Comic book sound effects help

LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
edited December 1969 in The Commons

I'm going over and revising my graphic novel for publishing at the moment. I've taken a bunch of notes about what needs fixing and how but I need a little help. I've had a couple people say it's too "silent". I don't want to add too many sound effect bubbles because that seems kitchy to me but I do want to add a few important ones but I'm not sure what words to use. Could someone in the know help me?

Here's a couple scenes I need a bubble for but I have no idea what word to use.
1. A man has been grabbed around the neck from behind. He attempts to cry out for help but it doesn't come out clearly. What should his speech bubble say?

2. A man has been shot in the knee. He needs to cry out in pain somehow. What should be in his speech bubble?

3. A woman sees something surprising and gasps. Do I just write "Gasp!"?

There's probably a few more but those are the only ones I've found skimming my notes so far. I'll go through them again and post if I have anymore.

If you want to see the beta version of the novel, it's here. Thanks!

Comments

  • Knight22179Knight22179 Posts: 1,075
    edited October 2012

    I'm going over and revising my graphic novel for publishing at the moment. I've taken a bunch of notes about what needs fixing and how but I need a little help. I've had a couple people say it's too "silent". I don't want to add too many sound effect bubbles because that seems kitchy to me but I do want to add a few important ones but I'm not sure what words to use. Could someone in the know help me?

    Here's a couple scenes I need a bubble for but I have no idea what word to use.
    1. A man has been grabbed around the neck from behind. He attempts to cry out for help but it doesn't come out clearly. What should his speech bubble say?

    2. A man has been shot in the knee. He needs to cry out in pain somehow. What should be in his speech bubble?

    3. A woman sees something surprising and gasps. Do I just write "Gasp!"?

    There's probably a few more but those are the only ones I've found skimming my notes so far. I'll go through them again and post if I have anymore.

    If you want to see the beta version of the novel, it's here. Thanks!

    Hey! I saw your stuff on DA! Good stuff there. To answer your questions...

    1. Something like this maybe? "He-alllph!" ??

    2. Ah, this one's easy. He should say this, "Hngh!"

    3. A gasp would be what I would put. Or perhaps a bubble that says something like, "She sees something that makes her gasp." without actually putting only ONE word (like *Gasps*).

    This might help as well if you don't already have it. Comes with plenty of word options, especially if you want words of pain. http://www.daz3d.com/shop/comic-fx-complete

    Hope this helps.

    Post edited by Knight22179 on
  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    Thanks! That helps me out a lot. :D And thanks for looking at my novel over at DA!

    Got one more for now. I've currently got a silent Yeti. I don't think a Yeti would "roar" plus I have something else "roaring". What sort of sound would a Yeti make?

  • Knight22179Knight22179 Posts: 1,075
    edited October 2012

    Your welcome! :)

    Hmmm. Yeah, Yeti's probably wouldn't yell. I can't remember the video I saw, but I was watching something about Big Foot and someone claims to have made a recording of a very load sound that he claims a Bigfoot made (wish I could remember the name of that, I'd give you a link).

    Ah, I think I found it. A recording not the movie, though. Here: http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/sounds.php

    Now, since Big Foot is related to the Yeti, they probably make similar sounds. The first one souds like the sounds a Gorilla would make. The last two are good as well. Not sure how that would translate into words, though. Hope this helps. :)

    Post edited by Knight22179 on
  • jestmartjestmart Posts: 1,819
    edited December 1969

    In my opinion it is not so much the word/sound as it is the font/style used that has the most impact.

  • RKane_1RKane_1 Posts: 1,150
    edited December 1969

    1) "Herk!"
    2) "&#*@!"
    3) "oh my G..."

  • dylyn.prosserdylyn.prosser Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Scene 1. I'd have the choked man saying something like "Ack!" in lowercase and with breath marks. (There's a wonderful page at Blambot that goes into detail about breath marks and other comic lettering standards at Comic fonts and grammar).

    Scene 2. A man shot & crying out in pain. Definitely have him yelling "Agh!" or something, in upper case and in a jagged word balloon.

    Scene 3. A woman gasping. You could either go with a standard word balloon with breath marks and a small "Gasp!" if she's whispering, or a large "GASP!" in all caps by itself, without a word balloon, if she does it louder.

    As for a Yeti roar, I'd probably go with a "Roaaaaar!" outside of a word balloon, in a different font in all caps. If it's a loud or long roar, you can always stretch it out over several panels. I have a similar scene in one of my scripts where there is a loud volcanic eruption that the characters gradually notice & decided to do it that way.

  • StratDragonStratDragon Posts: 1,811
    edited October 2012

    this is a good article on dialog for comics, not sound effects but it does go hand in hand. A good story can be made great with the right effects, but it can just as easily be ruined.

    http://comicrelated.com/news/3416/creating-comics?dur=81

    [edit] your work look amazing btw!

    Post edited by StratDragon on
  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    Eek, for some reason I'm not getting reply notifications from the forum again! I checked and I AM subscribed to this thread. Yet another bug I guess...

    Thanks, everyone for your help! I appreciate it. :) Special thanks to dylyn.prosser and StratDragon for those links. I'm reading over both of them now.

    I thought I needed to style my dialog bubbles more and after reading those links and seeing more comments, I think I'll get to work on designing some new bubble variations that fit with the style I'm already using. Good thing I'm decent at working with vectors! I also never thought of the bubbles overlapping or going right to the border frames... that might look cool so I'll have to try it out.

    I'm sure glad I asked for help here because this is really going to improve things!

  • Knight22179Knight22179 Posts: 1,075
    edited December 1969

    (There's a wonderful page at Blambot that goes into detail about breath marks and other comic lettering standards at Comic fonts and grammar).

    I would not trust this link. When I clicked on it, it made my screen turn slightly blue. I had to restart my computer. Scanning for viruses now

  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    (There's a wonderful page at Blambot that goes into detail about breath marks and other comic lettering standards at Comic fonts and grammar).

    I would not trust this link. When I clicked on it, it made my screen turn slightly blue. I had to restart my computer. Scanning for viruses now

    When I clicked it, it took me to a "did you mean..." error page and that sent me to the right link which is http://www.blambot.com/grammar.shtml
    The problem is that dylyn.prosser accidentally put the "http://" twice which caused the error. I don't know why that would turn your screen blue though.

  • Knight22179Knight22179 Posts: 1,075
    edited December 1969

    Ahhhh, thanks Lizzie. :)

  • McGyverMcGyver Posts: 1,012
    edited October 2012

    I got shot in the thigh once with an arrow (not the same as the knee)... I think most of the sounds that came from me would be against TOS rules to repeat here.... But for the most part when I've been injured by flying projectiles (mostly debris) the first sound I make usually starts with F and end with a K.... I don't think I've ever made any traditional ouch sounds... maybe a few snarls and some angry Klingon or Badger sounds... stuff like that. Mostly it's obscenities... Some have been quite funny.

    Post edited by McGyver on
  • ShaneWSmithShaneWSmith Posts: 537
    edited December 1969

    1. "Gak...!" Note the ellipses, indicating a trailing off.
    2. "ARRRRRGH" would do it. Extra large, extra bold. Or "Nnnnnggh" if he's trying to be brave and keep it quiet.
    3. I would recommend no sound. A hand to mouth and gaping eyes should denote surprise.

    Because these sound effects are so unnatural, it's often (though not always) better to leave them out than include something that will take the reader an extra second or two to process.

    Good luck!

  • kmwkmw Posts: 62
    edited December 1969

    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.

    If the image itself says everything appropriately, then no sound is necessary. We don't need to hear 'Gasp' if the expression and pose tells us all we need to know. I don't need a man shot in the foot to tell me it hurts. I'll be able to tell by the look on his face. (And seriously, outside of Liz Lemon, who really says 'arghh'?)

    If you feel compelled to use some kind of dialogue, try to imagine what you want to convey, not some concept of what should be said. Or better yet what you'd say in the situation.

  • ShaneWSmithShaneWSmith Posts: 537
    edited October 2012

    kmw_ said:
    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.

    If the image itself says everything appropriately, then no sound is necessary. We don't need to hear 'Gasp' if the expression and pose tells us all we need to know. I don't need a man shot in the foot to tell me it hurts. I'll be able to tell by the look on his face. (And seriously, outside of Liz Lemon, who really says 'arghh'?)

    If you feel compelled to use some kind of dialogue, try to imagine what you want to convey, not some concept of what should be said. Or better yet what you'd say in the situation.

    Admittedly, I've never been shot, but whenever I bang my head, slice my hand open or stub my toe, it's always "Argh, damn it" or "Nngggh, f***" The 'sfx' is a necessary leadin to cursing in my vocabulary! :P

    I agree with what you said though, as you can see from my previous post. Definitely make sure the art stands by itself without the words, and then consider leaving the words out. (Even if you ultimately decide to leave them in, the art will be better for it!)

    Post edited by ShaneWSmith on
  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    kmw_ said:
    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.

    If the image itself says everything appropriately, then no sound is necessary. We don't need to hear 'Gasp' if the expression and pose tells us all we need to know. I don't need a man shot in the foot to tell me it hurts. I'll be able to tell by the look on his face. (And seriously, outside of Liz Lemon, who really says 'arghh'?)

    If you feel compelled to use some kind of dialogue, try to imagine what you want to convey, not some concept of what should be said. Or better yet what you'd say in the situation.

    Yeah, I'm kind of torn about it. I myself agree with you but people who make comic books and graphic novels for a living do not, from what I've seen. It's part of the comic book style, I'm told.

    I just thought I would give it a shot, put the sound effect bubble in then take a look over the whole thing and decide whether to keep them or go back to the "silent" art speaking for itself that I had before. I thought it was fine without the sound effect bubbles but after hearing from multiple people that it's not, I begin to believe it. In the end though, I'll do it the way I want to do it. That's the great thing about being the sole creator of something!

    @lordvicore

    If I get hurt I say the worst words that come to mind unless it's a really, really bad hurt in which case I am mostly silent. I stub my toe or cut my thumb with a potato peeler really bad (like yesterday) I swear like there's no tomorrow. I get my thumb shut in a car door with autolock or slip while cleaning a window and hit my knee on a trailer hitch... the sheer amount of pain takes all the breath out of me. Although getting shot in the thigh with an arrow is painful (especially if it's an old school arrow, ouch!), getting shot in the knee is said to be the most painful thing you can do to a person. I think he would just let out an odd sound rather than be able to articulate a full word or more. That's my theory anyway... I don't intend to test it out!!

  • Mr LeongMr Leong Posts: 302
    edited October 2012

    kmw_ said:
    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.


    People in real life do not make sound FX, I agree. But a comic book is not real life, it's fantasy.

    A good comparison would be with movies. There's no sound effects (or musical score) accompanying people in real life. But in horror movies, it builds up tension. In adventure movies, great sound effects can add to the audience's experience. The right musical score can even make a drama more dramatic. Instead of just experiencing the movie visually, people get to experience it auditorily. And a great sound system can make a person feel the sound vibrations. All this adds to the experience.

    Is this realistic? No. But it can greatly enhance the movie experience.

    Post edited by Mr Leong on
  • dylyn.prosserdylyn.prosser Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Sorry about the scr00d-up URL, everyone. (That'll teach me to preview my posts.)

    Anyway,

    kmw_ said:
    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.

    If the image itself says everything appropriately, then no sound is necessary. We don't need to hear 'Gasp' if the expression and pose tells us all we need to know. I don't need a man shot in the foot to tell me it hurts. I'll be able to tell by the look on his face. (And seriously, outside of Liz Lemon, who really says 'arghh'?)

    True, but we're not talking about real people in real life. We're talking about comics and representing a story with words & pictures. I've started creating the pages for my comic & I have to say it's not that easy to convey exactly what someone's feeling with gestures and expressions alone. The most important thing for any panel is that your readers can glance at it and follow the flow of the story. If they have to stop and think, "What is she supposed to be feeling?", it will interrupt that flow & take them out of the story. If sound FX help keep them focused, you should use them.

    There's also a long-standing tradition of sound FX in comics. The most iconic are the fighting sound effects in superhero comics, but just about every comic I've read uses them. They're just another tool to help a storyteller tell a good story.

  • SteveM17SteveM17 Posts: 547
    edited December 1969

    I think it's a case by case thing, some stories suit sfx, some don't. For example the classic Watchmen doesn't use sound effects, they wouldn't suit the seriousness of the story. But a more light hearted adventure or superhero story might suit them, although I'd use them sparingly myself.

    And when I hurt myself (stubbed toe sort of thing) I often go "Fffffffffff....." rather than the full swear depending on who is present. Or the always reliable "B*****d!"

  • kmwkmw Posts: 62
    edited December 1969

    Mr Leong said:
    kmw_ said:
    I'm going to be anal here but people do not make sound FX.


    People in real life do not make sound FX, I agree. But a comic book is not real life, it's fantasy.

    Well, I like to look at things from a realistic perspective in my fiction. Whether there's a dragon, a superhero or an alien invasion, if there's no grounding in reality, it's not going to work as a realistic piece of fantasy/science fiction/action adventure.

    If your comic book is not real life, well, then your audience won't be as involved as they could be, because they're going to see it the same way.

    There's nothing wrong with the approach though. There are very wealthy writers who operate from the same foundation as yours.

    A good comparison would be with movies. There's no sound effects (or musical score) accompanying people in real life.

    I'd disagree. Many of us create that soundtrack to our lives. Why do you think so many of our young drive around with the radio blasting? Or why private music systems are so popular? I have a playlist solely for pumping me up on the treadmill. Shoot, studies have shown how fast we walk or how motivated we are at work can be gauged by the music we're listening to.


    But in horror movies, it builds up tension. In adventure movies, great sound effects can add to the audience's experience. The right musical score can even make a drama more dramatic. Instead of just experiencing the movie visually, people get to experience it auditorily. And a great sound system can make a person feel the sound vibrations. All this adds to the experience.

    Film and comic books are different animals. You can't use a soundtrack (which isn't sound effect, by the way) in a comic book. But I understand what you're saying. But I will regurgitate what I said before: if the scene doesn't convey its message correctly, realistically, all the music in the world won't make it better.

  • kmwkmw Posts: 62
    edited December 1969

    The most important thing for any panel is that your readers can glance at it and follow the flow of the story. If they have to stop and think, "What is she supposed to be feeling?", it will interrupt that flow & take them out of the story. If sound FX help keep them focused, you should use them.

    If readers are doing that, the artists didn't do their job appropriately. :(

  • Mr LeongMr Leong Posts: 302
    edited October 2012

    kmw_ said:
    I'd disagree. Many of us create that soundtrack to our lives. Why do you think so many of our young drive around with the radio blasting? Or why private music systems are so popular? I have a playlist solely for pumping me up on the treadmill. Shoot, studies have shown how fast we walk or how motivated we are at work can be gauged by the music we're listening to.

    Sometimes, when someone hears a song, it brings back memories of a certain time in their life. But that specific song just happened to be there by chance during a pivotal time in a person's life. It wasn’t intentional orchestrated to enhance that time period.

    With a few exceptions (like classical music intentionally played to stimulate the brains of toddlers, or someone blaring their stereo to show off the awesomeness of their sound system), music, as played on personal music players, is for the individual only and is not used to communicate with bystanders in the immediate environment. Here, the music does not intentionally enhance any impending occurrences set to unfold for everyone around. There is no audience interaction like that between a comic creator and the reader. (In a live performance, the musician will interact with the audience with his or her music, but this doesn’t count since the music is not for FX.)


    Ok, back on the topic of comics:


    If the image itself says everything appropriately, then no sound is necessary.

    Overall I agree with this. I believe there’s no reason to add sound effects just for the sake of adding it. If the artwork can convey the story, there’s no reason to add any Adam West Batman’s Pow, Bam, etc. They may even detract from the story.

    But suppose we have a page showing people going about their business, then they suddenly stop. Everyone looks in the same direction. On the next page we have a splash page showing what everyone’s looking at.

    An artist can do an exceptional job of illustrating this. Sound effects may not be necessary. But adding a sound effect, in the panel where everyone stopped what they’re doing, can enhance the story. Did the people stop because they heard a rumbling sound, breaking dishes, sirens, an explosion, or creaking made by the ghost in the attic? It builds up the anticipation to the splash page.

    Post edited by Mr Leong on
  • Mr LeongMr Leong Posts: 302
    edited October 2012

    I thought it was fine without the sound effect bubbles but after hearing from multiple people that it's not, I begin to believe it. In the end though, I'll do it the way I want to do it. That's the great thing about being the sole creator of something!

    There are quite a few stories of disagreements between comic book artists and their editors. The artists don't like their creativity and vision stifled. But the artists were hired to do a job as an illustrator. This is not the same as having complete creative control. On the other hand, the editors know the business and realized that this is a business. And as a business, it must produce a product that is viable to the market.

    Since you're the writer, artist, and editor, you have complete control. But something to keep in mind. Are you creating this just for your own personal satisfaction? If so, you can do it any way you like. On the other hand, if you're going for mass appeal to reach the largest audience possible, then some compromise may be necessary.

    Post edited by Mr Leong on
  • warmbloodwarmblood Posts: 73
    edited October 2012

    Lizzie, your novels look great. I'm going to enjoy reading them, I know. I thought I'd offer a few quick observations:

    In a regular novel authors try to convey what is happening with all of the senses. They use dialog, but they also use narrative and description. In a graphic novel you still have dialog and the pictures take care of a lot of the rest, but they can't do it all. IMO you still need to paint a complete picture with all of the senses -- you just use a shorthand to do it. The standard shorthand for sound in a comic or graphic novel is the sound effect word/graphic. (Still no smell, taste or touch effects yet, so these have to be described in other ways.)
    .
    For example, in Journeys when David Bly is shot, the rifle is strangely silent. In my opinion this isn't reallistic. In a regular novel, would you say something about what David hears the instant before the bullets pierce his leg? The feeling of the impact? In addition to having David react by having the air knocked out of him, consider having the rifle make some noise, too.

    Another example -- earlier, when David throws the torch, it would whoosh, wouldn't it? That conveys the movement, the feel of the heat of the light and the flame. And when he finds the latch for the secret door it might click in some way, and when the secret door opens, it might make some sort of rumbling sound. You don't have to include all of these sounds, of course, but leaving them all out is rather like leaving out all of the seasoning in a stew.

    Also, not because you need them (your work is wonderful) but just because I love the sites so much, have you ever visited blambot.com and comicbookfonts.com? They have some great SFX fonts and cool inspiration. Both have many free fonts for noncommercial projects as well as amazing paid fonts. Blambot has a nice summary of Comic book grammar that has excellent tips (check out the little gasp mark in one of the early tips), and there are other articles, too. ComicBookFonts has a nice collection of tips and tricks.

    Now leave me alone. I'm going to read!

    Post edited by warmblood on
  • K T OngK T Ong Posts: 359
    edited October 2012

    Thought of adding my own suggestions with respect to the original post, but there have been so many contributions already that any new ones from me would probably be superfluous. :)

    I'm standing for the use of sound effects in comic books and graphic novels as well. It's already become part of the tradition. Even the Japanese use lots of them in their manga.

    jestmart said:
    In my opinion it is not so much the word/sound as it is the font/style used that has the most impact.

    Fully agree!

    Post edited by K T Ong on
  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    Cool, I had almost forgotten about this topic! Glad to see it's still kickin'!

    I had to take a break from my redoing of this novel to get some commercial work done but I plan to get back to it soonish. I've got everything laid out and planned (including adding sound effects according to that awesome resource on Blambot) so I just need to sit down and get the actual work done. There's just too much on my plate right now!

    BTW,
    I'm in the midst of writing a new novel that I'll get to work on illustrating once I fix Journeys. It's a spy novel set in the 1960s that I fully intend to have as much fun as possible with. I've only got a summary written so far but it looks awesome. I can hardly wait to start writing the first draft of the full story! :)

  • K T OngK T Ong Posts: 359
    edited October 2012

    I presume your graphic novel(s) will consist of rendered images, as opposed to hand-drawn ones?

    You know, I once had a dream in which I sneaked up behind Spider-Man in this costume party setting and pinched him in the butt before running away. Serious. Wonder what sound effect would suit such an event? :lol: (In my dream he jumped up with shock but made no sound.)

    Post edited by K T Ong on
  • TjohnTjohn Posts: 7,488
    edited December 1969

    I would think a "Growl" would work for a Yeti. Something like a Wookie. :)

  • TercelTercel Posts: 45
    edited December 1969

    Lizzie,

    I think Hellboy has created a comic book resource for users with a host of fantastic things in it; for the life of me I can't remember where it is though but I remember seeing it and thinking it was fabulous.

  • LizzieP_D9SLizzieP_D9S Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    K T Ong said:
    I presume your graphic novel(s) will consist of rendered images, as opposed to hand-drawn ones?

    Yeah, rendered images only with lots of postwork. I used to be able to draw quite well but I developed arthritis back in the 8th grade and haven't been able to draw much at all since without lots of pain. It's gotten a little better now though as I can hold the pen for my Bamboo tablet without much pain as long as I take occasional breaks. Writing with a pencil is still hellish though.

    @tercel
    I'll do some Googling and see what I can find. Thanks for the tip!

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