I’d like to take a moment of silence… to appreciate moments of silence.
Over the last month, I’ve been working my way through a TV series called Foyle’s War. It’s really serious, with sparse moments of humor, and well-written dialogue. But what I really love about the show is the silence, the non-verbals. Foyle often reacts to statements and questions with the simple twitch of his mouth or a raised eyebrow. It’s amazing to me how much the actor (Michel Kitchen) communicates without a single utterance. His dialogue can be totally minimalized, and he’s still entirely effective. It’s pure artistic joy to watch.
Dialogue is ridiculously fun to write. Witty banter, sharp come-backs, cutting one-liners… It can be addictive, really. When it comes to prose (such as short stories and novels), it’s kind of cumbersome, but you can get away with it. But I don’t just write prose, I write comics. And wordy conversations actually can’t work well in a comic, simply because the words have to share a space with the pictures. What’s worse is when you have external dialogue (with another person) AND internal dialogue (narration/thoughts) competing with each other and the imagery. AUGH.
To work around this, I’ve started challenging myself to leave out ALL word balloons (and thus dialogue) unless there is NO other way to communicate with the reader. Lemme tell ya, it’s hard. I want to be deep, man, so I want to write every deep thought that comes into my head. Because that’s the only way, right?
After watching several hours (back-to-back) of Foyle’s War, I’ve decided that words are superfluous 80% of the time, in comics and movies. I’ve decided that if words are necessary to get a point across, then it’s possible that the images are off. And it just won’t be effective.
This blog is a bit of a “scraping the bottom” type entry, but I’m interested in the concept of silence. I’ll have to try drawing a “silent” comic sometime…