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Different Fonts for Different Characters?

Another thread I'm cutting up and hoping to restart: what do you think about using different fonts throughout a comic - I recall of the top that Howard Tayler did this with Schlock Mercenary. It obviously can be used to help define different characters (In the case of Schlock it distinguishes the many types of aliens littered throughout the story) but it could also be used to capture emotional or other differences in the state of a single character.

Or maybe it's all too distracting?

Different Fonts for Different Characters?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Another thread I'm cutting up and hoping to restart: what do you think about using different fonts throughout a comic - I recall of the top that Howard Tayler did this with Schlock Mercenary. It obviously can be used to help define different characters (In the case of Schlock it distinguishes the many types of aliens littered throughout the story) but it could also be used to capture emotional or other differences in the state of a single character.

Or maybe it's all too distracting?

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

LGraf's picture

With Twilight Agency, I use two different fonts for two of the main characters. One is to denote that Zee is speaking in a different language than her partners. The other is to indicate Morphy was an AI but I changed his font when he revealed what he truly was.

I like the idea of using different fonts to denote when someone is speaking in a language which isn't English. I first saw that in the printed comic "Planetary", when Elijah Snow spoke Chinese. I've always disliked is the < >'s around dialog to denote a different language and there's the footnote below of "translated from Chinese, Hindu, etc". It just seems less cumbersome to me to have the different font and a char responding accordingly.

*tosses in her two cents*

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

LGraf's picture

[quote:00f3d45fac="Fabricari"]I'm not really big on changing up the font, I think it hurt's overall readability. But I've been using a couple different conventions for the bubbles. Analogue voices get the traditional bubbles, and digital voices get overlapping squares that are rounded off.

I dunno...here's what I've seen...

When I changed the font on Morphy in "Twilight Falls", readers caught on immediately something new had been added, that the char had changed. I kept the new font throughout the story and there didn't seem to be any problems, at least no one complained. When Zee changed from speaking English, as she did in two previous stories, to Feyside Trade in another story, again, no complaints and the readers caught on. I changed out Feyside Trade for English again in "Twilight Falls", again the readers caught on.

Based on my experience, I'd have to say that it can work and not hurt overall readability. But on the other hand, I don't change out fonts/language that much which is probably why it works for what I do. I can see it being a problem if there's constant font changing which can lead up to reader confusion and the unreadability you mention.

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

I use the same font (8pt Digital Strip) for most of my dialogue and captions, but I've made a note to use a different font and colour scheme for each character's narrative captions to give clear separation. Some people might frown upon this idea, but I think it does help clear up some situations, and I think even the font you choose can say something about the character.

Katie Sekelsky's picture

It's possible for it to work. For example, when Greg Dean would do his sentient computer storylines, the computer's had different fonts for their dialogue. This really worked, because it was a whole different "lifeform" doing the talking; it would sound dramatically different were it audible, so why not make look different as well.

However, when multiple fonts are used which are really similar, it annoys me. Part of this may just be having been through several graphic design courses, all of which had a standard rule of never using more than 3 fonts on a project, and making them different styles. If someone is going to use different fonts, it makes sense to have them different enough that readers notice it right away (while still being able to read it, of course).

I've also seen different colors used for different characters' dialogue (though I can't remember at the moment where that was), this I also see as okay, as long as the colors balance out and flow with the art. a bunch of, say, flourescent type (or outlines of the speech bubbles even) would be quite distracting in almost any context.

Aleph's picture

I think I would only switch fonts for a significantly different accent or a significantly altered way of speaking, but even then I use them with trepidation.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Kwerki and Jihad Jesus are the only characters in my strip to have their own fonts. It's really not so much they have their own fonts per say. Kwerki's diologue is all typed in lowercase to illustrate the soft, emotionless monotone she speaks in and Jihad Jesus speaks in a random mix of upper and lowercase to illustrate how bat-shit-insane the guy is.

As each person speaks with a different voice in real life i started thinkin about this. Ya know as a way to actually show that point. But as said above it can be annoying or just simply over done or done badly. Then i stared thinking along the lines of same font different colors.

Which i jsut found utterly annoying. In the end i think the best way to get the point across is with different ballons. Either with a different styled outline or color. And then only for the 2-3 main characters.

spargs's picture

I'm quite a fan of this when it's not overdone. I recall the Asterix books from my childhood being quite good at this, having Egyptians speaking in hieroglyphics and so on. They also did great things like having tone of false sincerity shown by a speech bubble adorned with flowers and singing birds (similar to Paul Taylor mentioned before), barely repressed anger with small, stressed fonts and so on.

I think it's best when you limit an entirely different character font to only one character, preferably one that doesn't speak very often, and wears a cloak.

[url=http://www.digi-comic.com][img]http://www.digi-comic.com/images/dcLilLink.gif[/img][/url]

Fabricari's picture

I'm not really big on changing up the font, I think it hurt's overall readability. But I've been using a couple different conventions for the bubbles. Analogue voices get the traditional bubbles, and digital voices get overlapping squares that are rounded off.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

While I'm not in favor of switching fonts for characters (just a preference, I've seen it pulled off well - I'm just saying I couldn't pull it off), I'd like to elaborate that I think changing the font is more suited to changing a character's tone. Anyone who's read Cerebus knows what I'm talking about. A character may have a wispy voice, and the lettering would litterally look like it's floating. Or the sound of growling through clenched teeth conveyed by drawing several strike-thru lines over the works. Also, Paul Taylor (Wapsi Square) will draw flowers in the bubbles if the girls are talking with their cute voice. It's a convention I'm fond of.

I believe this was the origin of the vox bubble, as the bubble was supposed to represent the puff of air coming out of someone's mouth.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

[quote:0dedbc275e="spargs"]...preferably one that... wears a cloak.

Ah, the Dark Cloak Corollary. You're right. Can't believe I forgot about that.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Re: Different Fonts for Different Characters?

Halley's picture

Depends on the type of comic I think... I really like it when they do it with Ian's "real friends" in Machall... it would have to be a super art intensive comic though... a regular looking comic set up with that font thing would just make you feel that there was something REALLY important about their voices that you just weren't getting... but if everything else visually hardcore as well... i think it would look really cool... it would also have to be a rather abtract-type comic as well... "alternative type" and... I'm no THAT big a fan of "alternative comics" but if one is actully good I won't hate it JUST because it's alternative... but the thing with most alternative comics is that they do what they do JUST to be differnt and not because it's the best way to get the concept across...
So with the font thing I feel it's the same... if you really want your readers to understand their differnt tones or whatnot... then yes... but if you have to figure out a charaters font... then you're working too hard on something like that... then your audience will have to work too hard as well... and working to read a comic is no fun... in my opinion

_________________

Halley'c Comic

I've done this a lot... most of the people speak in the 'normal' font, except for computers, which speak in the 'monospace' font. I also use other fonts as well, depending on how 'weird' the text is... for example, in one point I made several jokes about bad anime dubs, and how they replaced all the voices with dumb voices, so you see that whenever the characters talk it's in a really off font different from everything else... including black bubbles.

... yeah ... if you want, you can check out the comics on the site.