More Comics Tips for Kidz! As the title of this comic reminds me, writing dialogue for comics is all about real estate. You don’t want your words to edge out your drawings and you don’t want readers to skip over a talky bubble as I always do. (I don’t think I have ever actually read a word bubble above three words in a superhero comic. But that’s my own issue.)
There’s lots of tricks for paring down the number of words (or, rather, characters; sometimes more words is actually shorter, e.g. “I get it!” vs. “I understand!”) without skimping on meaning. If you’ve ever listened to TV dialogue while reading the closed-captioning, you’ll notice some neat ones.
That said, I (fairly evidently, I think) value words over pictures, and I consistently fail to pare down my talk bubbles if I think a cut might impinge on the joke or the characterization, or if I’m feeling lazy and wan.
This particular strip, for example, is a terrible example of pithiness, from Eskimo’s stilted language use (”calmly extricate ourselves” instead of, say, “get out”) to the redundant lines about the tiles.
Which brings us to the most important rule of all. If it makes you giggle, keep it.
ESKIMO (pulling Lance under a table): Number one, look at these tiles.
LANCE: Nice tiles.
ESKIMO: Never mind the tiles. Don’t get too attached to the tiles. This place is way too expensive for us. We just have to calmly extricate ourselves from this situation…
The realtor comes over and looks at the pair crouching under the table.
ESKIMO: …without making fools of ourselves.