I'm currently writing my first graphic novel/comic and am wondering when people feel SFX should be added. I know it probably depends on the tone of the story (for reference mine leans on the more serious side, a sci-fi civil war story). I know for myself I intend to limit them mainly to combat scenes.

Some comics like Walking Dead seem to have SFX for every action in combat scenes, from explosions to gunshots, where as others such as Marvel's X-Men doesn't. Just flipping through X-Men 8-10, many actions such as slashing of swords and explosions had no SFX whatsoever, while others did, which kind of confuses me.

So this leaves me with the question of when should I add them? Are there some cases such as a particularly significant explosion when no SFXs should be added? What's the general rule, if any?

Any advice and thoughts on this topic are much appreciated, thanks :)

1 Answer 1


There is no general rule for this. If and when onomatopoeiae and ideophones are used is an individual stylistic decision for each comic. Genre conventions might give some orientation regarding reader expectation. American superhero comics and Japanese action manga employ more sound words than traditional European BD, but there is variation within these genres to some extent.

As the use of sound words is more of a visual and design deciscion, I would involve the visual artist(s) in this or even leave it to them. If you look at examples of comic scripts, the sound words are not usually part of the scriptwriting.

A good strategy to find your own style might be to take one or a few published examples that are close to what you are aiming for both in content and style and use that as a guidebook for what to do.

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