Comic Book Sound Effects

To capture the excitement and dynamism of the 2D drawings that appear in sequence on the page, writers must imbue their action with real world sounds. There is a fine line between capturing the perfect onomatopoeia and making a tit of themselves.

Just The Facts

  1. Comic book sound effects introduced all right-thinking people to onomatopoeias way before their class mates.
  2. They have long been a staple of comics, and as such there is a certain amount of affection for them.
  3. A Cracked reader is expected to reproduce at least one third of the sounds in the chart above with their voice.
  4. A machine gun makes the sound "ratatat" and not "urh-urh-urh-urh-urh."

Cracked on Comic Sound Effects

Sound effects in comics have to be chosen carefully, or you fall into the category of "that dude who writes comics about dongs." Incidentally, this never happened to Herge, but only because Cracked has not decided to bestow that honor upon him (yet).

Comic book sound effects have to concisely express a particular sound without any ambiguity. "DZOF," as shown above, does not fit into this category. What is the sound here? Short and sharp "DZOF" or more of a booming sound "DZOF!"? In general, avoid consonant combinations favoured by ex-Viking countries.

Unless your comic is meant to be funny, avoid sound effects that actually look like words. "BAF" works well enough for a punching sound, but "WANGO" takes you out of the realm of the dark and eerie and places you squarely in the 50s.