Why Are All Our Words in Bubbles?

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Scott McCloud, the author of “Understanding Comics,” called the bubbles the graphic equivalent of quotation marks.

He said that the comics pioneer Will Eisner had called word balloons a “desperation device.”

Mr. Eisner was referring to the struggle to represent sound in a soundless medium.

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Mr. McCloud added that bubbles created a consistent amount of negative space around words, which was desirable from a graphic standpoint.

The rounded edges of text bubbles also gave messages a soft, friendly connotation.

That’s an element especially useful in texted communication, where tone and body language are absent.

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Mr. McCloud said that hard edges and right angles conveyed an unintended sharpness.

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Ambiguity, especially in text messages and online, tends to be perceived negatively.

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