Follow TV Tropes



Go To
This is what happens when a comic's story literally transcends the capacity of the page to contain it (or at least, when the author thinks so).

In a Textplosion, the comic becomes an illustrated novel, or even a novel without any illustration at all. Note that this does NOT include comics which are crammed with word balloons or narration; that would be a Wall of Text. If the format is still recognizable as a comic (that is, most panels having things happening in them), as opposed to a glorified novel with a few pictures or even none, you have not witnessed a Textplosion.

Causes for the shift can be rather diverse, to include such things as the plot mushrooming out of control, the author deciding they can better express themselves in pure text, or simple artistic laziness.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the nature of the story and whether a Textplosion is intended as its own sort of plot device. However, a sudden or long-term shift from graphic art to Textplosion, regardless of quality or content, often results in losing large portions of readership—since, after all, they came to read a comic.

Sister Trope of Wall of Text (extremely lengthy paragraphs in written media), Wall of Blather (a wall of text containing a backdrop character's ramblings), and Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue (when nothing else happens while the characters talk); all of which can exist within the usual comic dialogue format. Sub-Trope of Painting the Medium if the sudden abundance of text serves an ulterior purpose.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bastard!! (1988): There's at least one scene, where the author just outright goes "I don't feel like drawing this, so let me describe what happened instead."
  • Hunter × Hunter: It can get a bit silly about this occasionally. Because much of the fighting action revolves around characters overthinking the moves and strategies of their foes, you can sometimes end up with whole pages dedicated to their thought processes alone. The standout example, however, is a chapter in which one character goes blind and the chapter is seen through his perspective, so it consists of 19 pages of black panels with speech balloons and 1 page at the end of the Chimera Ant King and Komugi dying together. It formerly provided the page image.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Kinji Hakari's Domain Expansion is so pointlessly complicated it beams its own rules directly into his opponent's head because Explaining Your Powers to the Enemy would take too long. There's a whole, two-page spread, diagram explaining the mechanics of the magical pachinko machine- and the actual effects of the thing can be explained as 'Hakari rolls until he hits a jackpot, at which point he becomes immortal for four minutes and starts rolling again'.
  • Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms: Justified Trope. At the end of the manga, the illustrations disappear when Minami becomes too ill from radiation poisoning to open her eyes.

    Comic Books 
  • Cerebus the Aardvark:
    • In the comic's world, a very popular form of literature is "reads", which are essentially Light Novels. The Reads arc portrayed this by interspersing the normal comic pages, which told the main story, with two other stories depicted in the "reads" style, with pages of text accompanied by occasional full-page illustrations.
    • The latter half of the Latter Days arc revolves around Cerebus giving a very idiosyncratic exegesis on the Torah. This is depicted almost entirely in text, with occasional pics of Cerebus examining the Torah scrolls with a magnifying glass and other small illustrations.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Presents): The fate of the Badoon captured on Earth is outlined on a single page. However, rather than speech bubbles and comic panels, it's a single image accompanied by a column of text.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • During the "5 years later" arc, text pages were often used to provide exposition on events that occurred during the Time Skip or other background information.
    • Issue #38, in which the Earth is destroyed by an environmental disaster, is told entirely in illustrated prose.
  • Limekiller at Large: The book is about 50% to 60% text.
  • Scion: One issue pays homage to Prince Valiant by being made in the same style. The art was laid out sideways, formatted like a Sunday newspaper strip, and the text was separate from the art, just like in Prince Valiant. An earlier, acclaimed issue of Scion was formatted like an illustrated novel, with blocks of text, sometimes integrated with the art.
  • Sins of Sinister: The first issue of Storm and the Brotherhood of Mutants features an Opening Scroll summarising the events of the previous ten years.
  • Strangers in Paradise did this from time to time, under the pretence that the reader was looking at pages from a SIP prose novel.
  • Tarzan: Burne Hogarth, who had done the Newspaper Comic version for many years, published a couple of Graphic Novels using text taken directly from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. The art is gorgeous, especially in Jungle Tales of Tarzan.
  • Thieves & Kings is about 50% comic and 50% illustrated text.
  • Warrior: The entire comic, by The Ultimate Warrior. Check out Spoony's review of it. There's enough text to make your eyes hurt.
  • X-Men:

    Comic Strips 
  • Doonesbury: A few strips were like this. There were a few strips that were nothing but a long list of names.
  • Prince Valiant: It stands out as an example of a Sunday-only Comic Strip which has always used this format. Speech bubbles are rather scarce.

    Video Games 
  • XenoGears: Due to harsh deadlines forcing the developers to choose between leaving the story off on a cliffhanger or telling the rest of it in highly compressed form, many scenes were cut out of Disc 2 and replaced with cutscenes of the characters doing an Exposition Break.

  • Alien Dice features a paragraph accompaniment below every comic. Sometimes the text restates what just happened, and sometimes it tells a completely different story, which can lead to some confusion.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del switched into this for the "Winter-een-mas 2012/Game Games Bowl" story-arc. Tim Buckley has said that doing it in comic form would have taken several months, long past the Winter-een-mas "season," and that he didn't want to do another long-term comic story arc so soon after the "Scott and Ted" arc. It... works pretty well, actually.
  • Darkbolt: In the issue where Shiori talks about her brother and their past, illustrations gradually become scarcer as the amount of exposition grows.
  • Erfworld: The writer started doing text updates to cover the gap between the strip's first and second artists. The updates were accompanied by a single panel of fan art and generally followed the comic's main story. When the second artist started to have personal issues, the text updates returned and were eventually announced as becoming a permanent part of the strip. Between the second and third artists, text updates returned full-time to flesh out the backstories of some secondary characters. With a new artist on board, the comic now alternates panels and text in the main storyline, and there are now weekly updates to text-only stories inspired by the strip's Kickstarter backers.
  • Elf Life has vacillated between comic and novel styles over the years.
  • Goblins sometimes has filler in the form of a single panel depicting another one of the previous paladins who wielded the magic axe and a long description of how they got it.
  • God(tm): Several textplosions are used to interrupt the story to explain such things as the Robotech Saga and a system of censorship.
  • Homestuck: All dialogues are shown below the illustrations, and some are quite long.
  • Keith Knight sometimes lets the text dominate over the art in his cartoons.
  • Negative One
  • Paranatural: The seventh chapter switches to an illustrated novel format halfway through due to the author suffering from wrist strain.
  • Particle Fiction: Issue #8 is sparse in illustrations, the storytelling suddenly relying on text.
  • qxlkbh: "131: debate" is particularly text-heavy, to the point that two of the four panels are almost entirely occupied by dialogue. To make it easier to read, each of them has been split into three trapezoidal subpanels containing each line of dialogue.
  • Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan: Some strips use wordless strips with text boxes rather than regular comic format.
  • Sister Claire: The story alternates between a Sequential Art format for the main plot and illustrated prose that delves into the character's backstories.
  • Sonichu is notorious for this, often taking entire pages up with nothing but exposition, usually on comic sans.
  • Subnormality: Several instances go beyond Wall of Text and straight into this trope.