Thursday, August 28, 2008

No need for talk

In a recent blog post, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote:

As most of you know, I draw a comic featuring a guy who inexplicably has no mouth, who lives with a cartoon dog that inexplicably has no mouth. And I end up with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a condition that prevents me from speaking.

I'm reminded of an anecdote back at the time, thirty years ago, when I was writing a tourist guidebook about Great Britain. I asked for permission to use a comic strip [display] I'd seen in Paris-Match drawn by the French cartoonist Pat Mallet, who happens to be a few months younger than me. The authorization came by return mail, and the letter included a personal phone number. So I decided to phone up Pat Mallet to thank him. A friendly male voice told me it was a pleasure to collaborate in a book about the folk on the other side of the English Channel (known, in French, as La Manche).

ME: For months, I've been faced with the daily task of finding words to describe Great Britain. In the case of your comic strip, I'm terribly impressed by your skill in describing a typical aspect of London without using any words whatsoever.

VOICE AT THE OTHER END OF THE LINE: I must point out that you're not speaking with Pat Mallet himself. I'm his father, and I handle his phone calls. Pat himself has been totally deaf since the age of nine, and unable to communicate by speech.

I love this wordless cover from a Pat Mallet album of 1985, published by Glénat, called Ainsi est la vie (Such is life):

This marvelous drawing of a poetic dog admiring the sunset from the parapet of a luxurious seaside restaurant, while all the humans are lost in conversation, is a perfect illustration of the frivolity (at times) of speech. [And there I've gone again, adding unnecessary words.]

1 comment:

  1. Or as my mother sometimes likes to put it: "Every bugger talking, and not a sod listening."