I try preeeeeetty hard to make my posts relatable and have as broad an appeal as possible, but this one? Ohohoho, she is just for me, citizens.
Yesterday I finished a run-up of Curse Words, the criminal enterprise/war on decency/gift to humanity by Charles Soule (various Star Wars titles, Eight Billion Genies, Undiscovered Country, Daredevil: Back In Black) and genuine art psychopath Ryan Brown (God Hates Astronauts, Bedlam, also Eight Billion Genies) about a wizard named Wizord who gets sent to earth with his familiar, a koala named Margaret, on a mission to murder every single one of us in the most brutal ways imaginable. But then: he discovers hot dogs, barbers, not being enslaved by an insane force of elemental hatred, and the magic of seeing Titanic on the big screen, and decides this place might just deserve not to be absolutely annihilated in an arcanonuclear firestorm. I recommend it without reservation, either in its issues, trades, or the recent single-volume omnibus.
One of the things I love most in any art is when the artists are very good at what they do, understand the rules very well, and use that combination to pull off ridiculous bullshit that shouldn’t work. In this particular instance, that means taking one of the clunkiest things about comics–how to visually and texturally express translation conventions and characters speaking different languages–and turn it into a running gag and extra goof-space that became a beloved trademark.
(For a really interesting conversation on this topic from industry insiders who work with translators and localizers, see what I’m pretty sure is this episode of Mangasplaining; even if I’m wrong about which episode it was, you still get to learn about a cool manga!)
During my read-through I collected every unique instance in the series, because collecting is fun and the capitalist brainworms demand I turn my every pleasure and pastime into something ~productive~. There are many examples in the book that use more brevity so as to not distract from the drama of the moment; despite what this nonsense would lead you to believe, there’re some sincerely heartbreaking and warming beats in this story, and there the translation is noted as simply and ‘From Quecha’ or ‘From Japanese’ or similar to minimize disruption, and I’ve omitted those both to keep the list from being overlong(er) and to avoid spoiling the context, which as I’ve noted tend to be more dramatic and less fart-joke.
(Obligatory reminder to subscribe to my once-monthly newsletter here, which rounds up everything I wrote in the preceding month, grants access to a curated members-only Spotify playlist, and includes a piece of exclusive bonus collectible content I will NEVER repost anywhere else, ever!)
That’s all! I hope you enjoyed and maybe wanna go read one of the stranger, funnier comics you’ll ever meet; this was a fun thing to do while binging Poker Face, which is incredible and which you should go watch immediately. Bye!
Flashes and phosphenes
It’s hard to believe that’s me
Strapped in and visibly sweating
As happy as I’m ever gonna be
2 thoughts on “Auld Langue Mystique: The Ballistic Omniglossia Of Curse Words”
“I SAY THEE, NEIGH!!!” <—-slayed me. I am dead. Deceased. No longer in existence in this mortal plane. I am no longer.
Jackie, Curse Words is…I lack the ability to describe, but suffice it to say it never met a pun whose pocket it wouldn’t pick; naturally, it regularly reduces me to a giggling maniac, for I am only as the Lort saw fit to make me
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