Violence in the Funny Pages

  • Julian Wilder


Political humor is intrinsically tied to its mother culture because political jokes are built around a specific socio-political environment. So when the time comes to translate political humor, violence in translation is unavoidable because it is necessary to rewrite or at least modify the original joke or pun to make it work in the target language and culture. Violence in the translation of politically themed comic strips is heightened by the fact that in a strip a translator does not have to deal only with textual elements, but also has to work with and around graphical elements and must also deal with financial considerations such as the marketability of his translation. This paper will analyze how violence presents itself in the translation of comic strips using the Argentine strip Mafalda as a point of reference due to the fact that while politics and Argentine culture are important themes in many of its strips, Mafalda’s humor has been successfully translated to many languages in many different countries. Part of the analysis will also be dedicated to reflect on whether all types of violence occur for the same reasons and whether violence is always justified or if there are cases where external reasons force the translator to increase the violence of his work. Mafalda’s French translation will be used to provide examples of the various reasons for violence and the various techniques translators use when working within the limitations created by the comic strip medium.