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The Art of Comics

Sivi Sekula

Walk into any Jewish book store and the first thing to hit your eye is sure to be the latest kosher comic book! What goes into creating something so much fun?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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W hen I was growing up (many, many eons ago), the only kosher comics were the ones that came along with the weekly Jewish newspaper. There was no such thing as a Jewish comic book! A funny business, I know. Nowadays, walk into any Jewish book store and the first thing to hit your eye is sure to be the latest kosher comic book! There are literally dozens of comic books lining the shelves, ranging from historical stories, adventure, mystery, spies, you name it! Comics aren’t just fun to read; they’re fun to read about too.

Comics 101

Bet you never would have guessed that comics first appeared nearly 200 years ago. That’s right — those stuffy looking men and women in top hats and poufy dresses enjoyed reading comics as much as you do.

The first comic was a single frame with no speech bubbles; instead there was a caption at the bottom of the picture. Soon enough, a man called George Cruikshank (1792-1878) came up with the fab idea of giving voices to the characters by adding speech in balloons, and comics started to look more like the ones we know and love today.

At first, characters were drawn in a cartoon style and the plot lines were pretty hysterical (which is why they’re called “comics”). Eventually, comics became popular for historical, adventure, and sci-fi stories, too.

Behind the Scenes

Comics can be a one-man show, with the writing and drawing done by one person. Shifra Glick, creator of Shikufitzky Street, does all the writing and drawing herself. Sometimes, though, many specialists are involved in the creation of a comic. There’s the writer who thinks up and writes the storyline, the artist who draws the pictures, there may also be a penciller who sets out a first draft of the entire story in pencil, and a letterer who adds the words in speech balloons and captions.


An important part of some types of comics is the sound effects, or SFX. Huh? Sound? You got it! Even though we’re talking about comics here, they do often contain words, mostly onomatopoeias, which are supposed to represent sound. Writers will sometimes spend hours trying to figure out the best way to represent a sound in letters. How would you write the sound that a squirrel makes, for instance? One writer of a comic about a squirrel listened to loads of recordings of squirrel noises before deciding on “chhhhhtkkt.” Some of the most common sound effects are words like SLAM! and CRAAAACK. Many artists also put a lot of thought into how to draw the sound effects.


Next time you try your hand at writing and drawing a comic, give these cool tricks a whirl. Draw out the SFX in huge letters for a really loud sound, or in tiny letters to make it like a whisper. Play around with different fonts and colors, which can also affect the feel of the sound effects. (Think bold red letters for an angry sound.) Even the shape of a speech balloon can affect the way the “sound” comes across to the reader. Want to portray a character speaking in a cold tone of voice? How about at speech balloon that looks like it’s dripping icicles?

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