Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Alien tongue fonts
benjin at 5:47AM, Nov. 3, 2009
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Hi, here's another weird question I have.
If you make a Science Fiction comic and have some aliens talk in their language, so nobody should understand it. Would you use any existing font like Thai, Korean or Georgian or would you create your own font?

Sone of the existing fonts really looks great. I'm not sure if I can create something like this. I'm not even sure if I can create fonts with my currently used software.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
skoolmunkee at 12:22PM, Nov. 3, 2009
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Personally if I were going to do an alien language, I wouldn't use a computer font. I like to think that an alien communication wouldn't necessarily be anything we'd understand in that way. I know you have to convey a succinct image for a comic, but I think something a little further from the language or text structure we know would be interesting.

I read quite a good short story which described an alien language which was based around complex nonsense pictograms- layered imagery/symbols into a single ‘illustration’ or character which didn't conform to any kind of sentence structure, time/tense, etc. Or the idea that the aliens are built along a different form (vs our bi-face symmetry) and might speak in a way which could take that into account, maybe their speech is built around a circle instead of our linear sentences. Maybe aliens speak in a visual way which is kind of like those word games where the word “eggs” written above “easy” means “eggs over easy”

Or I might use something which is ‘alien’ to the comic, like filling the speech balloon with a (probably nonsense) collage of photo bits, textures, lines, etc. The speech balloon says he is ‘saying’ something, but it's not any kind of format a reader would understand, which would hopefully add to the sense that whatever noise he's making isn't understandable to the universe of the comic either.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:43PM
Aurora Borealis at 6:59PM, Nov. 3, 2009
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skoolmunkee
Or I might use something which is ‘alien’ to the comic, like filling the speech balloon with a (probably nonsense) collage of photo bits, textures, lines, etc. The speech balloon says he is ‘saying’ something, but it's not any kind of format a reader would understand, which would hopefully add to the sense that whatever noise he's making isn't understandable to the universe of the comic either.

This is a pretty cool idea :D Aliens could talk about weather by having rain/clouds in their word balloons :)

Some suggestions:

mathematical symbols, geometric symbols, text written with a mirrored font (if you want someone to be able to read it with some effort of “translating” it with a mirror, but make sure it's not something crucial to understand the story, just a little hidden extra perhaps), various colored dots, barcodes, etc.

But I wouldn't use korean or stuff like that… mostly because it could be misunderstood as you saying “Koreans are aliens” or something like that.

As for languages in general… I plan on using two different fonts in one of my projects myself: one to indicate a rather primitive, simplier language (probably shakier looking hand drawn font, maybe even hand lettered) and one to indicate a higher evolved language (probably more decorative BUT still readable font).
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
skoolmunkee at 9:57PM, Nov. 3, 2009
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Aurora Borealis
This is a pretty cool idea :D Aliens could talk about weather by having rain/clouds in their word balloons :)
I wouldn't even have it be that understandable, it would be more a color/texturse/unidentifiable bits of things sort of collage. :] Unless the non-alien comic character was meant to understand them, then I would put in some hints.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:43PM
BlkKnight at 3:28PM, Nov. 4, 2009
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Aurora Borealis
But I wouldn't use korean or stuff like that… mostly because it could be misunderstood as you saying “Koreans are aliens” or something like that.

As for languages in general… I plan on using two different fonts in one of my projects myself: one to indicate a rather primitive, simplier language (probably shakier looking hand drawn font, maybe even hand lettered) and one to indicate a higher evolved language (probably more decorative BUT still readable font).


Definitely have to agree with not using another language. It reminds me of my undergrad days where my roomate and I were watching some anime commercial and I asked something along the line of “Why is there Hebrew?” My roomate said it was supposed to be an alien language and didn't even pick up on the Hebrew part until I pointed it out.

I do use the random symbols/lines for an alien language in my comic. It doesn't show up often, but is my way of saying “This isn't Earth, and they're not speaking English.” One such example is shown here where the visual and text give you a general idea of what the book says. But something that does denote another language while looking original is a better idea than a simple font change.
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
benjin at 1:39AM, Nov. 5, 2009
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Aurora Borealis
But I wouldn't use korean or stuff like that… mostly because it could be misunderstood as you saying “Koreans are aliens” or something like that.
Well, as I understood the word, koreans ARE aliens to europeans or US-americans, because they are foreign people, visibly different from us.
But of course, you are right. For those capable of reading the language I use to substitude ‘not understandable foreign language’ any existing language would be irritating.

Looks like I have to create some fantasy TT-Fonts.

I don't see collages working for my purpose. Collages are made out of images. So you might see something in it. You might think that you understand parts of it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
mattchee at 8:16AM, Nov. 5, 2009
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I've only ever had the opportunity to do it once on this page, despite my comic being about aliens. I just wrote it out by hand. If you have to do it a lot, then, yeah, creating a font would be a good idea.

Just don't have it correlate to English words. DC has created this “Kryptonian language” font, but its so blatantly obvious that the kryptonian letters are just stand ins for roman letters in ENGLISH sentences. Then they go through the trouble of putting subtitles below in the panel (in case you want to match them up). Why they can't just use the typical translations, is beyond me, but it kinda ruins the whole comic reading experience for me because instead of enjoying the story I'm thinking, “Why are they doing this?”

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
ThePriestess at 11:21PM, Nov. 5, 2009
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I have to second(or third) the idea of not using any earth-language to substitute for an alien one. Matters of political correctness aside; it's likely to make a good number of people ask “Why the @#$%^ are the aliens speaking Thai?”
If the words aren't supposed to be something that your audience is supposed to be able to read or understand it can be just about anything. One of my favorites is from Vonegut's Timequake, in which the Alien's language is read not left to right, but by looking at it all at once. It's a cool idea, I think, and it gets accross the point that they're extra terrestrial much more than Korian or any other earthling language will.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:25PM
Aurora Borealis at 5:08AM, Nov. 6, 2009
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Another suggestion, Blambot has a bunch of “symbol” fonts over here http://www.blambot.com/fonts_symbol.shtml

They're more fantasy oriented (dark arts, wizard speak), but the “roswell wreckage” font is clearly alien font :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
benjin at 5:08AM, Nov. 17, 2009
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Aurora Borealis
Another suggestion, Blambot has a bunch of “symbol” fonts over here http://www.blambot.com/fonts_symbol.shtml

They're more fantasy oriented (dark arts, wizard speak), but the “roswell wreckage” font is clearly alien font :D

Thanks for the link. interesting fonts there :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM

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