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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/19/2008

The Morning Line: When Sounds Have Just the Right Effect

By Michael Cavna

In his new "10-pound" coffee-table book "Dilbert 2.0," cartoonist Scott Adams says he prides himself on a particular comic gift: His knack for coining the right word to match the desired sound effect.

As one who has wrestled mightily with nailing the "piffs," "sploofs" and "ker-splats," I can speak from cartooning experience -- this gift should not be underappreciated. It's a rare ear that gets it just right.

As proof of how important the Art of the Cartoon Sound Effect is, cast your "ears," if you will, toward today's funnies.

An ear to the ground of sound. (NEA) Enlarge Comic

In "Big Nate," a lesser cartoonist might assign the word "crack" to the opening of a laptop instead of the righter, and lighter, "Fwip!" And then there's Nate's typing. Some cartoonists settle for a mere "tap tap" or even "type type," but Lincoln Peirce gives us the eloquent "Tik tak tik tikka takka..."

And there is today's "Brewster Rockit," in which Tim Rickard lets the words tell the story.

Words tell the picture. (TMS) Enlarge Comic

What strikes me most about Rickard's choices is that he moves from the more obvious, "Batman"-esque "Pow!" "Biff!" and "Bam!" to "Doink!" (can't-ya just hear it?) and then one literal sound I too rarely see: "Hurt!"

Likewise, 'Riffs looks at "Lio" and admires the paintball sound effects.

Spoofing with a "poof." (UPS) Enlarge Comic

Another artist might have gone with "pow!" or "blam!" and missed the airy sound of a projectiled paintball. Five "poof's!" : Here is a one-panel symphony.

Lastly, Rover in today's "Red and Rover" makes the common "pant" sound. But by the time a coupla dozen "pants" have permeated the frosty air, I can hear the friendly sounds of every dog I've ever owned.

Hound sounds. (WPWG) Enlarge Comic

Got a favorite effect? (Perhaps the "klik" with Spidey's "Hitler Gump" or the "thump" in "Fastrack.") We're all ears. Literally.

King Features announces that it is launching "Comics Kingdom," a digital platform that will deliver comics content to online newspaper publishers. The core of "Comics Kingdom," in effect, will be a content-based ad engine. So what's that mean for readers? For one thing, viewers on any subscribing news site will reportedly have access to all King Features comics (from "Blondie" to "Beetle Bailey" to "Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee"). For more details, check out King Features' site.

By Michael Cavna  | November 19, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Wren's "Thup thup thup" - I think Hammie was using it with his soother yesterday too.

Posted by: marshlc | November 19, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Jimbo -- I liked your "croc" comment from yesterday.

Just sayin'

Posted by: f-squared | November 19, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

So we can't see the Brewster fight, but why can't we see the background? Even if it's a white room, where's the line between floor and wall?

He really did take the day off.

Posted by: f-squared | November 19, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Really now, a post on comic strip sound effects without a shout-out to Don Martin? For shame!

Posted by: drewdane | November 25, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

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