Except from the fact that Asterix has inspired my interest in history (both taught AND confused my knowledge on history…) and that it is a good read, Asterix has had a big influence on my design profession. Even though I’m not an illustrator, the design of communication in Asterix has influenced what I do now; a PhD in the intersection of visual communication, interaction design and social media.
The creators of Asterix were known for sending the translators in other countries a long list of how to translate all the word plays and cultural knowledge hidden in the french language, such as historic references, references to films, french celebrities and more. It is interesting because Asterix became a huge fenomenon in the world, not just in France, even though it was a very french comic - you need to read a lot about each Asterix comic to understand all the intertextual references there - but it’s still enjoyable without knowing them all. Though, what I study is the visual stuff, and I think this image is a really good manifestation of all the levels graphics and typography can play at in one image.
I find that the design of social interfaces has so far been little influenced by the design of communication (mostly done by illustrators and graphic designers), and I’m curious about why we don’t see more of this type of communicative approaches online. It seems to me that functional aspects always outshines cultural and communicative aspects.
This image communicates and creates meaning (shows Asterix' sarcasm and tone-of-voice towards the sleeping man) through at least four levels:
1) the context (by reading the whole story you will know that this man does not appreciate Asterix and Obelix)
2) the wordily content (“Garedunord, it is us”)
3) the evil facial expressions of Asterix and Obelix suggesting irony and malice
4) the speech bubble flowers indicating waking the sleeping man up in an overly not-so-nice way.
The wordily content alone would not have made us realized the meaning of sarcasm, but in combination with the others - stuff we know as means for showing sarcasm in the real world, it guides our reading of the image.
Though, someone else could have interpreted this differently…? How we read the communicational aspects can vary from person to person, culture to culture. I base my readings of images on a social semiotic framwork, theories that help me analyze graphics and typography as resources for producing meanings.
Other images with typographic and graphic choices that shapes meaning: