American comics: why are grunts and sound effects so hackneyed?


#1

“Oof!” “Aargh!” “Yeeargh!” “Bleargh!”. Okay…who decided that these are the only sound effects used for grunts (and throwing up for the last one), and why are they constantly used over and over? Granted, the current “Eeeee!” scream works much better is better than “Yeeeiiiiiiii!”, the standard scream used by Marvel all through the 80’s). Are there any writers/companies out there using semi-realistic sound effects like you’d see in manga? I mean, really: when a person breaks a bone, they don’t morph into Charlie Brown and yell “Aaargh!”. I swear, it’s like american artists and writers plan out everything…but then when it comes to sound effects, they’re like “oh, just use whatever”. If you don’t notice/care, don’t make a big deal about it. It’s just something that irks me a little when I buy a sweet-ass comic/translated manga and then run across stuff like this. Little things bug me sometimes.


#2

what manga are you talking about?

you try to find a better way to articulate the sound someone makes when theyre getting punched in the stomach. if someone gets clobbered and you make it sound too realistic its actually going to sound a bit silly. when I stub my toe I make a sound like “DAAAWTAOOOOOHYACHICKENFUCKER!!”. but it would look pretty silly if spawn stubbed his toe and said that. I think its just tradition to use those sounds more than anything else.


#3

Punched in the gut: “Guh-!” or “Guk!” a sort of retching sound. Stubbed toe…well, that all depends. On reaction to the pain, or just tripping (in the act of stubbing toe)? Hmmm…it’s easy to MAKE the sound effect, but to decide how to spell it…hmmm. You’re right, this is harder than it looks. The japanese manage to do it however, in most of their fighting manga.


#4

I don’t think it’s as bad now as it used to be in years past. Remember the days when a superhero would throw a punch while spouting a longass speech? Or a guy would get kicked through a window of a six story building and still have time to say, “I’m falling out the window! I need some help here!”

To me, sound effects are just sound effects. I’m okay with “Argh” most of all because I grew up with that word. In fact, I use it myself. The other morning I bumped my head against the wooden end of my bed and shouted “Argh!” “Oof” sounds normal to me, too. So do “guh” and “guk” and “hunh!” Those three, in particular, are what I usually grunt whenever I get punched. Maybe I also use “ugh!”

But you’re right about “bleargh” because I’ve never heard that one. However, “eeeee” seems to becoming more prevalent, and I am definitely not a fan of that one. I have never heard anyone scream “Eeeeeee!” when getting wounded, except in the videogame Perfect Dark Zero - and that scream is, by far, the worst sound effect in the entire game.

Then there are sound effects for explosions in comics. A simple “boom” will usually be enough for me, but some letterers seem to really try to get creative. I’ve seen “FRAKABABOOM!” and “FRAKADOOM!” Those actually made me laugh. I just prefer the simple, tried and true sound effects. No need to get all excessive like that, unless the comic is trying to be a satire.

Sometimes, though, I think translated manga has awkward dialogue, which I think can be worse than awkward sound effects. Maybe it’s because the translator is doing his best to do a word-for-word translation, so that’s admirable. Personally speaking, though, I’d rather have an adaptation with cleaner sounding dialogue. The English dialogue doesn’t have to be literally what the Japanese dialogue is as long as the gist of it gets across. Too much accuracy in translation can be awkward, too.


#5

One thing has really been bothering me: For the most part, Udon’s sound effects are okay…but “krunk”? An impact to the side of a face has a muted slapping sound, not a sound like metal being bent.


#6

We just don’t have as many badass onomatopoeia as the Japanese do.

Like, we could try to make explosions have more realistic sound effects, but we will instantly recognize “boom” as some type of explosion. It’s like how every country has different sounds for how a dog barks.

I remember some translated manga tried to translate the sound effects straight from Japanese. It had a robot girl going “ki ki ki ki” (I think), which is apparently the sound effect for machine rattling in Japan. I mean, if I didn’t know that, I would have no idea what that sound was. To me, it’s the sound a monkey makes.

Does anyone have that “WANG” panel with Captain America?


#7

Jeph Loeb still occasionally puts lots of action and lots of words in the same panel. It pisses me off and it makes me want to rip the book in half in a blind rage. Then I calm down and remember that I’m the idiot for reading a Jeph Loeb book.

Sound effects are one of those awkward conventions that just have to be accepted in mainstream comics, same as word balloons and lines to indicate motion. There aren’t really any more elegant ways to do what they accomplish. The awkwardness is down to subjectivity–what does it sound like when a car explodes? How do you spell what it sounds like? Your opinion probably differs from the next guy’s, and the next guy is doing the writing.