A rant on word balloons not being word bubbles

A Video Essay: On Word Balloons


The original script, from which I deviated here and there:

I have a rant in me that needs to come out.

Recently, several otherwise studious-sounding resources have talked about comic book lettering in a way that almost worked, save one mistake that made my teeth grind.

How could they get something so basic so wrong?!?

This is a word balloon.


You know who uses word bubbles?  PEOPLE WHO USE COMICS SANS!

Chewing gum?  You might make a bubble.

Fun in the summer with your four year old daughter?  Blow some bubbles.

Pets.com?  A classic Silicon Valley Dot Com bubble.

Dutch tulips in 1637?  Most definitely a bubble.

Comic books in the early 90s?  Bubble.

Word Bubbles? That’s an iPhone word game.

But if you want to fly through  the sky in wicker basket with some weights and an incredibly high powered fire to lift you into the air?  That’s a balloon.

The opening scene of UP?  Balloons.  LOTS OF THEM.

That round-ish thing that encircles dialogue on a comics page and then points to the speaker’s mouth?  THAT’S A FRIGGIN’ WORD BALLOON!

Word balloon.

Word balloon.

Word balloon.

Word balloon.

Word balloons.

A writer in love with the sound of his own voice.  Using WORD BALLOONS.

So, please, the next time you want to talk about comics, please get it right.  

If you’re not going to, let me give you a tip: Your headline should start with “BAM! POW! BOOM!!”

That’s the universal signifier that the writer has no clue what they’re talking about.

Oh, and Mark Evanier agrees 


Seriously, though, folks, I love “Strip Panel Naked.”  I just had to give him a hard time on this one thing.  Go subscribe.


  • Jim Campbell September 23, 2016 at 9:46 am

    “Speech balloons”, surely? Also, it doesn’t need the quotation marks…

    • Augie September 23, 2016 at 10:44 am

      “Word balloons.”

      The quotations are there to indicate that it’s a title.


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