Monday, December 7, 2015

Speech Bubble and Caption Boxes in The Mighty Thor #1

The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron, Russel Dauterman, Matthew Wilson and Joe Sabino, was recently released with a new #1. Sabino, the letterer for Thor,  usese various techniques that aide the reader in making meaning. When you look at his caption boxes, they all have a particular shape and lettering. The boxes each have a curling tail, which combined with the stylized script, gives it the overall appearance of an old scroll. These elements are what Gene Krannenburg calls an meta-narrative qualities. Meta-narrative gives the reader information about the text, in this case it is a connection to the mythological aspects of the comic. There is also what Gerard Genette would call an intertextual aspect to these text boxes. Intertextuality is the connection a text makes to other texts. In this case, the lettering used in these text boxes it the same lettering that was used in the previous incarnation of Thor (Thor: God of Thunder). The lettering therefore contextualizes the comic, placing the now female version of the character in the same world as the previous male incarnation.

       Sabino used similar techniques in his speech bubbles. Most prominently, is when Jane Foster transforms into Thor. With this transformation, the lettering of Foster’s speech bubbles change from the generic comic lettering, to the more ornate lettering that is found in the caption boxes and the speech bubbles of Asgardian’s.  This change in lettering serves several functions. First, it contextualizes by allowing the reader to easily recognize her as fundamentally changed, she is now closer to an Asgardian than a mortal, with all the same powers. It also helps the reader understand that she sounds different, which, when coupled with the complete change in speech patterns, allows the reader to more easily suspend there disbelief and accept that no one recognizes her when she transforms. Finally, there is a thematic resonance in the change in lettering. In this first issue, Foster is shown to contemplate why she decides to change back. She explains that her job as Jane Foster is just as important, despite the fact that the transformations are negating the cancer treatments. However, the fact that when she transforms, the lettering changes to match the lettering of the captions, which are narration told in 1st person from Foster’s perspective, could suggest a continuing struggle between her dual-identities and the choices she will have to make in regards to it. These functions demonstrate how Sabino uses lettering to give information beyond simply what the characters are saying.

Nathanya Barnett 

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