When I started drawing a comic strip, two of the most influential strips out there were “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County.” One of the more minor distinctions shared by these two innovative features was the abandonment of the traditional “speech balloon” for the style displayed in the strip above. Yes, I dabbled with this “new” look now and then, as in this strip from 1999. Drawing speech balloons is tedious and not at all easy as it appears. Still, I have stuck with the balloon, because it’s such an integral part of what a comic strip is to me. Sometimes, if the design seems to dictate, if a balloon seems unnecessary such as in a close-up talking-head shot, I will dispose of it.