Follow TV Tropes

Following

Signature Style / Comic Books

Go To

  • Chris Claremont could be said to have such characteristics, most notably his famously distinct yet uniform dialogue in which characters, regardless of education or current situation, inevitably speak in complex sentences, seldom finishing in less than a paragraph, using verbiage reminiscent of an educated Englishman, with influences of culture and personality appearing only as interruptions in or minor affectations to otherwise wicked smooth speech. This, however, inevitably strives to capture the essence of the character, despite the abandonment of a unique speech pattern in favor of a common one, by exposing opinions, motivations, and past details that might otherwise have been difficult to illustrate.
    • As well, certain phrases known as "Claremontisms" show up repeatedly in his work, and his foreign characters speak perfect English except for random interjections in their native language, tovarisch! A helpful list of typical Claremontisms here. Also, Claremont characters tend to be well-versed in myth, and a larger than strictly plausible number of them are SF lit geeks.
    • Claremont is also well-known for creating strong, powerful heroines. Who happen to be ludicrously attractive. With not infrequent suggestions of attraction to one another.
    • Advertisement:
    • And finally, his most distinctive trait is that he overwrites everything. Every little action must be narrated, no matter how effective the art is. He became aware of how this grated on people, and so his newer works are better about it, but it's still kinda there.
  • Frank Miller is famous for his ''hard-boiled'' narration, including a play-by-play on every punch and broken rib, along with the even nastier things the hero would do to the villain. And short blunt sentences. Short. Blunt. Short blunt sentences that repeat. Repeat a lot. Repeat a lot. His female characters are often strong-willed, but usually also victimized. They're often also prostitutes. As an artist, Miller is most famous for abstract figure work and scenery focusing more on expression, aesthetics and readability than anything resembling reality, done in high contrast black and white with sparing use of contour lines. Miller's black and white style is so strong that anyone in comics who uses the same high contrast approach will be inevitably compared to him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adam Warren of Empowered and Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone who loves his even more over-the-top pseudo-Miller bits. His recurring favorite. "DON'T.. GO.. INTO.. SHOCK.." Other things he likes are fish lips, giant grins, transhumanism, and Buffy Speak.
  • With James Robinson, it's not so much writing style as it is a tendency to emphasize words completely at random such that most of his characters must sound like the bastard child of Mr. DeMartino from Daria and Torgo.
  • Comics written by Grant Morrison tend to have endings that go way too fast so that everything can get tied up. The World War III arc of JLA — his last on the book — features all of humanity developing superpowers. We get to see it for three pages. However, works featuring his own characters rather than pre-created ones tend to have better endings.
    • Morrison also has a propensity to get rather... "out there" with his plot concepts, with speculative fantasy, genre mash-ups, meta-textual elements, alternate character interpretations, and general synesthesia being common. This all results in questions of his ideas origins.
      • With The Invisibles, Morrison has openly admitted he used his drug experiences as an inspiration for parts of it, going as far as including transcriptions of a tape of him and his friends tripping on LSD in a scene in the comic where King Mob and his friends do the same.
    • Advertisement:
    • Many of Morrison's comics also feature a character who looks not unlike Grant Morrison. This is most explicit in Animal Man, where Morrison actually appears as himself, the writer of Animal Man.
      • A strong runner-up in the Author Avatar sweepstakes is King Mob in The Invisibles, whom Morrison freely admitted (everywhere except in the comic itself) was his stand-in. The relationship got weird when Morrison came down with a life-threatening and hard-to-explain illness after writing a story that saw King Mob severely tortured by the baddies. Morrison took full advantage after recovering by throwing King Mob into some blatantly hedonistic storylines in the hope that it would make his own life sexier.
  • Warren Ellis's comics often feature corrupt government officials, shamanism, cutting-edge technology (and humans enhanced by the same), and a protagonist who is at least two of the following: ill-tempered, British, a chain smoker, dressed mostly in white, or addicted to drugs or alcohol.
    • And "foul-mouthed and wearing a trenchcoat". "Atheist" is a pretty good possibility too.
    • Also, he really likes to do stories self-contained in one issue, usually in a series often connected only by the protagonist (Fell, his run on Moon Knight, Planetary). If he writes about larger group, he likes to break them into mini-teams (Global Frequency, most of his Stormwatch, his runs on Secret Avengers and DV8
  • Any character created, or heavily influenced, by Steve Ditko will be hated by the general populace. Because the masses are stupid, and the hero is morally (and, consequently, physically and mentally) superior to them. Furthermore, when he doesn't have a collaborator to hold him back, Ditko often has his characters say so in great detail.
  • Alan Moore will usually have older characters, who are retired or who have such a large body of work they might as well be retired. This is so they can discuss the good old days of their youth (and Moore's childhood) with nostalgic detail.
    • Bonus points if they have sex for no apparent reason. Particularly dark and gritty sex with a character much, much younger and hotter.
    • And Match Cuts.
    • Also, his major works tend to feature enlightenment through drug use - Ozymandias does it in Watchmen (he briefly mentions ingesting a ball of hashish in the desert), Eric Finch takes LSD in V for Vendetta (which gives him the insight he needs to get what V is doing), and From Hell ends with a massive opium trip, while The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has featured Allan's use of taduki leaves (from the original HR Haggard novels) in the bonus story of Volume 1 and Mina having an awful synthetic taduki trip/ psychic showdown with the Big Bad in Century: 1969.
    • There's also using the comic-book panel to tell layered stories. The comics will tell one narrative but accompanied with that is a text-based section at the back that builds backstory to the issue and the overall lore. This approach to World Building appears in Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Providence.
    • On the subject of dialogue, his characters tend to interrupt themselves mid-sentence. At first it might seem unusual, but then you realize that that's how people talk in real life. There's just not many other writers who use that particular realistic element.
    • In his book Writing for Comics he initially recommends writers developing a Signature Style, but in afterwords, written years after the essays, he says he changed his mind and now considers it a bane to any authors and suggest writing against the type to overcome it, before it grows on you, saying he might never be able overcome his own.
  • Jack Chick will usually have anyone who doesn't agree with him portrayed as working for Satan, or being Satan. He is also known for working in his message with all the subtlety of a sumo. Strangely, despite most of his comics taking place in 21st century America (or other first world country), people who are non-Christians are usually non-Christians out of ignorance or malice. In other words, most of of the non-Christians in his stories honestly never heard of Jesus or read any scripture, and are very easily swayed by the evangelists words, despite no arguments or evidence whatsoever.
    • The sad thing is, Jack Chick thinks this crap is realistic.
    • He also really likes to emphasize words in his characters' dialogue using a bold font.
    • HAW HAW HAW!!!
    • Dying will usually be accompanied with "YAAAAAAH!!". Even if it's a heart attack.
    • At the end of his works, Jack Chick would add up a step-by-step tutorial to 'accept Jesus in your heart'. Even on the comics that he worked on. (yes, he made some, not just tracts)
  • Simon Furman, who has, of all the dirty jobs, the position of writing approximately 85% or so of all Transformers comics since the mid-80s, has a number of "Furmanisms" that will inevitably crop up, hanging above the reader like some vast, predatory bird. You won't believe the things he can do with them: this constant shoehorning of odd phrases into the texts never ends, so what chance do we have of avoiding them? One would think he needs a short, sharp lesson in better writing, but the fans seem to enjoy his odd quirks, and he has reaped the whirlwind of popularity he's gained. He writes virtually everything with these "Furmanisms" and more; can we do any less? (A full list can be found at the Transformers Wiki.)
  • Fabian Nicieza tends to write long, intricately structured monologues enlivened with lots of dashes — and he also loves bisexuals, genderbending, and Ho Yay.
  • Jhonen Vasquez's works tend to lie far in the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, set in Crapsack Worlds where most of the populace are either Jerkasses or Too Dumb to Live. There's also a lot of references to tacos, piggies, bees, doom and other Inherently Funny Words, and he likes adding sci-fi elements like space ships or mech-suits even when the story probably doesn't really need them. Expect Nightmare Fuel, too. Lots and lots of Nightmare Fuel.
    • He also seems to love drawing mad eyes.
  • Mike Mignola's art style is immediately recognizable: the use of circluar and angular shapes (especially the way he draws people), and the way things are defined by large shadowed area more than anything else. His writing style/plotting tends to focus on both Lovecraftian themes, antiquity, and the like.
  • Face front, true believers, and feast your eager eyes on the sensational signature style of Stan "the Man" Lee! Smilin' Stan's words of wonder sizzle spectacularly with polysyllabic prose (that means "long words", for our friends at DC Comics) and applause-worthy alliteration. Whether a character is one of mighty Marvel's humanitarian heroes or venal villains, they emote so grandiosely, it's like simple ink and paper isn't enough to contain them! Yes, readers, the Marvel Universe is a World of Ham, baked to mouth-watering perfection whenever Stan seats himself before his fateful typewriter! Every inspirational ish is also breathlessly narrated, with caption boxes on every page and some of the most explosive promotional copy in history gracing each and every cover! And Stan himself acts just as bombastic as his own characters in his real-life appearances at conventions (and countless comedic cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, natch!), although rumor has it that may be a slight put-on (Subdued Stan? Truth is stranger than fiction, true believers). And although Stan's shameless self-promotion sometimes gains him a reputation for having an Awesome Ego (and I don't mean that evil planet, either), he's never above indulging in some good old-fashioned Heroic Self-Deprecation, just like his favorite co-creation, ol' Web-Head. Excelsior!
  • One of Jack Kirby's most distinguishing art features is the aptly-named Kirby Dots. Kirby's overall artistic style is perhaps more of an ur-style, being the style of Jack Kirby, distinctly recognizable to any fan of comic book art. He loved to create characters who embodied cosmic power if not outright godhood, a trait which seems to bear some relation to equally cosmic-looking hats. As an example, one of his most well-known characters is Galactus.
    • Kirby's other distinguishing feature is his character design. We love Kirby, yes we do, but a character he intends to be pretty/handsome will generally land somewhere in the Uncanny Valley, while a character he intends to be not particularly attractive will be hideous. He's also got a strong tendency to draw any character who's even slightly muscular as being built like an offensive lineman. Even if they're female.
  • Sergio Aragonés (Groo the Wanderer, MAD) is easily one of the most distinctive cartoonists/caricaturists around. His art style favors thin lines, swooping curves, and an eye-watering level of detail. His men tend to have spindly legs and flat feet, while his women are either fat matronly mothers or curvaceously thin waifs sporting bubble breasts.
  • Speaking of Mad, many of their artists and writers have a signature style:
    • John Caldwell is known for his wavy, scratchy lines that make everything look like it's in Squigglevision. Also, he is one of the few who usually does all of his writing and art himself, as opposed to collaborating.
    • Al Jaffee is fond of grossly overweight characters and people with very round faces. He also dabbles in the grotesque now and then.
    • Don Martin: Lots of Written Sound Effects, motion lines, and extremely gangly characters with huge noses and flat, floppy feet. He is also very fond of coakroaches, Groucho glasses and variations of The Frog Prince story.
    • Duck Edwing: Also somewhat of a "squigglevision" approach. Everyone has really huge noses.
    • Hermann Mejia: Set apart from the rest by often using paints instead of line art. His work tends to be very broad and blobby.
    • Richard Williams: Usually a painter, so his work had a retraux feel to it, particularly his covers.
    • James Warhola: Both a painter and an illustrator. His paintings also had a retraux feel, while his line work tended to be very stiff and scratchy.
    • Peter Kuper (who has done Spy vs. Spy since 1997): Everything has a very geometric look — lots of straight lines, very few curves. Typically colored in colored pencil instead of digitally.
    • Basil Wolverton: Everything is really thick and blobby; termed the "spaghetti and meatballs" style.note 
    • Tom Bunk: Extremely grotesque. Expect lots of snot, vomit, blood and guts, zits, obesity, etc. Especially if it's a one-page gag written by Michael Gallagher.
    • Paul Coker: Very loose and scratchy. Exemplified on Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, where he was an animator.
    • Jack Davis: Lots and lots of cross-hatching, usually with an "Old West" flavor.
    • Dick DeBartolo, as one of the top writers, is known for his zany deconstruction.
    • Arnie Kogen, one of the other main parody writers, tends to do the most overtly sexual and/or profane material. Expect lots of Symbol Swearing from him.
  • Similarly, Fred Hembeck has a distinctively cartoonish hand, with his signature technique of placing swirls in knees and elbows.
  • In a time where Disney's comic artists were uncredited, the quality in the stories of one Carl Barks stood out enormously from the rest of the pack, leading readers to nickname the then-anonymous author as "The Good Duck Artist".
    • Duckist Don Rosa. Not only is his style of drawing highly different from any other artist who draws Donald Duck comics, his stories are littered with funny background events, in-jokes, continuity porn and are always very well researched.
  • Marvel comics writer Brian Bendis has a Hatedom related to his style.
    • Typical Bendis dialogue will likely include fucktons of gratuitous swearing, repetitions, repetitions, Buffyspeak up the tuchas, even if it doesn't fit the character, and repetitions.
      • Repetitions?
      • Repetitions.
      • I don't know about repetitions.
      • How do you not know about repetitions?
    • Bendis also does this thing where his - his characters, they'll stutter fr- from time to time when talking for a long time. Whether it's realistic enough depends upon your- your personal opinion.
    • Also, he has a trend of absolutely trying to break his characters, especially female ones. Ultimate Spider-Man - Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy, Alias - Jessica Jones, New Avengers - Spider-Woman, All-New X-Men - Jean Grey, Uncanny X-Men - Magik.
  • Brian K. Vaughan's characters are all too often very well informed with a propensity of regurgitating tidbits of (admittedly relevant) trivia.
  • In his Lucky Luke stories, Rene Goscinny will often have people who have held a grudge, acted like dirty cowards, or like total jerks for the entire story suddenly come to their senses on the last 2-3 pages. Easy Evangelism is sometimes involved. If the story has a Road Trip Plot, there will usually be a traitor in the midst. If it takes place in a town, the Big Bad will sometimes establish his stronghold by forcing a local business owner, at the point of a gun, to "sell" him his business.
  • Mark Millar:
    • He has powers of ten show up a lot. Someone will be ten times smarter than someone else or something will be calculated to the tenth decimal point or will be miscalculated by misplacing the decimal.
    • He also had a tendency to use Nazis repeatedly in his works until someone called him out on it with The Ultimates. He hadn't even realized he was doing it.
    • When writing Ultimate X-Men, he would often have his characters pointing out obvious Plot Holes and Fridge Logic. It's unclear if he did this as a sort of Self-Deprecation, or as a way of apologizing for his own mistakes.
    • Also featured prominently in Ultimate X-Men, there's his tendency to have characters end dialogue snippets with mildly deprecating epithets aimed at other characters, fat boy. It doesn't really get distracting until you start realizing that every character does it, butt-wipe. Even when they're two mortal enemies having a terse conversation before trying to kill each other, spitball.
  • Garth Ennis dialogue features slang appropriate to the background of the characters using it (including profanity, especially Country Matters), Funetik Aksents, and frequent omission of relative pronouns.
  • Scott Snyder's a relatively new writer, but so far he's shown a real affinity for Animal Motifs (especially birds), architecture motifs, and fangs.
    • He also tends to have the main character of a story provided a childhood story that's thematically relevant through first person narration.
  • If you're reading a Batman comic and the title character has gigantic ears on his cowl, it's by Kelley Jones. His characters often have abnormal musculature, are just plain creepy. There is a reason he mostly does supernatural themed books.
  • Brian Azzarello is rather famous for his ability to sneak snarky wordplay and double entendres into fairly innocuous conversations between his characters (read any issue of 100 Bullets for examples), and to introduce violent moments into his stories without warning.
  • Rob Liefeld: Hugely muscular men and impossibly thin women, usually with the most exaggerated anatomy possible. Lots of ginormous guns, shoulder pads, and pouches.
    • His characters tend to have a ridiculous amount of detailed, almost sketchy linework all over their bodies with ultra messy hair. There's even a particular hairstyle, which Linkara lovingly named "carrot top", that is in all of his works. Even if a character has an established hairstyle, it will look like an edited version of this particular style.
  • Al Hartley used Stock Visual Metaphors and effects to an excess in Archie Comics, especially starstruck expressions and giant dust clouds. His characters also had a tendency to walk on air, and the title character was a frequent victim of Comedic Sociopathy. Though in retrospect, Hartley is probably best remembered for his recurring attempts to incorporate evangelism into the same comics.
  • Pat Mills has a thendency of introducing Non-Human Sidekick of his main protagonist who annoys people with their Catchphrase and then have them brutally murdered. Dictionary from Requiem Vampire Knight or Nemesis the Warlock's familiar (who don't as much says a catchphrase as makes narrator constantly remind readers he speaks gibberish) are two notable examples.
  • Jeremy Whitley's stories will often have a very clear pro-feminist agenda, empowering women of color in particular (even the villain can be an empowered woman of color in his stories, like The Promoter in his Thor vs. Hulk miniseries). The most common justification for this seems to be that he's inspired by his black wife and sister-in-law, and that he wants to create good role models for his young daughter.
  • Walt Simonson is well-known for cosmic-scale, mythology-inspired Epics and distinctive, angular art style. He shares the former (and many other writing/drawing quirks) with Jack Kirby, to the point that he’s widely considered one of the few writers to really get Kirby’s New Gods characters, whom many writers famously have difficulty writing.
  • Mark Waid has a tight writing style where characters often speak in hurried sentence fragments to emphasize action. He also tends to write notably hopeful and idealistic stories; on the occasions when he does darker stuff, though, he gets really dark.
  • Peter David is known for his Ensemble Casts, snarky humor, Continuity Porn, and self-admitted love for rescuing Scrappies and fleshing out lesser known characters.
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback