Hello Fellow Duckers. Today I want to talk to you about a sensitive topic, but one that many of us enjoy, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed. We’re all friends here after all. I’m talking of course, about SFX.
My entry to the mysteries of SFX came with my first exposure to a genuine comic script. Sandwiched between the panel descriptions, captions and dialogue were those three magic letters. They heralded Klangs, Kabooms, Sighs and Clicks enough to turn any young man’s head. Previously I’d thought these were made up by the artist or the letterer, but here was evidence of writers burning the midnight oil to satisfy their onomatopoeic cravings. I had to know more.
I spent my nights with an endless selection of well thumbed publications, gleaning what I could. American cartoonist Roy Crane (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Crane) was the first to SFX up our comics. Others soon followed suit. SFX Splonked and Thwaarked their way into the popular consciousness. In the golden age, SFX became as recognisable a feature of comics as the characters they fought for panel space. They were soon parodied, never better than in this example (http://jeffoverturf.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/sound-effects-wally-wood-mad-mondays.html), by the great Wally Wood.
In the silver age, jack Kirby gave them centre stage, often filling whole panels with wild SFX. They fought for screen time with Adam West and Burt Ward in the iconic 1960s Batman TV series and even made their way into art galleries, courtesy of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. They became the most recognisable feature of the comics vocabulary. Even today, classic SFX have their fans and custodians. Try clicking a few at the Comic Book Sound Effect Database (http://www.comicbookfx.com/fxlist.php). There was bound to be a backlash.
In the nineties, writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore pioneered a grittier approach and looked for a new language of comics to satisfy their needs. Thought balloons went out of the window, to be replaced by angst ridden captions. SFX were under threat. Moore excluded them from the action in his genre defining Watchmen, creating a very different, unsettling effect. Some thought it was time to put SFX firmly in the closet. Today, you’ll still be hard pressed to find a thought balloon. SFX on the other hand, have survived, prospered, branched out into a thousand new forms. Let’s face it, SFX sells!
So how do you like yours? Do you display them proudly for all to admire? Do you tweak them for hours, or bash them out and forget about them? Perhaps you like them transparent, or in outline form, so we can see what’s going on underneath? Some prefer the human touch, while others employ every technological advance at their disposal. Some find their vision is best served by complete abstinence for all forms of SFX.
Whatever your stance, comic SFX are unique. While most writing is confined to balloons and captions, SFX leap clear of the text to join in with the action, throwing a few punches of their own along the way. In our sequential world they bridge the gap between words and pictures, giving us a soundtrack into the bargain. How loud is that explosion? How do you know a picture has been taken without that telltale click? Who’s that lurking in the shadows? It’s Wolverine of course - we can tell by his Snikt! SFX offer endless scope for originality and expression, even morphing into backgrounds and props if need be. Lose your inhibitions: SFX are fun!
Thanks for reading and until next time consider this: what sound does a freckle make, when it pops out to play on a balmy summer’s day?
This cheeky and very SFXy newspost was bought to us by our very own Ironscarf! http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Ironscarf/
You should know dear scarfy from his excellent comic Awfully Decent Fellows! http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Awfully_Decent_Fellows/
Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, July 15, 2016
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