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Silent Storytelling: Communicating Without Words

Some of the most impactful storytelling, spanning languages and cultures, is silent. Read on to learn about how points of view and visual language engages global audiences.

Visual scribing takes many cues from the sequential storytelling found in comic books.  So much so that several scribes in our network are also professional graphic novel and comic book illustrators.  Although a mix of words and images, the art in comics has to be able to tell a story in isolation.

Matt Fraction, the writer of Marvel’s acclaimed Hawkeye comic, proved this, crafting an issue from the point of view of a dog that allowed artistic collaborator David Aja's visuals to carry the story.  The issue stretched the conventions of the medium, using every trick at its disposal to tell a story with minimal words that fed into a larger narrative/story arc.

Check out these preview pages:

Pages from Hawkeye #11, illustrated by David Aja, courtesy of Marvel.

In 2001, Marvel ran Nuff Said month, challenging the creative teams of their ongoing titles to write “silent” issues sans dialogue.  The Nuff Said issues chronicled major turning points in these characters lives.  The issue of Amazing Spider-Man that came out during this month detailed the fallout of Peter Parker’s Aunt May learning his secret identity.

“Silent” storytelling isn’t unique to comics.  Film began as a silent medium.  The most well know star during this era was Charlie Chaplin. 

Television is a notoriously dialogue-driven medium, relying on it to convey exposition and drive the story forward in lieu of big budgets.  In recent years, a number of series have embraced the challenge of crafting episodes with little dialogue. 

Among the most successful was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Hush,” which aired in 1999.  In this episode, fairytale monsters the Gentlemen stole voices from the population of Sunnydale, California.  Writer and director Joss Whedon wrote “Hush” to illustrate that “when people stop talking, they start communicating.”

And for another example of how effective “silent” storytelling can be, check out the showreel for our film services: 

To learn more about “silent” storytelling in pop culture, check out this entry at TV Tropes

Whether it's creating a storyboard, sketching an idea or producing a film, Ludic Creatives' bevy of silent storytelling techniques can help you engage audiences that span cultures and languages.  Email us for more informaiton.


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