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September 24, 2009

Translations of a Wordless Book

Back in the day when I used to work in a cubicle almost a FULL ten feet away (my previous job was for :01's parent company Roaring Brook) I had the pleasure of sitting right next to one of my favorite things. The Bookcase of First Second Foreign Editions—something I love so much I feel the need to capitalize all of the letters of the words to describe it.

It's fascinating to see which covers stay and which get switched. Which logos undergo font-overhauls and which countries seem to think all of the text of a book should be stuck on the outside of as well as the inside. My personal favorite was ROBO UND HUND, the German edition of Sara Varon's classic, ROBOT DREAMS. Rough translation: ROBOT AND DOG with their new subtitle "Wahre Freundschaft Rostet Nicht" a.k.a. "True Friendship Does Not Rust." I was so smitten that my favorite translation widget and I spent almost two hours in an attempt to order it from a German website. Two hours well spent.

What I loved most about the German edition, and later on the French edition, was that it had been completely translated...despite the fact most people consider ROBOT DREAMS to be a wordless story.

American Edition of Robot Dreams German Edition of Robot Dreams French Edition of Robot Dreams

There is such beauty in the language of sound effects around the world. A "Gasp" becomes a startled German "Schluck" and a French "OOOH" of surprise. The "Shiver Shiver" of a snowman becomes "Bidder Bidder" in Berlin and "glagla glagla" in Grenoble. (Also can we stop and take a moment to appreciate that these are images of a snowman shivering. While he may be chilly, it warms my heart.)

American Edition of Robot Dreams German Edition of Robot Dreams French Edition of Robot Dreams

There are a few more examples on the First Second Flickr page, Including translations of my favorite panel and the panel that kills me every time. Reading ROBOT DREAMS in any language always makes me cry. Bunnies can be so cruel!

Robot Dreams Sara Varon's Wordless Book in Three Languages
(French, American, and German editions of ROBOT DREAMS, on top of a sneak peek of my messy desk and George O'Connor's ATHENA, my current design project.)


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