Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Non-English Dialog
kyupol at 5:38PM, Nov. 8, 2007
posts: 3,718
joined: 1-12-2006
If your comic has dialog that is not in English, what method is better?

a) >

b) Kung di sya nagsasalita ng Ingles, kung pwede ang salita niya sa komiks ay ibang wika… pero lalagyan ng pagsalin sa Ingles pagkatapos niya magsalita.
(If they dont speak English, if you could put dialog in another language… but you put a translation in English after they talk)

c) A combination of both methods depending on the situation?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
usedbooks at 6:57PM, Nov. 8, 2007
posts: 2,799
joined: 2-24-2007
I would say the first one unless it is important for the story to show the non-English language. Less is almost always better. Avoid tiny text and cluttered pages.

Another alternative is if you are showing it from the viewpoint of a character that doesn't know the language is have the non-English in one panel (from the non-speaker's POV) and then a panel of the characters that are talking, close-up using the translation with >
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:37PM
kyupol at 7:10PM, Nov. 8, 2007
posts: 3,718
joined: 1-12-2006
I would say the first one unless it is important for the story to show the non-English language.

Its stuff about pronunciation and references to Filipino songs…

Pare… haha… PARI Wala dito ang Diyos!
(Dude… haha… I mean ‘priest’, God is not here!)

PARE = buddy/pal/dude ; PARI = Priest

Ang tipo kong lalake medyo bastos. Maginoo pero medyo bastos. Magaling ba ako kumanta?
(My type of guy is one who is a little badass. A Gentleman but a little rude. Am I a good singer?)

This is in reference to a Filipino pop song that translates lame in English.

Thanks for the advice though. Much appreciated.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
mlai at 7:13PM, Nov. 8, 2007
posts: 3,035
joined: 12-28-2006
Yes it depends on the level of authenticity your story requires. If it's just an offhand thing that the characters aren't speaking English, it's prolly better to just do the >. If it's plot relevant that they speak something your common reader should not understand, then do your foreign language (provide you know it well enough not to guck it up). Animes are so embarassing when they speak Engrish or German.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
kyupol at 5:57AM, Nov. 9, 2007
posts: 3,718
joined: 1-12-2006
If it's plot relevant that they speak something your common reader should not understand, then do your foreign language (provide you know it well enough not to guck it up). Animes are so embarassing when they speak Engrish or German.

So far, Tagalog is the language in question. Its my first language… yes in a perfect world drunkduck would understand Tagalog. :) Then my comics would be Tagalog to get rid of that “lame dialog” thingy I still feel at the back of my head (even though some people think my English dialog is at a satisfactory level).

Plot relevance?

Its kinda like the devil speaking to a Filipino priest. Why Filipino priest? Because in North America, Catholic priests are an endangered species. Ask any 18 year old who wants to be a catholic priest (No way!!! They all wanna get laid!!! Virginity sux ass!!!). :) While in the Philippines since its a Catholic nation, there are more instances where young males think of becoming priests. (yea that is aside from a national pride factor as an artist… lol)

When I go to church, the priest is either an old Caucasian (at least 60 years old) or of European (mostly Spanish or Italian), Asian (mostly Filipino or S. Korean) or African origin. 20 years from now… with the growth of the Catholic population yet shortage of priests… the churches will keep importing them at a higher rate.

Though for other stuff like Russian or the other Filipino languages (Bisaya, Ilokano, Bikolano, Waray, etc…) , I would rather use the > because of language unfamiliarity.

Tnx for advice though. That was very helpful.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
Dirk Zephyrs at 8:35AM, Nov. 9, 2007
posts: 921
joined: 11-9-2007
I vote write it normally in English, run some bits through babelfish, and use resulting Engrish. Don't overdue the Engrish or it makes peoples' eyes bleed, but do it enough to get the point across. I'm doing a story where they (for the most part) speak a Russian language, most people have gotten it since I use a ‘to be ______ing’ style of verb use.

“I am finding it hard to believe that you are wanting this to be done,” *action tag*

“Perhaps I am not being clear on the matter that is at hand,” *action tag.* . “All this for you to be taking the girl. Only one condition is to stand; you are not to be killing her under any circumstances.”

It's obvious they aren't speaking English, or at least, if they are, they're foreigners.
Pink Floyd
Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don't be afraid to care.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:11PM
Bimbo_Zombie at 8:45PM, Nov. 10, 2007
posts: 62
joined: 12-15-2006
I also have a problem in that area. My comic has many laguages.
Firstly: there is english, which the comic is entirely done in.
Then there is the ‘common toungue’ spoken by every creature that crawls, swims and flys. It is on another frequency that humans can't hear. Also, there are common tounge ‘dialects’, for example cats speak the common language as well as their own language we hear as ‘meow’. There is also a dialect spoken by another creature that is actually a version of the human language Maori (it will be written as English as my Maori skillz are crap :P)
And also, foul languages spoken by creatures created by another being.
Thirdly: An angel and a demon language and even a ‘death’ language spoken by the ‘reapers’. Spoken on other frequencies that take a lot of training for even animals to hear.
Then there is a kind of ‘telepathic’ speach people hear in their minds.

Damn, I'm going to need a lot of symbols to repesent all these…
I already have text in different colours/fonts to represent each person.
And I will also have to develop the storyline for you all to understand what I'm doing…lol.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:22AM
BlkKnight at 10:44PM, Nov. 10, 2007
posts: 1,101
joined: 5-28-2007
I have the base language spoken in my comic in regular English, any other language between angle brackets, and music notes for anything that comes from the music note-shaped creature in my user icon (Reader has to guess what they're saying though it's usually easy enough to have a rough idea).
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
kytri at 4:44PM, Nov. 11, 2007
posts: 62
joined: 1-8-2006
All the languages in my comic are fantasy languages. The main one is, of course, written as english, and I vary the other ones based on how much the characters and/or readers are supposed to understand it.

So far I've used the type brackets for a language that about half the main characters speak, and a kind of gibberish text for a language that none of the main characters speak. In the future I'm planning on using German to represent another language, and possibly putting it as english in type brackets when it's really important that the reader can understand what's being said.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:24PM
JustNoPoint at 5:41PM, Nov. 11, 2007
posts: 1,375
joined: 3-16-2007
Despite the positives of having other languages I finally decided everyone will speak english.

I have no idea why, but even aliens that come to earth later speak it =P
I didn't want to have to think of ways for people to communicate with each new type of being I bring in to the comic =P
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
JillyFoo at 11:15PM, Nov. 11, 2007
posts: 627
joined: 1-2-2006
So far I have the demons in my comic speak with a black dialog bubble to show they are speaking a different language.

When I get to the parts with people speaking… I love to do it with people speaking and the main character not understanding it. Even if it's English.

“Meebeeeijustaatachalltheleers” to show someone specking and the main character doesn't understand. I'm still not sure yet what to do for different languages as well. Perhaps get a person that knows the language to help me.

And if the language is written in a non-Romanized alphabet(Chinese, Arabic, etc) do you write the Roman Alphabet sounds or try to get the other language fonts?)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:08PM
RentAThug at 12:57PM, Nov. 18, 2007
posts: 226
joined: 12-11-2006
I've found that my favourite way of handling different languages in comics (from the perspective of both reading and writing them) is to use . The first time it's used, put an asterisk (*) on the outside of the closing bracket with a note at the bottom of the panel (or page, or wherever it fits appropriately in your layout) that says “Translated from original (language)”. Sometimes characters will use occassionally use words from one language but speak predominantly in another. In this case I usually just write what they would be saying out loud and let the reader figure it out via context, as it's usually not overly important what the word means specifically. For example, a Russian guy might say “Da, it is done. When do I get paid?” The reader will either figure out that “Da” means “yes” because of context or just ignore it because the rest of the sentence is what's actually important. Hope that was helpful for you.

Crime Pays, updating Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:05PM
spacehamster at 7:05AM, Nov. 25, 2007
posts: 504
joined: 8-3-2007
Use other languages only only ONLY ONLY if you speak them properly. As a native German speaker, nothing irritates me more than poorly cobbled together faux-German in comics. It immediately throws me out of the story. “Mach shnell, Amerikaner shvienhund!” - “Ach, mien fraulein, donner und blitzen!”

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:50PM
marine at 9:40AM, Nov. 25, 2007
posts: 2,425
joined: 1-6-2006
Do it like this:

Word balloon contains

Bottom of the page in a box it says *

So if it was klingon from star trek, you would have it be like this:

“Well I'm from Star Wars, we all speak the same language magically.”

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:53PM
SwinS at 2:46PM, Nov. 29, 2007
posts: 83
joined: 11-19-2007
I had a comic once that had dialogue in two different languages at different times. I had a font for English and another font that I consistently used for the second language. It was something that was better for a drawn-out book more than a single instance, though, so I don't know if that'd help considering I don't know how often you plan on incorporating foreign pop songs. ; P
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:05PM

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