Whoa! To be honest, I’d never even thought of using a closed mouth between balloons to indicate a pause. (Usually I use some combo of ellipse and balloon spacing, or just drawing entirely separate panels.) That’s a pretty cool take, and now I want to see if I can attempt it :D
I made a thing about mouth movement/position in comics (it’s got homestucks in it, sorry)
Click here for high res.
Very good notes! Always think about using the whole face to really sell a character’s emotions.
There are exceptions, and some artists do get away with close mouths on their characters during dialogs. I’m looking at you, Naoki Urasawa (and you do it so beautifully too <3 ).
I used to be adamant that a character’s mouth should not be drawn closed if they are speaking.
But then I realized that like everything else, ignoring something that could be useful just because you want to be rigid is stupid.
I do speech with with closed mouths commonly, I did so in the last chapter of my comic:
I chose to close the mouth because it emphasizes the pause between the two speech bubbles. In many cases illustrating a closed mouth after a bubble is a good way to emphasize a pause.
Your readers aren’t stupid (well mine aren’t anyway) - they’re not going to sit here and go “whoooaaaa - how is he speaking with his mouth closed!?”
On occasion - such as with Urasawa - the artist may just decide that the character’s expression is more important than maintaining the illusion that the speech bubble is mechanically tied to the illustrated movement of the character’s lips.
If it works it works.