The Last Temptation: A consideration of the role of sound in comic books

Peter Hodges

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Comic books are inherently silent...until you open them. From early explorations comic books have experimented in communicating the voice of characters leading to a wide range of visual representations that express a variety of vocal emphasizes. Through the use of onomatopoeia, sounds and sound effects were introduced to, and expanded this sonic vocabulary through graphically illustrated Bam's, Crashes, and Zap's. All these instances of 'sound' emit from the diegesis of the composition and action and are sounds that the characters can hear and respond to.
    When present, music is traditionally represented through musical notation displayed in a sympathetically illustrative manner rather in preference to technical authenticity, while characters are depicted reacting and interacting to these "heard" sounds. As such, is there a role for the more common use of music in films, non-diegetic or background music? This music that cannot be heard by the characters and does not 'exist' in the story world, yet provides an important suggestion of the character's psychological state, or an emotional guide for the audience. How can such an influential aspect of a Film, Computer Game, or Theatrical performance provide aural support to such a mute medium as the comic book? And where in the non-diegetic does it exist?
    This paper discusses the embedded application of sound in words and illustrations, along with the alignment of comic narratives with audio materials, and suggests areas of consideration to augment the sonic experience in comic books.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
    EventUSW Creating Comics, Creative Comics syposium 2018 - ATRiuM, Cardiff
    Duration: 31 May 20182 Jun 2018


    ConferenceUSW Creating Comics, Creative Comics syposium 2018


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