A subtrope of Scenery Censor specific to comic style formats. Simply, a character's nudity is covered by a speech, thought, or sound effect bubble. It's usually used to imply that characters within the work are getting a full eyeful, while still preventing the audience from seeing anything. See also Censor Steam, Speech-Bubbles Interruption. Not to be confused with Symbol Swearing, where the text within the speech bubble is censored.
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Anime & Manga
- To Love-Ru: Yui's panties were accidentally cut off at the beginning of the chapter, so only Rito's exclamation prevents readers from seeing everything. And as for Rito, on the next page he gets hit on the head by a flying teapot and forgets about it.
- A rather disturbing instance in Hunter × Hunter with Hisoka. While naked and chatting with two twelve-year-old boys, his speech bubble shifts upwards as he becomes... excited.
- The published English language version of Tenjho Tenge has a lot of this artificially inserted for censorship purposes.
- Used in the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi manga once or twice.
- Non-nudity related example: In the manga of Death Note, the Third Kira of Yotsuba Group ( Higuchi), whose identity is meant to be a surprise in the manga, thinks that he should use his Death Note to kill Matsuda, but can't because if he went home alone, the others would suspect him, and his thought balloon obscures his face, preventing the reader from finding out who it is. By contrast, the anime does not attempt to hide that Higuchi is Kira.
- Another non-nudity related example in One Piece: the perpetually-hidden left eye of Sanji was once blocked by a word balloon when he was hanging upside down, and thus could not hide it with his hair as he usually does.
- And an unfortunate nudity example is in one chapter, Nami's cleavage which is usually not blocked, was this time blocked by a speech bubble.
- At the end of the Fairy Tail Special chapter "Welcome to Fairy Hills", when Lucy's cat costume disappears, a narration box is placed in front of her butt, which is a bit weird since it isn't censored in a later chapter where she flies naked around the country's capital, but then again, the series continually goes Hotter and Sexier.
- in chapter 365, when Erza is held captive and stripped naked, the censoring of her nipples alternates between sound effects, speech bubbles, her hair, and occasionally, her captor.
- In the 2010 Christmas episode of Axis Powers Hetalia, when the characters all have to strip to check their bodies for a special mark, copious amounts of speech bubbles are used to cover up all "vital regions".
- In the Heart no Kuni no Alice manga, there's a point where Blood, Elliot and the twins are having an obligatory bathhouse scene and the twins make a few smart remarks. After Elliot stands up to reprimand them, a speech bubble repeatedly manages to show up to cover up his bare butt (he's only shown from the waist up in front views).
- DC Comics' Harley and Ivy miniseries shows us the women's shower at Arkham Asylum. What isn't concealed by Censor Steam is covered by dialogue... or slapstick violence.
- America's Best Comics' The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong features an alternate reality with No Nudity Taboo. Discomfort ensues. For Tesla◊ anyway◊.
- The final page of X-Factor #47 (current volume) where Monet is nude and her butt is covered up by a word balloon.
- New Avengers #14: a scene of Spider-Woman I (Jessica Drew) on an operating table nude, surrounded by doctors. Her right breast is hidden by a utensil tray held up by one of the doctors. Her left is covered up by a word balloon. Recreated in #42.
- Mighty Avengers #12 features a scene with Nick Fury in bed with Countess DeFontaine, where her bare behind is hidden by one of these.
- Secret Six #11: A rear end view of Jeanette blocked by a word balloon. Writer Gail Simone was disappointed when she found out.
- Done in Empowered when Emp demonstrates her suit's ability to turn invisible. Her pubic region is obscured by Ninjette's exclamation of surprise. Another time when the Caged Demonwolf discovers that Ninjette is shaved "down there", his exclamation of surprise obscures the visual proof.
- World's Finest #253 uses an editorial footnote for the purpose.
- In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The "News in the Nude" anchorwoman is naked with only word balloons covering her regions.
- Son of M #1 gives Quicksilver a Shower Scene. His butt is partially covered by a narration box.
- Used with Domino in Incredible Hulks #608, during the Red She-Hulk backup story.
- An issue of The Dandy has a single speech bubble covering up Winker Watson and a schoolfriend's bits during a shower scene (and a sign being held up by an off-screen character, saying "Not a pretty sight", over another schoolboy).
- Joker actually evades this in The Killing Joke, but his word bubble did probably take your eye off an unconscious Barbara's chest sitting right next to it.
- Lampshaded in this parody of Aphrodite IX.
- In 1954, The Providence Bulletin complained about the Pogo character Simple J. Malarkey (a caricature of Joseph McCarthy), saying that they would drop the strip if Malarkey "ever showed his face again." Walt Kelly continued to use Malarkey, but covered his face in every panel, including a sequence in which his face was always behind his own speech bubble.
- Used as a gag in this Beetle Bailey strip.
Films — Live-Action
- In the Matt Helm film The Silencers, a stripper's breasts are covered up by the title.
- Scott McCloud does this in Making Comics when he talks about talk bubbles. When he mentions the placement of talk bubbles, the panel shows him as Michelangelo's David with his hair and Nerd Glasses, and his speech is covering where the statue's penis would be.
- Rare non-comic-book example: in the Sesame Street picture book "Do You Want to Play Hide-and-Seek with Lovable, Furry Old Grover?" Grover tries (unsuccessfully) to hide behind his own word balloons.
- El Goonish Shive
- Turn Signals on a Land Raider did this with daemonettes. They wouldn't have had to bother if daemons had appeared in the comic after their recent set of models were released.
- Jane taking a shower in Everyday Heroes.
- In a non-censorship example, Something*Positive uses this to obscure a revelation by covering other speech bubbles here and here. The first one is even part of a conversation lampshading its purpose.
- Last Res0rt takes an entire page of Jigsaw and Daisy in the buff (for a clothing scan) and obscures it with their conversation.
- Used once with an unusually oblong bubble in The Class Menagerie.
- Ménage à 3 employs this for comedy on occasion:
- See strip #750 (June 4, 2013; nonetheless NSFW) for one example. It's maybe doubly necessary and doubly funny here because Senna is a transsexual, and casual readers may not realise exactly what they're not seeing.
- Strip #756 (June 20, 2013, probably NSFW) also uses this. The added twist here is that Yuki may be able see the thing which is covered by the speech bubble — angles are hard to judge — but it will be better for everyone if she can't.
- Mynarski Forest managed with mere large text, no bubble.
- Used in Fite! after Guz's Full-Frontal Assault. Made stranger by the bubble in question being Visible Silence.
- Done here in The KAMics.
- Happens in a panel of the The Order of the Stick when Roy and Durkon yelling NO briefly covers Elan's Genitals.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures : In this strip, Abel demonstrates his shapeshifting abilities to Dan by changing into a female form... without putting on a shirt first. Guess where one of his speech bubbles is located.
- In Sluggy Freelance, for the "Years of Yarncraft" arc, Zoe's speech bubble covers the assets of a Rose Elf, while explaining why at the same time.
Zoe: Her outfit is totally see-through and she's not wearing any underwear!
- A shower scene in Crossoverkill uses this to hide Mindmistress and Hoodoo's assets. Poor Yuuki.
- Very common in Exiern. Just one prominent example.
- Blip has Bishop's roommate naked.
- Thanks to this trope Sunstone manages to be tasteful despite it's status as an erotic character study of a BDSM relationship.
- Seen in Blaster Nation — e.g. here.
- Paradox Space uses this in the Summerteen Romance arc; at one point Tavros has a Bizarre Alien Biology response when someone flirts with him. The imagery note squicked out so many people that the authors covered it up with a bunch of speech bubbles of Dave humorously describing what was going on.