Hey there folks. I'm sure that you're all still reeling from the wicked-cool fishing post that I did last week, but trust me: this week we're heading toward even cooler waters with some good ol' talk about punctuation, the coolest thing since etymology!
See, I was bopping around Wikipedia last week and I happened upon the article on the sadly-underused interrobang, which then led me to read of the exclamation mark, and on that page there's a section on how comics - and especially older comics - tended to use them almost to the exclusion of the period. Now, this was back in the day, when printing processes were more primitive and art was a bit more standardized, and people have gotten pretty good at conveying body language nowadays. In combination with the standard punctuation that we all know and love as well as techniques like bolding significant words and maybe sometimes giving speech balloons crinkly borders or something, comic bookers can convey a pretty wide range of emotion and tone. But what, my little brain asks, if some of the more unusual punctuation that has been invented over the years was incorporated into the experience? Could things get even better?
(Just a note here: Dave and Tiina have been deriving a fair amount of amusement out of my tendency toward researching the things that I write about here on Johnathan Super Saturday Excellent Extravaganza. I totally swear that I went no further than Wikipedia for this. Though I guess I did consider getting a book from the library.)
The interrobang is more of a stylistic thing than most of the bits of punctuation that will follow. It was created in 1962 by an advertising executive by the name of Martin Speckter and was meant to replace the odd-looking-yet-frequently-used pairing of ! and ?. I could get into the interrobang seeing more use in the comix. Here, I made an example (a famous example):
Well, that was my reaction upon first hearing of this one. Uh, sorry that the interrobang is so tall. Frankenstinian punctution so often is, after all.
I was kind of disappointed because I couldn't find any information on two other bits of punctuation that I heard about years ago and seem to remember that Speckter had a hand in. One was like an exclamation mark but had three spikes coming off of it instead of one, the theory being that advertising had overused the exclamation to the point that it had no meaning any more and needed a replacement. The second had a whopping five spikes coming off of it and was created preemptively for when the three-spike variety became overused. They fill me with cynical delight!
The Acclamation Point
This isn't the best bit of punctuation ever, I admit, but it's alphabetically the first in a group suggested in 1966 by author Hervé Bazin. It's the weakest of the bunch due to the fact that it resembles the younger brother of those multi-spike exclamation points that I was talking about earlier and also due to the fact that it's pretty easy to convey acclaim without needing special punctuation for it. Still, the shocked looks on everyone's faces whenever Batman gave someone a compliment might be extra-intense if he had one of these bad boys at the end of whatever minor bit of approval that he might deign to dole out.
The Authority Point
Another good one for Batman - in fact, it should probably go on the end of about half of his sentences. Here:
Now: isn't that more authoratative? He's threatening to spank her in a firm, commanding tone.
On that note, the authority point could make for some good "this guy is an asshole" shorthand, given how many super-heroes are hotshot young mavericks with something to prove. A Guardian of the Universe or a government agent could signal that they were to be held in contempt with one authority point-adorned sentence. Alternately, in a team book, this mark could tie a whole issue together - say the Justice League is beaten and near-defeated and then Superman stands up and rallies them around him with a cry of "Get the crumb-bums" - such a stirring moment!
The Certitude Point
Looks very similar to the authority point, which makes some sense. This is another one that perhaps isn't as needed on a regular basis. But! What if it was repurposed as the attitude point? Suddenly, all of those snot-nosed young mavericks with something to prove would have something to use as they mouthed off to the guys that were using the authority point. Also, teenagers.
The Doubt Point
A bit too complex for my tastes, but would be handy for books about the paranormal. As the requisite skeptical character (the Scully, for those in the field) is drawn further and further into the world of shoggoths and wills-o-the-wisp, his or her sentences could slide gradually toward acceptance of the supernatural, beginning with doubt points, changing to question marks partway through and then at the climactic moment rocking the full certitude point. Oh, I changed it to attitude point, didn't I? Well, Cthulhu could stand to get some attitude now and then.
The Indignation Point
More punctuaton for defining stock characters. If you use an indignation point then you're a stuffed shirt, a society type of the sort that might end up employing the Three Stooges or acting as a foil to the Marx Brothers. If you rock this thing in a comic book you're going to be humiliated by the Creeper or someone at best and eaten by something gross at worst. Or both.
The Irony Mark
The Wikipedia entry on the irony mark is where I fond most of the rest of these guys. It has its own entry because irony is cool, if misunderstood. This thing should be in use all over the comic book as a medium - just think how many characters define themselves by their habit of making wise-acre comments all the time. Heck, there's also a sarcasm mark that looks like the Spanish favourite inverted exclamation mark (¡) - how many characters would there be who never ended a sentence with anything other than those two? Note that the sarcasm mark is actually something that is actually used in the the Ethiopic language, making it and them super-cool.
I felt compelled to use this one as an example due to the fact that Batman has gotten so much attention for the 'Papa spank" thing in recent years - look, Wonder Woman did it too! And included bondage and mind-control, naturally.
The Love Point
Slightly sickening to look at, isn't it? It could come in useful for comics with a lot of teenage crushing going on but what else could the beat-you-over-the-head-with-what-it's-for love point be good for? I'll tell you what it's good for: elevating the art of taking panels out of context to a whole new level:
Isn't it just too creepy? Speaking of which, I coudn't resist:
I'll leave you with that.