Panel 2: For some reason, I have immense difficulty with drawing Emp lying on her side, as the orientation of her hips in that pose usually defeats my meager figure-drawing skills. However, in an odd change of pace, her hips worked out fine in this shot; here, the problems lie—pun unintended!—with her upper body, which strikes me as overly “compressed” and flattened in the drawing. Oh, well.
Panel 4: The technical term I use for those symbols on either side of the word “MMMWHUH” is “burst marks,” but this terminology is one I happened to pick up from Studio Proteus years ’n’ years ago. Interestingly, this particular element of the comics idiom seems to go by many different names. In an article on his Blambot website that I heartily recommend to anyone interested in comics, ace letterer Nate Piekos refers to them as “Breath marks (AKA Whiskers, Fireflies, Crow’s Feet.)” Furthermore, he mentions the related pair of symbols that I refer to as a “full burst” with the following description: “If you use an opening and closing set with no word in between, you get a symbol that looks like a tiny bursting bubble that indicates death or unconsciousness of a character. This is often used to end the text in a wavy balloon.”
You might be surprised by how little agreement we have in the comics field over even the most rudimentary technical terms—or maybe not, given the contentious and—ahem—“loosey-goosey” nature of the comics idiom. For example, one of the most basic and commonly agreed-upon expressions in comics is to label the rounded shape that encloses a portion of lettering as a “balloon,” as in “word balloon” or “thought balloon.” Ah, but even this essential phrase isn’t universally accepted, as some benighted folks call it a “bubble,” as in the UK comics-art festival Thought Bubble. (As a fulminating diehard of the “balloon” tribe, my head would likely explode over the weekend if I were to attend the in-my-opinion-misnamed Thought Bubble.) Most comics creators refer to the individual drawings on a sequential-art page as “panels,” yet I know at least two folks who refer to them as “frames,” in what strikes me as a puzzling misattribution of film terminology. Hey, but why stop there, kids? Why not use your own g-d terminology for everything in comics? “Those aren’t ‘panels’ or ‘frames’—in my Nell-style personal language, I call ’em ‘Golden Winnebagos,’ because I’m so g-d quirky!” Just kidding, my unorthodox peers who use the words ‘bubbles’ and “frames’! (Or am I kidding?)
Note that, as fond as I may be of neologisms and goofy wordplay in my comics work, I really do prefer to use the clearest and theoretically coherent terminology when I discuss comics. Ah, but the eccentric and idiosyncratically individualistic nature of the field—which is something I normally enjoy about comics—doesn’t lend itself well to technical phrasing. Oh, well.