In his article, “The Speech Balloon; or, the Problem of Representing Other Minds”, David Carrier refers to the word balloon as a “container of words we read, not an object the characters could physically touch” (36). He also says that “balloons employ both verbal and visual means to represent thought, without characterizing thought in itself” (32). In this issue, it is understood that, if there were no word balloons throughout the story, the reader could not feel the emotion they should be feeling whilst reading it.
In the second issue of Plutona there seems to be a lot going on. Aside from what the reader is getting from the images, the words also help to intensify the scenes presented. Being able to access the thoughts of the characters, adds to the story as a whole, because it gives the reader the right frame of mind for the particular comic; in this case, that something is not right. A reader can collect this by the use of word balloons within the text.
On the first page, readers can see four speech balloons. Within them there are elements which enhance the speech for the audience. In the first balloon, Ray is questioning if the dead woman they see is “Plutara”, before he gives the name, there are two dash marks (- -) which can indicate that he is pausing. This pause can add suspense, and it can also slow down time (for the reader). This is just one of many tricks the author can incorporate in the speech bubble to enhance the narrative.
Another element that can be added in the speech bubble is the use of bold text. On this page, the remaining three balloons all use the function of bold. Bold can indicate that there is tension or emphasis within what the character is saying. This gives more expression to the character than what their facial expressions imply.
Another way the word balloon can aid in the progression of the story is when they appear to change shape. When the balloon changes shape, in this specific issue, it can create an alarming and chaotic moment. On page six a fight breaks out between two characters. The reader is exposed to the first change of shape in the bubble, which allows the reader to physically see the anger that is coming from Ray. The reader can tell it breaks from normal conversation, and breaks into yelling because of the shape change. This type of balloon is also seen on page seven, when Diane yells at Ray to stop the fighting. Here, the text is also emphasizing the yelling, as the bold word feature is shown again, followed by exclamation marks.
Another function of the balloon undergoing a shape change is on the last page of the comic. Here, the shape of the balloon transforms into a bubble / cloud one can identify as a thought. The bubble is still directly coming from the character, but the little circles linking up with the bigger one show that the words are not being said. Word balloons, as described by Carrier, can be seen to be a “bridge between the image and word gap” (28). In this text, the balloons work in many different ways, as described above, in order to enhance the story told by the images. The balloons add elements that are needed in order to give the reader the full concept the author wants expressed.
By: Emily Lukas