Indotherm: Careful, It’s Hot!

Indotherm is a form of emanata that is related to the heat of an object.

Because the color between the lines above his coffee is different from Hawkeye's shirt, this indotherm represents steam. Image source: Fraction, M., & Aja, D. (2013). Hawkeye #8. New York, N.Y.: Marvel Worldwide.
Figure 1. Because the color between the lines above his coffee is different from Hawkeye’s shirt, this indotherm represents steam. Image source: Fraction, M., & Aja, D. (2013). Hawkeye #8. New York, N.Y.: Marvel Worldwide.

Indotherm is itself an icon that represents heat. For example, in this panel of Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja, the lines rising out of the coffee cup are meant to signify that the coffee is hot (Figure 1). Indotherm can be made to look like steam, or it can simply be a few lines drawn above an image to represent the heat from that item.

The Lexicon of Comicana was the first book to use the term “indotherm.” Written by Mort Walker, the creator of the famous newspaper comic Beetle Bailey, this book served as a central hub for the variety of techniques and tools that cartoonists used in their work.

Although many of the terms were fabricated by Walker himself, they gradually gained support from the industry as ways to identify specific illustrative and creative techniques. In his article Quimps, Plewds, and Graqlixes: The Secret Language of Comic Strips, author John Brownlee identified that The Lexicon of Comicana became so widespread that it developed into a “treatise explaining why the funnies matter.”

coffee
Figure 2. By adding one additional line, a new property is given to the object in this panel. Image source: Walker, M. (1980). The Lexicon of Comicana. Port Chester, N.Y.: Museum of Cartoon Art

In The Lexicon of Comicana, indotherm is depicted in its other form: as markings that rise from a heated object (Figure 2). The picture shows how in this case, all it takes is one extra line to indicate that the mug of coffee is hot.

Indotherm is used by comic book illustrators as a way to express heat. Because comics are such a visual medium, using lines to define how hot an object is can provide additional information to the reader in a way that would otherwise be impossible. Indotherm takes objects and gives them properties like heat or steam so that this information can be passed to the reader in a form consistent with the medium and the reader’s expectations.

 

REFERENCES

Walker, M. (1980). The Lexicon of Comicana. Port Chester, N.Y.: Museum of Cartoon Art.

Brownlee, J. (2013, July 15). Quimps, Plewds, And Grawlixes: The Secret Language Of Comic Strips. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1673017/quimps-plewds-and-grawlixes-the-secret-language-of-comic-strips

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