One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

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One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby chirechan » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:51 am

Normally, it's pretty obvious when two bubbles are connected, but separate:


But lately I've been running into bubbles that aren't as clear. In this example, the text is like a normal block of text, but it's inside double bubbles:


The purist in me says to treat these as split bubbles and make two separate text boxes, but the text blocks will be tall and thin with lots of hyphens in strange places. UGLY. The typeset will be much more attractive and LEGIBLE if I treat these as single bubbles, but my heart of hearts knows they aren't.

Has anyone else had bubbles like this, and what did you decide to do? After listening to the last video conference, I'm leaning towards legibility at the cost of authenticity... I guess I could redraw the bubble outline to appear like a single that matches the text, but is that cheating?
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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby hanged_man » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:34 pm

I don't think that's cheating at all, sometimes you have to get creative with what you're given. I will say, however, that I think the deciding factor should be what's actually in the bubble. If it's clear it has two separate thoughts or is a sentence that can easily be broken with punctuation (comma, ellipses, &c.) then you should respect the division. If it the thoughts aren't distinct or are awkward to break up, I think that's when you should consider combining them. It's sort of a competition between what reads well and what looks nice. When you can get both, that's ideal.
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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby jhitchin » Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:12 pm

This comes up all the time in text-heavy manga such as Metantei Conan, Godhand Teru and Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo. What Viz and Tokyopop did was to treat two connected bubbles as a single bubble and combine the two strings of text as one. Yes, that's not how it was in Japanese, but when you go from a vertical written language to horizontal, you have to make some allowances for this kind of thing. Even though I'm a purist, too, I go with ease of readability over 100% authenticity.

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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby HiroPon » Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:24 am

Great point, Jeff!

Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby Arakis » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:28 am

When I first read the opening post, the images weren't loading so I didn't know what manga it was referencing. In the back of my mind, I was thinking "Lots of ambiguous double-bubbles? Sounds a lot like Backlight..." Go figure. I found that bubble structure difficult to deal with as I translated it, too. I think sometimes I treated them as two bubbles and sometimes as one. It depended mostly on the nature of the dialogue and whether it seemed to work better as a continuous stream or split. So I'm no typesetter, but I'd say handle it similarly -- on a case by case basis.
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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby chirechan » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:03 pm

Thanks for the good advice, everyone! I feel more comfortable using a single block of text knowing that there's precedence, too.

@Arakis - Great job with the script! You've made my job easy :)
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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby ZepysGirl » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:41 pm

I don't think this has come up very much for me. I know, in one case, I actually drew more of a separation between the combined bubbles, because one of my group members said it was hard to read. Other than that, I just format it how my translators give it to me. ^_^; If it looks like one chunk of text in the Japanese, like in your second example, then I have no problems putting it in as a chunk of text in English.
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Re: One bubble or two? Legibility vs authenticity

Postby Cavechan » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:49 pm

I've had this come up and both legibility and authenticity are extremely important. I would make the text into the one bubble and simply place it in the center as much as possible. No reason to erase anything and make it look like it was supposed to be one bubble.

I can't see your example pictures, but for my project there were many instances of a line starting in one part of the bubble and ending in another. For this, I just broke up the line accordingly. For example:

First part of bubble: I
Second part: love you.

It's still seen as one line despite being separate because of the wonderful law of continuity. ....or continuation... *not an editor for a reason*

Of course, there's also the issue of having teeny, tiny text when a long horizontal English word isn't fitting into the very vertical and narrow bubble. A lot of people (mostly in scanlations or early released volumes) will "stack" the text. The only time stacking text is acceptable is for a sign with one, maybe two, words. Such as "OPEN" or "STORE NAME". Dialogue shouldn't be done this way (I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, so I don't want to say anything definite. :P)

To deal with this, just *grumble* hyphenate and put a white stroke. Yeah, I hate hyphenating. lol But hyphenating is acceptable and much more legible than stacking text.
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