dialogue balloons – the cartoon take

July 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

An addition to the still ongoing series on words on the image theme we have here at flycz: the cartoon version. This is an example from Bobby Bumps, the 1916-1919 cartoon series from Bray studios (thanks to the Bray Animation Project) :

A simple solution to the inter-title problem, in line with other cartoon-based methods of commenting and orienting the action on screen used widely at the time — I’m thinking of the question or exclamation marks so frequent in more famous Felix the Cat series, or the literal eye-line used also in this same Bobby Bumps :

What’s odd is that earlier in that Bobby Bumps usual inter-titles are indeed used :

Does this incoherence reflect an ambiguous positioning of American cinema’s aesthetics circa the late 1910s as regards the inter-title issue and the whole question of allowing words to appear on the image ? Not that words on the image disappear later in the 1920s either, as we’ve started to document on this website (see here for a live-action example, there for another, later, cartoon example).

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§ 2 Responses to dialogue balloons – the cartoon take

  • The impression I get—odd as it still is—is that intertitles were reserved for the dialogue that was deemed most important.
    Then, when the cartoons were reissued in other languages, the intertitles were replaced with local translations, while the dialogue balloons were either simply cut out or left in English.

    I’ve seen Dinky Doodle and Felix shorts that were handled this way in France.
    That said, still waiting for more information to come to light; one country’s methods aren’t necessarily every country’s.

  • Fabrice says:

    Thanks for the comment ! I like the second suggestion the best 🙂 : that the relatively rare survival of on-screen, on-image text would be due to distribution methods and low print survival rates, combining to expunge on-image text while retaining inter titles. This said, more info is indeed needed on this.

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