Dave Gibbons Talks To Stephen Fry About Comic Book Sound Effects

Fry’s English Delight is a BBC Radio 4 show about the English language written and presented by Stephen Fry now in its ninth series. In the most recent episode called ‘The Story of Oh!’, freely available worldwide internationally online, they had one very special guest who popped up. A certain Dave Gibbons. Who was on hand to talk about the onomatopoeic nature of comic book sound effects, both in terms of the actual words and the visual shape they can make. And, yes, including a rather famous Captain America panel…

The description of the episode in question is below, but you can listen to the whole thing here. And you really should. And then all the other episodes too.

Stephen Fry with a story of sounds . From the involuntary sounds people make – Oh! Ah! Mmmm, Ooops – to some of our favourite onomatopoeia – Bang!, crash, Kapow! and tinkle.

Ummm!, Phht and Yipee! are, strictly speaking, interjections not words. But, if Oh! is an involuntary noise humans make rather than a word, isn’t that also a kind of onomatopoeia? According to linguist Richard Ogden, reader in phonetics and linguistics at the University of York, interjections like Oh! and onomatopoeia like Kapow! are linked on a sliding scale.

Stephen tries to look at this practically by talking to comedian Spencer Jones who communicates on stage almost entirely using an extraordinary repertoire of crazy noises and interjections. He explains why these sounds create intimacy and warm humour.

But our story of Oh! is also about language imitating non human sound and the beauty of onomatopoeia – words like cuckoo, tinkle and plop. Stephen talks to graphic novelist and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons about the specialised lexicon of onomatopoeia in comic book and graphic art work, and about the odd games graphic artists play when they’re developing new fillings for speech bubbles.

But how does our story of Oh! translate into other languages? Why is foreign onomatopoeia different to English onomatopoeia if both are mimicking the same sound? We hear from Professor Catherine Laing and from illustrator James Chapman about onomatopoeia in Korean, Spanish and Japanese. It’s one of the most remarkable features of comparing foreign languages to our own – we’re hearing exactly the same sound but producing wildly different interpretations of the words to represent those sounds.

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

The post Dave Gibbons Talks To Stephen Fry About Comic Book Sound Effects appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

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