Comic Book Dialogue

| September 7, 2014

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There aren’t very many rules to comic book dialogue. I’m talking about in scripting, not in how it’s represented on the page. That’s for the letterer to deal with. Just make sure you know your terms, and things will go smoothly.

These are in no particular order, except the first few:

1. Spelling and punctuation is on the writer and editor. It is not the responsibility of the letterer.

2. There are no quotation marks in dialogue unless you’re quoting something or it’s a voiceover.

3. Oftentimes, when you end a line of dialogue from a character with an ellipsis, the next line of dialogue from that same character should start with an ellipsis. This is on a case-by-case basis.

4. There are no semi-colons in dialogue.

5. Remember the more dialogue you have, the more art it covers.

6. Economy of words is a challenge. You have to be up for the task.

7. Use the double-dash if a character is being interrupted. Not a single dash, but a double-dash.

8. Learn how to use a comma. If you passed elementary school English, then you learned how to use one. Brush up if you’re rusty.

There are more, but these are the main ones. Learn these, and you’ll get through the overwhelming bulk of your dialogue woes.

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Category: Columns, The Daily Dose

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at for rate inquiries.

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