage Unit no. 2: The Illustrated Safety Manual

Yesterday someone mentioned that seeing a direct visual comparison of good and bad comic text would probably be more helpful to a bunch of artists than reading a page and a half of bitching about it. So for all of you visual learners out there, here's a quick illustrated guide to How Not to Screw Up Your Comic's Text.

Brad and Janet Noir, our unhappy couple from last time, will demonstrate.

1. Don't make your text too small.

2. Don't use an inappropriate font.

3. Don't condense your linespacing or letterspacing.

4. Don't put too much text in a single balloon.

5. Don't treat your balloons as if they were shrink-wrap for the text.

6. Don't carve your balloon into a jigsaw around the text, either.

7. Don't break up your text in unnatural ways.

8. And lastly, don't leave your text aligned to the left.

Hopefully why you shouldn't do any of these things is self-evident.

Just in case it's not, though, I'll explain: it looks like pure hell, and it makes it harder for me to enjoy reading your comic.

And I really, really want to enjoy reading your comic.


Zaron said...

Great update. Good to have a visual aid to go by.

Meredith Lewis said...

Thanks, Zaron.

Dentu said...

Thanks, this is actually very useful for me. I jumped right into comic production without really knowing what I was doing to start with, and I'm finding this stuff pretty enlightening.

I don't suppose I could sollicit your help, could I? I've been trying my damndest to get better at all this, going so far as to take a four month hiatus a while ago just to take a class and practice properly utilizing Photoshop and studying some of the better artists in the comic book industry.

Ben said...

You should talk about crossing bubbles too:

I friggin hate reading crap like this. Set your characters up so you can do a decent back and forth without people having the untangle the mess of lines. If that's not possible, you probably have too much dialogue for too few panels.

loftin said...

Very nice. Short and sweet (and visual) is sometimes the best route.

Meredith Lewis said...

Dentu, I'm not willing to do individual critiques right now, but there are a couple of internet forums that center around comic creation and critique. You might try asking for advice there.

Ben, crossing bubbles were already on my list of things to hate on in the next post, don't worry. Do you mind if I use that strip you linked to as an example?

Thanks, loftin. Glad to see you stuck around.

ben said...

sure, use it. I find that strip does it a lot.
And sorry, I didn't even notice "Next time: Dialogue Balloons" until after I posted my comment. I didn't mean to jump the gun ;)

Lepas said...

it would actually be nice to provide a range of font sizes per dpi for newbies. Something they can start out with and then branch out from once they decide what is working best for them.

Raz said...

Thank you so much for your tips! I'm going to be starting a webcomic soon (this one's getting a lot of careful thought and heart put into it), and I'm not letting it become a screwup. This helps immensely in going in the right direction. I would have been clueless about the speech bubbles otherwise. Thank you!

Tropylium said...

Hey Meredith,
This is excellent work you're doing here! I have also noticed, especially during marathon arkive-cramming sessions, that some webcomics (indeed including some of your previous examples) seemingly need more effort to read than others - but was never really able to quantify why this is so. And yet, this is pretty self-evident once you point it out. Cheers!

Cliff said...

Hey, an excellent blog, and useful (especially given the growing popularity of Your Webcomic Sucks).

I wanted to start a blog like this, but have neither the time nor the talent, so I'm glad to see you're filling the niche capably.

Anonymous said...

This is great! thank-you.

Anonymous said...

I've never done a comic and I have absolutely no artistic skills (other than writing) but this was entertaining to read all the same.

I don't know why, but I just love to read about why things suck. I guess so i can laugh at it

Easter said...

for fuck's sake wheres the next entry : (

this is seriously a useful blog and now i look like an idiot for telling people OH READ THIS.

loftin said...

You forgot about the "plus some change" part of the last update, eh?

Eli said...

I agree with this blog for the most part! However, I would argue that if you know the rules, then you can break them when the situation calls for it. FOR INSTANCE: Achewood doesn't use a comicky font, alligns left, and jigsaw-puzzles around text. YET IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COMIC IT FEELS SO RIGHT.

Easter said...

"You forgot about the "plus some change" part of the last update, eh?"

that wasn't there when I posted or if it was my browser is a shit

loftin said...

Well, it's kind of moot, since it has been a week and a half now.

It should be worth it once it gets going again, though. Hope your friends can hold out.

Anonymous said...
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eve said...

hey! same here, very usefull