Hacking Speech

I should say first of all that this blog is based around the new comic series Hacktivist, which came out yesterday and which I found to be quite engaging. It is an interesting series and story and worth checking out. Aside from the main story, there was a separate little comic related concept, at least in terms of display that I found interesting, and that was the Arabic speech bubbles:

I do sometimes like to pick out minor details about comics, and this one was no exception. When it comes to speech bubbles, they can often be embellished without any specific purpose except if drawn thematically we might understand the context of the distorted voice - demonic, alien, computer. In this case though, instead of the usual manner in which to show foreign dialogue (usually with broken line and then identifying the dialogue), the dialogue is instead identified with some Arabic script, which makes the action fit in Tunisia. I do not speak Arabic so I do not know what is being said, but the simple use of a little script is much more effective than anything else I have seen when it comes to foreign languages.

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Posted by etragedy

This looks like a brand new innovation in comics - I have never seen this convention used before. It's actually attractive and useful, I hope it catches on when portraying foreign languages in comics.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@etragedy: I wan't sure, usually when I make such a claim, someone comes forward and tells me that I am wrong, but if a comic expert like yourself says so, then maybe I am right this time ... ?

Edited by cbishop

This looks like a variation on putting the speech in "<>" brackets, with an asterisk that refers to a caption box, that states "*Translated from the Arabic." The Arabic speech at the top of the bubble is in red, and then the English directly under it is in red, so I take that red English to be the translation of the red Arabic.

Then when it switches to the black-lettered English, we could assume that either we are seeing translated Arabic from here on, or that the characters have switched to speaking English. Which it is would depend largely on whether the red Arabic-to-English translations continue throughout the issue. If they do, then the characters are switching back-and-forth form Arabic to English. If it doesn't continue throughout, then it could be either or, but it is likely that we are reading "translated" Arabic throughout.

Posted by etragedy

Yeah, I almost mentioned in my comment that this is so much more efficient than the <words in angle brackets>*

*and the editorial box below that makes the eyes have to travel down the page to see some editorial notes at the bottom telling us what language it's in. The way it's done above, you instantly know it's arabic (or a related dialect) even if you aren't literate in that language.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@etragedy: I noticed that the symbols that they chose were the same at least in the one panel.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@cbishop: Alternately this could be like in movies where they talk in another language for a bit before changing into English, with the understanding that they are still speaking the original language.

Posted by cbishop

@razzatazz: That's what I was talking about, when I mentioned the black-lettered English. ;)

Posted by RazzaTazz
Edited by cbishop

@razzatazz: S'alright. It was perhaps a tad unclear.

Posted by etragedy
Edited by etragedy
Posted by pikahyper

I think the text in black was always English and I don't think I've ever seen this technique used before either and I really like it. As for the Arabic text it actually says "Arabic" that's why it is the same for both bubbles, it's very smart ;)

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