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Gimme Five

Banes at 12:00AM, June 22, 2017

Gimme Five - Senses in comics

Comics are a one-sense medium. Or web comics are, at least. I suppose print comics have a physical touch sensation, as my ink-stained and paper-cutted fingers can attest.

But I'm talking about In-Story sensation. Sight is the only sense automatically being engaged in a comic. Film has an audio component, of course.

Futurama introduced the concepts of “the Smell-o-scope” and “Smell-O-Vision”, but we're not there yet.

So to move outside of the one sense in a comic requires us to fake it.

Sound is suggested by dialogue and printed sounds effects or “Onomatopoeia” - words created to approximate sounds. Bang, Crack and Fzzzzz and such.

Even then, it can be easy to forget that these printed approximations are supposed to translate to actual sound for the characters. Some sequences will be eerily quiet to the characters. Some will be uncomfortably loud.

Touch is another big one - through frames and angles chosen, and the characters' facial expressions, we can see the impact of gentle skin on skin contact or the effects of wind and temperature.

Taste and Smell, too - I guess it comes down to seeing the expression on characters' faces to get a picture of what they are experiencing outside of the sense of sight.

Do you think about the “other four” senses when you create comics? How do you engage those senses on your pages? Is there a comic or web comic you thought captured Sound, Taste, Smell or Touch particularly well?

Okay, I'm out. Smell ya later!




bravo1102 at 5:52PM, June 22, 2017

I think it's very clever or happy coincidence that the newspost before this one has an image with a cleverly done sound effect. The "creak" of door hinges superimposed on those very hinges.

Avart at 5:10PM, June 22, 2017

I think that this is a very important thing on comics, but sometimes (or many times) is an element barely exploited. I try to transmit my character's feelings through the eyes mainly, but the overall facial expression is very important to me. Little details (such as sweat, or an eyebrow out of position) help me to go beyond a simple cute face. As for sounds, I use the onomatopoeia written in "katakana" but translated to tell the reader the exact sound that I'm trying to achieve (like "open" or "giggle") but sometimes I use an onomatopoeia to describe a situation (like being scared or nervous), not necesarily a sound effect.

stinger9 at 8:28AM, June 22, 2017

Do I think of those 4? Yes. Do I actually implement them in some meaningful way? Probably not!I would say, to add to the touch part with temperature, colour temperature can mean a lot too. A richer orange-y colour gives the idea of a warmer environment, etc. One thing I like with sound, that a lot of people don't think about, is the characters voices. I like when there are little details about how someone's voice sounds, stuff as simple as an offhand comment about how shrill someone's voice, or in one example I can think of, how "girly" their voice is, it can help build up that sound aspect in your mind, it goes beyond just reading, and almost more like you can hear it in your mind!

KimLuster at 6:56AM, June 22, 2017

I've 'touched' (harhar) quite a bit on this in the Godstrain...! Also introduced the concept of synesthesia, where a phenomenon triggers a sense we wouldn't expect (ie. you hear the Color Red as a Bell-tone in F-sharp, or smell chocolate when touching something soft...). This has enabled me to transform certain sensations to visual stimuli (very helpful for a one-sense web comic). Kimber Lee has 'seen' several smells (Eli's smell was always a dank green...). 'nuther great article Banes!!

ozoneocean at 12:47AM, June 22, 2017

Yes I do, and even more: cold, hot, being sick, being off balance, dizziness, foreboding etc, those are sense you can try and fake as well in various ways. I've tried all that in Pinky TA at various points. It's interesting to experiment.

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