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Sarcasm

Banes at 12:00AM, March 18, 2021
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When writing and drawing comics, facial expression and body language can sell and reinforce character, tone and story.

A smiling face can say as much as their words about what's going on in the moment, and in the character's emotions.

But what about a sarcastic smile? Or sarcastic expressions of anger, or tears, or fear? In a comic, where the character's words are seen as text, and not being delivered by an actor, how do we sell sarcasm?

It can come from context, and knowing a character to be sarcastic. The overall tone of a series can have readers prepared to understand sarcasm.

A cocked eyebrow with the smile, or half-lidded eyes are two favorites of mine. The reactions of the other characters in the scene can reveal sarcasm as well.

How do you portray sarcasm when you write and draw it? What are some effective…or not effective…ways to do it?


Great. Yeah. Have a GOOD one,

Banes

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anonymous?

Banes at 8:04AM, March 21, 2021

@bravo - agreed; so much of it is around the eyes and brows!

bravo1102 at 12:55AM, March 19, 2021

It's all in the eyes and eyebrows. Up, down, narrowed, open. Faces tell it all. There's also body language. Anime and Manga often exaggerate it to make it obvious even reverting to chibi. And there's more to deadpan than the blank expression. Study faces and body language. The tilt of the head can say volumes.

Banes at 3:04PM, March 18, 2021

TheRedDeath - makes sense, yeah! And for not-established characters, or those who are just being sarcastic in a particular moment, other techniques would have to come into play!

Banes at 3:02PM, March 18, 2021

@usedbooks - yes, same here. I do like thinking about simple lines, simply drawn, that can create these kinds of effects!

Banes at 3:01PM, March 18, 2021

@marcorossi - ah, yeah, I’ve heard of that trope in manga as well. Cool!

Banes at 3:00PM, March 18, 2021

@ozoneocean - good point! The expression not matching the words, yes! I had a couple of exes who it turned out were only in relationships with me sarcastically. Ouch! Cold!

theRedDeath at 10:45AM, March 18, 2021

I'd say the best advice is to clearly establish the kind of character first, so the audience knows who the character is and what they're about and understand not only that this is the kind of character that WOULD say something sarcastic, but also know the character well enough to get why they would be sarcastic in that instance.

usedbooks at 10:23AM, March 18, 2021

I think I use the phrasing/context to denote intention. Expression helps, but I don't trust my art to carry my comic because I'm not great at it.

marcorossi at 3:18AM, March 18, 2021

I don't know if this is really an answer but often a character's purpose is that of giving sarcastic answers to someone else in order to highlight the excessiveness of that other carachter. In manga this role is called "tsukkomi" that I think is the equivalent of the english "straight man" (vs funny man). In manga this is often done with exaggerated reactions.

Ozoneocean at 1:02AM, March 18, 2021

I would say that the best way to do sarcasm is with an expression that doesn't match the tone of the words (Daria from Daria was perfect at this). I've had exes that were shit at sarcasm because their expression matched the tone of the speech and the vocal tone too- the ONLY thing that made it sarcastic was the meaning vs the context, and that is no where near enough of a clue for something as crude as sarcasm.


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