Sep 7, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 3 - Brown Cheese Please, 2008


Part of my collecting habit is to occasionally find comics printed in the language of their origin. I like to see if I can follow the story without necessarily being able to follow the words. If, as we comics scholars are often wont to claim, a comic tells a story with both words and pictures, and those pictures are a language in and of themselves, a truly hybrid example of the medium should tell at least a partial story through the pictures. And, in that case, I should be able to understand at least half of the story.

Of course, it doesn't always work out that way. Then again, we have examples like Ms. Blake's musings on the people, culture, and landscape of Norway. The book is a Norwegian production. All of the indicia and metadata inside are in Norwegian, though I've managed to suss out that Ms. Blake is originally from Australia, but now lives (?) in Norway. As such, the text is a mixture of English and Norwegian. This opens up an interesting function for the book, that of education. The book is obviously supposed to be highlighting the quirks and peccadilloes of this country, but the use of terminologies and names in Norwegian also allows the book to instruct those it is entertaining. Philip Sidney said it centuries ago, that literature should instruct and delight, and Ms. Blake's eccentric illustrations, amusing poems, and parodic pokes (always leveled from a place of love) do both of those things.

That being the case, I have learned that "weegies" are a) very comfortable being naked, b) invented the "Ostehovel," a cheese slicer that "many seem to think has strange, mystic powers & the world will fall apart in its absence,"  and that "under no circumstances should a layer of bread [be placed atop a smorbrod]. Closed sandwiches are a rare phenomenon in Norway and anyone seen eating them will be instantly treated with suspicion."

As I've said, while she's poking fun at the habits of Norwegians, Ms. Blake obviously loves them too. And having a close friend who is from Norway, I have to say they're pretty lovable.

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