When drawing your characters, it's a good idea to always have basic anatomy and proportions in mind. It doesn't have to be perfect 7.5 head tall characters, but even the most cartoony style benefits from having a foundation in realistic anatomy.This blog post by Stu Livingston
shows some examples from his "Life Drawing for Animation" class at CalArts. If you look at the examples, you will see how none of them are a "realistic" style, and yet the little anatomical details like a tapering arm or a little crescent representing a knee gives the character a little more complete feeling.
A good book to get is the previously recommended
Character Mentor by Tom Bancroft, which has good examples of cartoony anatomy and how you can use it to define your character.Accents
Accents are already tricky in literary work and even more so in sequential art. You want to give the reader an idea of how the character sounds, but it can quickly cross into absurd, stereotypical speech, it also can interrupt the flow of reading.A good "bad" example is Banshee
from old X-Men comics. All the dropped letters and phonetically spelled words make the reader stumble through the dialogue. Sure, you get the sense that Banshee is Irish and Rogue is from the Southern US, but there are better ways to portray this.
This blog post, Ten Tips on Writing Characters with Accents
, is for novel writing but the advice can be applied to dialogue writing in sequential art also.
The biggest thing is to avoid writing accents phonetically. In the Rogue example above, every instance she says "I" is replaced with "Ah". This is unnecessary and when they start with the contractions like "Ah'm" is just gets confusing. The occasional "y'all" and maybe dropping off the g in "ing" would convey just as well that she has an accent, rather than respelling every other word.
Especially take care if your character is a foreign speaker of English. Maybe French and German speakers tend to turn "th" sounds into "z" sounds, or East Asian speakers aren't used to the R/L difference, but writing out the dialogue of these characters phonetically will almost always send the writing into stereotypical and probably offensive territory. If the other characters understand the character with the accent, just write the words as they are spelled.
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