Swalloops are classified as an illustration technique and are popular to use within the comic book industry. The term is associated with the curved or straight lines that precede a character’s motion. These lines are typically used to emphasize a character’s speedy or powerful movement. An easy example of swalloops are the lines seen behind a character running to indicate their direction of motion.
Swalloops were first defined by credible comic book artist Mort Walker in his 1980 book of comic terminology, The Lexicon of Comicana. The use of swalloops in comic books is very common especially in action and superhero stories.
The first image shows a character from the comic book Chakra the Invincible being flicked by a giant hand. The use of the swalloops illustrated next to the smaller character help the reader determine that he is moving away from the giant hand rather than towards it. The fact that the swalloops are straight also indicate that the character is moving in a straight line horizontally.
The second image is a panel from the comic Guardians Galaxy. The swalloops are illustrated as the yellow and black curved lines located in the upper-left area of the panel. The lines are used to show the direction and fast movement of the character’s fist as they smash the device.
This third image from the Squadron Supreme comic book displays a superhero dashing across the panel. The swalloops are represented as the yellow and black straight lines between the character. A great amount of swalloops are illustrated to show the reader how fast the character is running. The length of the swalloops also indicate the distance the character is covering. Unlike the other two examples, this panel shows longer lines near the head and feet of the character to signify a lengthy distance.
Walker, M. (1980). The Lexicon of Comicana. Port Chester: N.Y.:Museum of Cartoon Art.