Silent or wordless comics is a subject that often comes up but cannot be answered easily. Ironic that figuring out how to stay silent would be the subject of so many conversations. I’ve always felt that words can quickly become a excuse. A panel should speak for itself and understandable without words. This is one of the reason why my newest stories are almost wordless. But of course, some concept are much harder to explain without words. Impossible maybe even, I don’t know. But I always thrive to reduce the amount of text when possible. Here’s a few thoughts on making comics without words:

On movement

As far as how to learn to represent movement clearly, a few things can be done.

  1. Watch silent movies and try to capture how they move without stopping the movie. They often have clever ways of “saying” things without words.
  2. It is much harder to represent kinetic energy when drawing realistically. This is one of those moments where it’s better to bend the rules otherwise your characters will look stiff. Cartoonists like John K (Ren & Stimpy) are masters of those distortions but i feel it’s a little easier when you have a cartoonish style. He has an amazing blog where he shares some of his tricks.
  3. Understand the concept of line of action by drawing people moving. Stick figures are enough for this exercise. The more you do the more comfortable you’ll be.

Establishing mood

If for example your goal is to create a horror story, then you should ask yourself what makes your skin crawl? Why? Explore this. Giger’s amazing paintings are a reflection of his nightmares. Another good thing to do is studies of classic horror movies with exceptional lighting. Newer horror movies typically don’t really do anything to me. It follows had interesting lightning. The Exorcist had some great scenes as well. Lighting is paramount in establishing mood.

Another thought for you. Sometimes it’s more scary not to see a scene. Think of the famous shower scene in Psycho. You don’t see the murder happen at all, but it’s much more powerful this way. Leveraging the imagination of your readers is key here.


Obviously much more could be said about silence 😉 Books have been written about it I’m sure. But I hope this small post will be useful to you.

Note: Featured picture is from my upcoming story Trinket. Learn more here.

Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love hear your comments and see what you come up with!

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