Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why Sound Effects?

Your average human being has five basic senses – Hearing, Sight, Smell, Taste, and Touch. Comics, being a very visual medium, are usually limited to just Sight. You’ve got your words and you’ve got your pictures, which each come out to about another thousand words apiece.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course – you can tell a perfectly good story using just sight. Or even with just sound. But there’s something more immersive and enjoyable about a story when you find a way to combine the two. And for comics, that’s where sound effects come in. Those words – be they big or little, inconspicuous or a major part of the page – that can be largely meaningless on their own but add so much to a scene.

Given their history, it sometimes becomes hard to imagine comics without them, especially as some sound effects have managed to become iconic in their own right. After all, where would Spider-Man be without his ‘thwip!’? Or Wolverine without his ‘snikt!’? Or can you possibly try to imagine the classic Adam West Batman without the cheesy yet beloved ‘Bam!’, ‘Pow!’, and ‘Biff!’s?

So here’s to the little words that are so much more that the ink they’re printed with and the pages they’re printed on.

And as always, if you’d like to try your own hand at having fun with Sound Effects this week, feel free to ‘POP!’ out your own one-page script and ‘SMACK!’ it into the comments section below.


  1. I hate writing SFX so this was a nice challenge -



    Derek Adnams

    Page 1 – (5 Panels)

    1.1: Exterior, night, a battered wing-tip shoe stepping on a crack vile on a grimy street. The vile still has some white powder in it and the cylinder is shaped like the SFX, the word taking the form of the image. There is a single drop of blood on the shoe crushing the vile.


    1.2: The man from Panel 1.1 attempting to light a cigarette with an almost spent lighter. He is wearing a wrinkled and torn trench coat and is standing in front of a dark doorway. The sparks from the wheel of the lighter form the first “click” SFX. In the bottom right of the panel the siren SFX is beginning to flow into the panel, like the police car or ambulance that is causing the noise is approaching, setting up the slight reveal in Panel 1.3.


    SFX (siren): nee-ue nee-ue

    1.3: The man lighting his cigarette while, standing behind him in the doorway now fully lit by the passing siren and flashing light, stands a hit-man drawing a revolver from a shoulder holster. The light from the siren is forming a wave of red light across the panel and containing the SFX.

    SFX: nee-uE NEE-UE NEE-UE Nee-ue

    1.4: The hit-man holding the revolver to the back of the smoking man’s skull. The hammer is falling but no shot is being fired. The SFX are small and around the pistols hammer.

    SFX: click click

    1.5: The hit-man hitting the smoking man in the head with the butt of the revolver, rendering him unconscious. The SFX are going across the back of the smoking man’s head, a combination of hair and blood.


  2. I really like way you attempt to integrate the sfx with the images on the page - I can imagine it adding an extra level of interest / immersion in the reader and generally making the page look pretty cool.

    And while the reasons for what's happening on the page aren't entirely clear, that doesn't really matter, as the slow build makes for an intriguing read - I think the decision to go without dialogue makes the page stronger, so good call there.

    My one nitpick would be that fourth panel. I'm not sure how easy it would be to demonstrate the hammer clicking in multiple times for dud shots (and the fact that the sfx isn't as integrated as in the other panels does stand out a bit). I'd almost suggest switching it slightly so that, for whatever reason, he decides to crack the guy's head with the butt without exploring the possibility of shooting him (either for reasons of sound or the dude discovering he's there or something of that nature).

    That said, it's a very moody and atmospheric page and I quite enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks Grant, and I agree that the 4th panel's weak. I was going for symmetry with the SFX but I think my attempt at "style" robbed some of the substance.


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