Art & Story 108 – The Big Acting

September 29, 2009 by Jerzy  
Filed under Art & Story, Podcast

[private]It’s a wombo-sized 2-hour episode where we discuss acting in comics with friend of the show, cartoonist Kim Holm!

An example of the acting found in Kim's work.

An example of the acting found in Kim's work.

We break our discussion into a theoretical segment followed by some practical strategies for finding the acting style most appropriate to your comic.


Show, Don’t Tell
In any storytelling medium, especially the visual ones, we have the ability to make an audience believe in the world we are constructing. That believability will be more sustained if we deliver emotion, tone, and other story data through the visuals. Don’t tell us that a character is angry, make us say that he/she is angry.

Thoughtful Acting Delivers Story Tone
More emphatic acting leads to a more “theatric” style of storytelling. Naturalistic or subtle acting leads to a more sophisticated or complex tone of story. Subdued acting can be used to create a sense of irony.

Types of Acting


  • Cartoon – Loud, exuberant acting usually used for comedic or theatrical effect.
    Examples: Manga, Aragones, Will Eisner




How to get the acting we want in our stories

  • Gesture
  • Facial Expression
  • Body Language
  • Type of Line
  • Artistic Effects (Use of color, stroke, iconic imagery)
  • Worldly Effects (Light-sourcing, using shadows, obstructing the view)

Questions of interest:

  • How do we decide what style of acting a story requires?
  • When can we break the style?
  • When can “not showing” be more effective than showing?
  • How do you build a “library” of emotional expressions, and charicatures?

Books mentioned in this episode:

The Art & Story Theme is written and performed by
Mike Gilmore & Mike Johnston of The Northwoods Improvisors.

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