Emanata & !#@?$%!

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“What is “Emanta”? And were you cursing?!”

No, those are Grawlixes, and think emoticons.

Emanata and Grawlixes are symbolic icons. They are just two names for a few examples, of a wide array of symbolic little cartoon elements and various other parts of comics, described thoroughly in the satirical but also utterly functional Lexicon of Comicana by Mort Walker! As well as mentioned in most decent texts since.


Matt Madden, 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Web. 2 Oct 2012.

Emanata are typically found close to the head of characters, and used in comics to describe feelings, states of mind, thoughts? Or even editorial commentary on the part of the author sometimes! 😉

Here below are a few examples from Mort Walker out of the book. They bring a lot of utility in quick expression, and let the artists off the hook just a little when it comes to capturing mood with pantomime and acting.

Posted here as well is this is a really nice simple example given of a few from DW-WP!

Matt Madden did one of his ‘99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style‘ comics too!

Emanata by Abba Studios aka Howard Simpson.

And this one is by Howard Simpson!  He also listed some of them in a post here! That probably gives you a good idea, but note there is a lot of room for invention here. Fill a sketchbook page or two inventing some of your own!

Grawlix are typographical symbols like @#$%&! used in cartoons and comic strips to represent swear words. Plural: grawlixes. Also known I read as jarns, nittles, and obscenicons? Ok. This one is all new to me! Grawlixes are described as usually appearing in ‘maledicta balloons‘.  It’s fun learning their are already names for things you’ve used for years! 🙂

Both can be found in The Lexicon of Comicana (1980) by Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey! Done for fun it’s reputedly an indispensable little text.