Text Box

A text box is a rectangular widget that includes text, or words forming meaning, inside the figure. The actual shape of the enclosing figure can vary in different forms.  Below, in the picture from The X-Men, we see a standard rectangle being used. This style is used by many and in this case serves for narration of the story. Below that, we see a text box used in a 2011 issue of Catwoman. The text is bordered by a figure that is not a structured rectangle. Here we see that the border and color used for the text box can create a different tone for the comic. The red border, black background and white text create a dangerous and edgy tone for the narration. Where in the first text box a sense of seriousness is created, in the second image the border creates a more edgy and dangerous tone.

Lee, Stan and Jack Kirby. The X-Men #1 (Sep. 1963), Canam Publishers [Marvel Comics]. Print.
Professor Xavier, leader of a group of super-powered mutants is sending telepathic messages to his mutants. The text box allows for narration of what is happening while the professor sends messages. Image Source: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The X-Men #1 (Sep. 1963), Canam Publishers [Marvel Comics]. 
Figure 2. The color, border and background color of the text box evoke an edgy and dangerous feeling to the narration. Image Source: Judd Winick. (2011). Catwoman #01.

Text boxes can be used for a series of things like narration, descriptions, setting the scene or at times to convey character’s thoughts or emotions. This allows comics to step away from being solely a dialogue between characters. Here we see an example from the fourth issue of Hawkeye and how the text box is used.

The text box allows for a longer description to set the scene. Image Source: Matt Fraction. (2013) The Tape Part .2 “Operation Eucritta”. Hawkeye #4 (February).

Here, the text box serves the purpose of giving the reader more information about a major building in the comic. This allows the comic to give information about the scene without having a character describe the information about the hotel, which would not fit as well in natural dialogue. Here, the text box sets the scene for the Madripool Pearl a luxury hotel with 3000 rooms. This is where the auction for a video in which Hawkaye commits an assassination will take place. The text box allows the reader to know the magnitude and luxury of the hotel and understand what kind of people would attend the auction.

The text box gives comic book writers an opportunity to provide information that would not fit in the natural dialogue of the plot. The text box does not have to be limited to the confines of a straight border. The style of the aesthetic of the box can vary and create different tones to the comic as a whole.





(2008). Graphic Novel/Comics Terms and Concepts. Web. Read Write Think. Retrieved from http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson1102/terms.pdf