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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #294

Tonight we have a Very Special Episode of 365 Reasons, as a guest columnist drops by to discuss one of his favorite aspects of comic books. Without further ado, I present you tonight’s Reason, written and drawn by Tom Russell. I think it’s totally awesome. (Archive.)


294. Thought Bubbles

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(Click to enlarge any of these to readability.)

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Man, that was cool. I always wanted to have a Reason done as a comic, and Tom’s gone and beat me to it. It’s fantastic stuff. He even provided all his links for me! Thanks, Tom!


Two questions:

What the hell is this ‘abconnect’ thing? Also, more importantly: can those penguins host the rest of the Reasons?

Seriously, bravo Bill and Tom. With the possible exception of Archie Meets the Punisher, I think this might be my favourite reason column so far.

The man’s got points.

Also, I do take a kind of psychotic thrill in how the constant use of “bubbles” will infuriate John Byrne.

I have no problem with thought thought bubbles…as long as Bendis is not the one using them.

(Yeah, that was great!)

I’ve often thought that it was stupid to make comics too cinematic. That’s totally handicapping the comic creator’s toolbox and ignores the differences between comics and film. I applaud this reason to love comics!

I thought the use of baloons in Might Avengers was awesome. A great fit for Bendis’ use of asides.

I don’t mind the captions replacing thought baloons in a book when there is one character because I think having a narrator in most comics is silly. However, I can certainly see its use in team and ensemble books.

Great post, comics shouldn’t try to ‘be more like movies’ because they simple aren’t movies. It’s a different medium and using the possibilities unique to it only enrich it. People who think thought balloons automatically mean childish comics have obviously never read a comic by Kevin Huizenga, or Lewis Trodheim’s autobiagraphical work, just to name some examples.

I think that Thought Balloons are great (though I don’t think they’re being used that well in MA). And I think this column was great today. Well thought out. Can it be published in the back of one of Scott McCloud as an appendix?

What a wonderful column!

And yet, without thought bubbles, we get entire stories such as in the recent Marvel Comics Presents #1 where Patsy Walker is walking around her apartment and talking aloud to herself.

Also, the Civil War Spider-Ham special had a pretty funny riff on the disappearance of thought bubbles.

Awesome column! But I don’t understand why Spider-man is punching Hutch Owen (hee).

The comic seems to be forgetting that not all narration need be first person from one character’s point of view. Comics can use a third person omniscient “voice” or the voice of Homer or Stan Lee or whoever to help us get into multiple characters’ heads.

And I hate Bendis’s thought ballons. His do not help character development at all. Instead of just trying to write witty dialogue, he’s now trying to also write witty thoughts, which doesn’t even make sense as there’s no audience for them in the world of the story. I’ve heard of stylized dialogue, but now we’re getting stylized thoughts? Weird.

“The comic seems to be forgetting that not all narration need be first person from one character’s point of view. Comics can use a third person omniscient “voice” or the voice of Homer or Stan Lee or whoever to help us get into multiple characters’ heads.”

This is true. What I was saying was that there are many ocassions when a caption serves the same purpose as a thought bubble, while still limiting our access to the number of characters who can “think”– and that such captions don’t follow the ‘rules’ of first-person narration, and so the conceit falls flat on its face. Someone actually telling the story, whether from a third-person omni POV or otherwise, is a whole other matter.

In a way, thought bubbles used democratically achieves the same affect as an all-knowing narrator, even if there isn’t any narration.

One person who used captions/narration extremely well in regards to delving into multiple headspaces, in my opinion, was Steven Seagal (not the actor) in his Alpha Flight run, which used second-person to devastating effect.

Great column! Maybe Bendis will inspire other writers to use thought bubbles again, and show you can have a good comic, and one that sells well, using them.

. o O (Hmm! I enjoyed this column! The comparison between thought bubbles and the dramatic “aside” had never occurred to me!)

[…] 294. Thought Bubbles (written and drawn by Tom Russell) More to come! Look for a new Reason every day! (Maybe!) […]

[…] V for Vendetta pretty much defined cinematic comics: there are no thought bubbles, no sound effects– only action and dialogue. Many comics today try to replicate cinema, but they don’t seem to do it well. The graphic novel was translated to film by the Wachowskis a couple years ago, and they did a fairly fine job. They took shortcuts, of course, and the book is better, and fuller, but the movie’s good, too. It’s just different. […]

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