About this font family
The font Speech Bubbles offers a convenient way to integrate text and image. While the font can be used to design comics, it also gives the typographer a tool to make text speak – to give words conversational dynamics and to emphasize visually the sound of the message. The font includes a total of seventy outlines and seventy bubble backgrounds selected from a survey of historic forms. What follows is a discussion of my process researching and developing the font, as well as a few user suggestions. More…
My work on the Speech Bubbles font began with historic research. My first resource was a close friend who is a successful German comic artist. I had previously worked with him to transform his lettering art into an OpenType font. This allowed his publishing house to easily translate cartoons from German to other languages without the need to use another font, like Helvetica rounded.
My friend showed me the most exciting, outstanding and graphically appealing speech bubbles from his library. I looked at early strips from Schulz (Peanuts), Bill Waterson (Calvin & Hobes), Hergé (TinTin), Franquin, as well as Walt Disney. The most inspiring was the early Krazy Kat and Ignatz (around 1915) from George Herriman. I also studied 1980’s classics Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen, Frank Miller’s Ronin and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vandetta. Contemporary work was also a part of my research—like Liniers from Macanudo and work of Ralf König.
With this overview in mind I began to work from scratch. I tried to distill the typical essence of each author’s or era’s speech bubbles style into my font. In the end I limited my work down to the seventy strongest images.
An important aspect of the design process was examining each artist’s speech bubble outlines. In some cases they are carefully inked, as in most of the 80’s work. In others, such as with Herriman, they are fast drawn with a rough impetus. The form can be dynamic and round (Schultz) with a variable stroke width, or straight inked with no form contrast (Hergé). Since most outlines also carry the character of the tool that they are made with, I chose to separate the outline from the speech bubble fill-in or background. This technical decision offers interesting creative possibilities. For example, the font user can apply a slight offset from fill-in to outline, as it is typical to early comic strips, in which there are often print misalignments. Also, rather than work in the classic white background with black outline, one can work with colors. Many tonal outcomes are possible by contrasting the fill-in and outline color.
The Speech Bubbles font offers a dynamic and quick way to flavor information while conveying a message. How is something said? Loudly? With a tint of shyness? Does a rather small message take up a lot of space? The font’s extensive survey of historic comic designs in an assembly that is useful for both pure comic purposes or more complex typographic projects. Use Speech Bubbles to give your message the right impact in your poster, ad or composition.