Tuesday, July 31, 2007


So there I was last week, glued to the Internet looking for news from the San Diego Comic-Con like all of us comic geeks, unfortunate enough to be unable to go. As a big Spidey fan, the one thing I was anticipating the most was the official announcement that Dan Slott (She-Hulk, The Thing) would be one of the four new writers of The Amazing Spider-Man, which will be moving to a three-times-a-month schedule starting with issue #546. (I say "official" because Slott getting the job was probably the worst kept secret in comics.)

So anyway, the announcement gets made online, I'm giggling like a schoolgirl and reading the rest of the article when I come across good news of a different sort -- Bob Gale, another of the announced writers and the man who gave the world Marty McFly, plans on bringing back footnote captions and thought balloons. As he puts it:
"These are tools we have in comics that aren't available in other media, so I want to take advantage of them. Let's celebrate what we can do in comics, and not pretend like we're doing movies on paper."
Amen, Mr. Gale. Amen. I've been hoping for the return of these tools, along with cover dialogue and splash pages (whatever happened to them?) for quite a while now. Sadly, they've been deemed too "hokey" or "outdated" to be used in an art form that has been struggling for legitimacy for nearly its entire existence.

Well, screw that. I want them back, and not just for reasons of nostalgia. Thought balloons let us into a character's head in a more direct way than most movies (voiceover narrations are a very hit-or-miss affair in movies; they can come off as forced and clumsy as bad use of thought balloons). Captions give readers information they may need to follow a story or tell them where to get that information.

In my last article I made a joke about not knowing what S.H.I.E.L.D. stood for anymore. You can bet that wasn't the case when I was a kid and that little box in the corner said, *Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division, and appeared in every third Marvel comic.

I could go on, and probably will in the future, but I think you know where I stand. Used properly, all these things are NOT corny, but are what separates our funnybooks from all the other ways people pass the time. Embrace what comics are capable of, and be proud of it. After all, does it make any sense to be embarrassed by thought balloons while you're reading about flying people in tights who punch things real good?

- Ken Ip



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