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Swearing in Comics

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 22, 2016

art by Hergé, of course

Hello, hello!
Before I begin my ramblings, may I remind you that the DD Awards are currently being served?

What's that you say? I just did?


F*cking awesome!

How did my “awesome!” change for you with the swear word, if at all? Did my voice in your head change its tone, and if so, to what? Annoyed? Ironic? Super excited, compared to the first ‘awesome’ I said?

There is a general consensus that swear words carry an emotional charge, big or small depending on the swear word itself and of course the context in which it is used. Therefore swearing in dialogue can and is being used in several different ways to evoke different reactions from the audience.

The three broad manners of use are:

To underline a scene’s gravity or how emotionally charged a character is feeling:
The more serious the message a character is conveying in terms of urgency, grimness, terror, etc, the more likely the dialogue to employ some swear words, especially for emphasis.

To demonstrate an escalation of the emotions in a scene:
The more ALL the characters in a scene begin to use swear words in their dialogue, the more an escalation (or unravelling) of a situation is communicated to the audience, creating a constant upping of the ante in the scene until climax.

To show the power pyramid within a constellation of characters in a scene, or a power struggle:
A character that will consistently use swear words to others while not having others swear back to him/her, is a character possessing more power over the others than vice versa. The more the rudeness that goes unchallenged, the more that character’s rank augments, without us having to show or tell anything further. The interaction says it all.

There is also an element of using swear words for comedy, but I really am not at all good at comedy on demand so I’ll leave that to someone better qualified than me :)

So what do you think?
Do you use swear words in your characters’ dialogue? Have you ever had swear words escalate (i.e. go from friggin’ to f*cking, etc)?
Do you use swearing in your comics for any other purposes?
And if you don't use swearing, how do you approach that element of human interaction?

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EssayBee at 10:52AM, Oct. 24, 2016

How about swearing to power a superhero? ( )

bravo1102 at 10:17PM, Oct. 23, 2016

Gallows humor. That laconic "we're f--ked" just before it all goes into the toilet. Exasperation. One asks a simple question and the other explodes in a mass of expletives. Watch Goodfellas. That movie is a primer on expletives.

Udyr at 9:57PM, Oct. 23, 2016

Cursing makes it more hardcore in realism (BUT depends on the sort of comic you're doing). Sadly, I curse alot in real life and my friends do too so therefore usually my dialogue reflects that whenever i am creating real life situations or people into fiction. But its not like that with all characters, which might be what makes them unique in some sort of way by acting like civil humanbeings rather than the other way around haha

KimLuster at 9:01PM, Oct. 23, 2016

Great subject! It also depends on the tone of the story! For a 'serious drama', it sometimes starts to feel sort of contrived to purposefuly avoid swearing during 'appropriate' moments, although a very skilled writer can pull it off. I gave up trying when I changed my comic to mature, but I still try to keep it from being gratuitous!! The other extreme can be just as 'unrealistic'!

Banes at 6:20PM, Oct. 23, 2016

The two comedy applications that come to my mind are I guess 1. Swearing in an inappropriate context, or from an unexpected character, or TO the wrong person, or 2. Censoring. When I loved the old Daily Show, the bleeped swearing was often funny. The bleep was the joke, I guess. Hearing unbleeped swears on similar shows has no comedic value in my opinion. Cool article!

Banes at 6:20PM, Oct. 23, 2016

Another interesting one! Not sure what to add...I don't swear a whole lot in real life, and there's almost no cursing in my comic.

Banes at 6:16PM, Oct. 23, 2016

what the f*ck?!?

Genejoke at 1:31PM, Oct. 22, 2016

I use it how the characters would use it in the given situations. Of course all the things you mentioned come into play as well. I found not using swearing hard with Lore, I guess I'm used to using expletives.

usedbooks at 5:50AM, Oct. 22, 2016

I told a friend once that the level of the swear word (and possibly the adult rating of it) can be categorized by falling under or between the categories of "the 'A' word," "the 'B' word," and "the 'C' word." I typically keep my written swears at B or lower. Some characters swear often as part of who they are and how they talk. It's not necessarily charged or even upset. In other cases, I use it to show someone slipping up, losing his cool, sliding from thinking to emoting. (I tend to have recurring themes on the duality of characters. So rough lamguage could be part of a facade or it could be a symptom of a facade breaking.)

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