This Week in Sound: Comics, Construction, Illusions

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the March 7, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

Si Spurrier and Matías Bergara have created a new comic book, Step by Bloody Step, that has no sound — no dialogue, and no sound effects. Spurrier, the series’ writer, makes the case that the absence of sound eliminates one of fantasy fiction’s crutches: “I think that the reader’s desire always gravitates towards detail. That’s why you end up with endless maps and encyclopedias and taxonomies and ancient histories, all of which don’t actually help you to tell the beating, throbbing, emotional heart of the story.” A lot of my favorite comics and graphic novels don’t use sound effects. (That said, some of my favorite comics have extraordinary sound effects, notably Michel Fiffe’s.) Dispensing also with dialogue entirely — not for a special standalone issue, but for the series as a whole — is next level, especially for a comic targeted at a popular audience. ➔ (Via Mike Rhode)

“Construction vehicles are equipped with new back-up alarm systems featuring multiple broadband frequencies, which replace the traditional ‘beep-beep’” — breaking municipal news from Montréal. ➔ (Thanks, Anne Bell)

Diana Deutsch, author of the book Musical Illusions and Phantom Words, is one of the subjects of the Unexplainable podcast episode on how sound becomes hearing, part of a six-episode Making Sense sequence. ➔ (Thanks, Alan Bland)

“Duvall Hecht, whose boredom at listening to music and news on the radio during his long daily commute in Southern California led him to start Books on Tape, which broadly commercialized the audiobook, died on Feb. 10 at his home in Costa Mesa, Calif.” And: “In 1975, Mr. Hecht was craving intellectual stimulation during his rush-hour commutes between his home in Newport Beach and his office in Los Angeles, where he worked in marketing for the investment banking firm Bateman Eichler, Hill Richards. At first he rested a reel-to-reel tape recorder on the seat beside him and played recordings of books that had been made for blind people.” ➔

Pranay Parab of Gizmodo came up with eight ways to make Siri less annoying, among then: changing when Siri shares spoken responses, disabling “Hey, Siri,” and stopping Apple from listening to your interactions with Siri. ➔

The Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast explores the “signature, soothing voice” of painter Bob

David Haskell is the author of the new book Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction. He spoke with KQED radio: “Haskell describes a global sonic landscape that’s threatened by human-induced habitat destruction and noise pollution and warns that by smothering the earth’s many voices, we’re not only imperiling species but losing our connection to the natural world.” ➔

“Underwater noise pollution is causing turtles to experience hearing loss that can last from minutes to days” — per Andria Salas, researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts. ➔

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