Pictorial Speech Bubble
Speech Bubbles do, in fact, contain just this: a picture. Pictorial Speech Bubbles are generally used in two ways. First, to show the general gist of what the character is saying, without focusing on what their exact words are. Second, to represent the character's general mood, attitude or thoughts, even when he isn't specifically saying anything. It's not always easy to tell the two variations apart. Rebus Bubble and Symbol Swearing are subtropes. Compare also Speaking in Panels.
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Anime and Manga
- Gag comics such as Mortadelo y Filemón commonly have pictures in speech bubbles whenever a character is supposed to curse; for example, in the speech bubble there would be a pig with the face of another person if the character was angry and shouting at him, or just the picture of a turd when someone was supposed to say "shit!".
- The Astérix comic books use speechbubbles with different typefaces to represent characters speaking in various languages. Egyptians speak in hieroglyphics. Once, when Obelix attempts to speak the Egyptians' language, his speechbubble is filled with badly drawn animals and stick-figures.
- In Meta4 by Ted McKeever this is how Gasolina talks. It's actually the font Dingbats, but the effect is the same.
- In Theme Park, kids have this kind of bubbles hovering over their heads to show how they feel about your park or what is bothering them.
- The Sims talk in these.
- Web Game But That Was Yesterday. All of the characters who communicate in the game use this technique. For example, when someone wants to tell another character to "get up" or "jump", their speech bubble holds an up arrow.
- In Jumper Three, Ogmo and the planet's natives communicate with each other using speech bubbles with pictures in them.
- In Dubloon, when Russel saves Ricky without saving his owner Riley first, Ricky will ask where Riley is with a speech bubble depicting his head, to which Russel replies with speech bubble showing a shaking head.
- The Prehistoric chapter of Live A Live has everyone talk this way, since spoken language doesn't exist yet.
- In Girl Genius, Bangladesh DuPree gets a few of these after her jaw is broken.
- Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan have sometimes bubbles still containing some text, but with added pictures framing it for the mood. For example, an extremely old witch has speech bubbles with frayed borders and spiderwebs in it. In another case, a diplomat has a voice so icy it is framed in ice with stalactites underneath, and a polar bear, penguin and igloo on top.
- In this El Goonish Shive sketchbook strip, Susan and Sarah speak using these.
- Criminy used to do this all the time when reading to Fuchsia in Sinfest, one of those episodes leading directly to her rather spectacular Heel-Face Turn.
- In an episode of Family Guy, when Lois revealed that her wealthy father offered them a million dollars after she and Peter were newly married, but she turned it down because "they could make their own way", Peter has a thought bubble containing an animation that showed him killing Lois rather violently.