Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Onomatopoeias Click
Janen at 6:14PM, April 8, 2007
posts: 88
joined: 2-25-2007
I don't know about you but one my biggest problems is coming up with onomatopoeias. They are as vital as the characters expressions, but how can one assign letters to a random sound? How do you guys go about coming up with an onomatopoeia that makes sense? Maybe its just difficult for me because I have to go back and forth between pronunciations in Spanish and English.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:07PM
ozoneocean at 6:31PM, April 8, 2007
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
Commonly these are known as sound effects :)

It's one of the greatest jokes of language that onomatopoeia is such an obscurely sounding word that you'd never connect with its meaning. lol!

As for made up words that are meant to evoke a particular sound, I foresee some hassles for you… Like the pronunciation of “ss/c/th” or “y/h/j”?

Hmm, lots of effects have short vowels and hard consonants. The consonants are probably more important… Why not try and vocalise your intended sound effect and then come up with letters that approximate it? Whether it's in English or Spanish you can probably think up words that have parts of those sounds, so you can use them as guides for pronunciation.

A sound effect doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be pronounced in such a way so as to roughly indicate the sound it imitates.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
Amelius at 12:06AM, April 9, 2007
posts: 246
joined: 1-15-2006
I've had trouble with this before too! I can think of the sound in my mind but I can't find the best way to convey it through text Sometimes it's impossible like those tongue-clicky noises people make to express disapproval/exasperation, which is generally represented with “tsk tsk”, but I always read that as “tisk” instead of the actual sound. I hate that! I have the problem mostly with roaring and growling, because it feels lame using a bunch of r's and A's for it.
I've seen some humorous ways to play with the problem however, in Scud: the Disposable Assassin, there's a very funny sound effect for Scud landing on his rear-end (give ya a hint, I wrote it twice in the word “assassin”…) and the sound effect for something roaring simply had a little picture of the T-rex from Jurassic park. Clever, that.
But if you're doing a serious comic I can see how that wouldn't be the way to go!
I just try vocalizing it to myself and thinking of alternate ways the sound can be produced. Like ozoneocean says, no need to worry about the language it's in,as long as it's readable as the noise it should sound like. I've even read a comic with sound effects in Swedish that made better sense to me than its English counterparts.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:52AM
gigatwo at 12:38PM, April 9, 2007
posts: 308
joined: 1-6-2006
When it doubt, don't imitate the sound, just let the readers visualize it.

*engine starting*

This isn't necessarily the best method, but it works in some situations.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:35PM
Darth Mongoose at 1:57AM, April 10, 2007
posts: 488
joined: 1-7-2006
Friends sometimes joke about the ridiculous sound effects I use in my comic, but I guess I just write whatever it sounds vaguely like when I try to imitate the sound something makes using my voice. Hence swords hitting together go ‘tsang!’ and somebody's foot sliding in mud goes ‘suuuu!’ I think that it's not nessesarily the accuracy of the sound that matters, but the fact that they're there. I like the reader to enjoy reading the sound words aloud in their head and enjoying the sound of them along with the dialogue. Something I've found from reading manga is that even though now I can read katakana letters nearly as fast as I read English, I rarely read the sound effects, I just take that them being there indicates a sound, and what the sound is is generally made clear by the context. I figure it's like this with my comic, not that many people pay attention to what the sounds ARE, but the page would look wrong without them because there needs to be some indication of sound.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
junoblairb at 7:57PM, April 11, 2007
posts: 350
joined: 10-19-2006
I did work for AP a while back and yeah, these can be a pain coming up with on your own. If anyone has a difficult one I might be able to help.

Engine starting: BrMBB
Footsteps: ktat
Blood: SppLTCH (always a fav)

That sort of thing. ;) I'm bored y'all and I like to help. Seriously. :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:11PM

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