02 October 2013

It’s All Dutch to Me

One of the most interesting mini-comics I picked up at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo this weekend was Daniel Pucca’s My Dutch Foreskin, published through the A28 Press cooperative.

This story starts with the author on his first day at a new school—in the Netherlands. As an American kid, he struggles to make himself understood, even with a dictionary.

The action then jumps ahead a couple of years to the day when Daniel and his Dutch friends are sent home with a note to parents saying there will soon be health exams. That letter contains a Dutch word our hero doesn’t know. He looks it up, and finds that it’s the equivalent of an English word that he doesn’t know, either. Another pile of books later, and Daniel learns what a “foreskin” is.

Given that theme of communication barriers, Pucca made a fine choice to have his characters’ Dutch dialogue printed in Dutch. But printed below those bright red letters are English translations in a pale blue (not visible in the image above). The comic comes with a translucent plastic red film in a tulip-shaped holder. Place that over the Dutch word balloons, and the red lettering fades while the blue lettering becomes darker and easily legible.

One can also puzzle out the English just by careful observation, preserving the tulip-shaped translator in pristine form. Either way, Pucca has found a nifty visual way to recreate his childhood experience with language barriers. My Dutch Foreskin must have cost a bundle to print and assemble, but it’s a fine mini at a good price.

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