Friends With Boys - Page 193

Returning things and letting them go.

Hey, comic makers! If you haven’t already, you should read this nifty article on the proper placement of speech bubbles. It’s something I’ve been very interested in lately, and something creators should be concerned about, if they want to make a comic that is easily accessible to all kinds of readers, not just a sophisticated comic book reader. I remember reading a book review on a blog, and the writer commenting that she didn’t like graphic novels because she wasn’t able to follow the speech bubbles in any kind of order. Comments like that always make me clutch my pearls, because I know what she means and that she’s probably read some badly composed comics.

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16 Responses

  1. Random Guy says:

    Won’t that set off the pressure switch again?

  2. Hans says:

    Issue resolved

  3. Ed Sizemore says:

    I know a few artists that place the word balloons into the panel first to avoid the conflicts Jesse is talking about.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      I draw my balloons by hand, so they’re always a part of the panel composition. So much to think about when you draw comics! It’s not easy! ;)

    • Jesse says:

      Hey Ed — that technique always works (and is hugely appreciated) when working with a letterer. But I should emphasize that all good letterers can work around those placement challenges. I just took that blog post as an opportunity to show off my mistakes. :)

  4. SamE says:

    While it’s good to try to make reading comics as easy as possible, I think putting the bubbles at the top of the panels as much as possible can have some serious problems. Sometimes when I read comics that do that, I can completely miss the drawings in a panel, it feels way to much like a book and not enough like a comic.
    Thanks for posting the article. I’m hoping to start a comic of my own at some point. So the more knowledge the better! :)
    Also, I LOVE Friends with Boys! I’m so excited to get the book version. Do you think there may be opportunities in the future to get it signed?
    ((Sorry this comment is so long TT_TT))

  5. nem0 says:

    I think I stopped focusing on writing/drawing comics in favor of writing prose because there’s so many more complications in drawing a story. Do the bubbles read in the right order, with the correct emphasis on the right words, so it reads with the proper rhythm? Is the pacing off because I have 5 panels on this page instead of 6? This panel is supposed to be dark, but if it’s dark, it throws the whole feel of the rest of the page off, so maybe it should be in color so that balances better? SCREW IT, I’M STICKING TO WORDS FROM NOW ON. If I’m feeling really peppy, I can muck around with the typography and throw in some spot illustrations…good enough.

    So yeah, massive respect to anyone who can pull off comics. That stuff takes work.

  6. Jesse says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Faith! The “I don’t know where to read next” problem is really pervasive. It’s a bummer when otherwise great comics have awkward or not-nice-looking letters.

    Thoughtful placements are kind of our mission statement at Letter Better (if we have one); we do a lot of close work with writers to walk them through why certain lettering choices may rank over others (even marginally), as subjective as it is.

    Anyway, glad you appreciated it. :)

  7. ana says:

    this must be a small town,because most small towns don’t have good alarm symptoms.

  8. nem0 says:

    Also worth mentioning, if you’re not Japanese, don’t study translated manga, flipped or otherwise, to learn how to place word balloons. They were designed for a language that reads vertically, and while aesthetically the tall balloons work on a portrait-oriented page, it’s terrible for placing words in English or any other writing system that goes horizontally. The rhythm of the page is entirely different, and chopping your dialog into short lines (or worse, hyphen-
    -ating every-
    -other word)
    is annoy-
    ing to the
    reader.

    Pointing this out because I’ve seen a lot of manga-oriented artists aping every part of manga style, even the parts that have no practical use.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      That’s something I’ve never thought of before, but you’re exactly right! I don’t read much fauxmanga (because most of it is baaaad), but yeah, I do see stuff like that up on Deviantart. Urk.

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Friends With Boys, webcomic edition!

Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.


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