Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.
I didn’t read a comic book until well after college which is really weird because I read tebeos all the time growing up. Weirder still, comics and tebeos are the same thing but I never thought it was odd to have different reading material in different countries. See, I had two childhoods which existed independently of one another, something I didn’t realize until this past year.
In the US, I was a kid who rode bikes and went to movies and got hot lunch on pizza day. In Spain, I knew no children my own age, ate chocolate sandwiches for breakfast and spent long days talking to animals without another human in sight. In the former, I read books and MAD Magazine. In the latter, I read books and Zipi y Zape and Superlópez.
EN → comic book — comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. ORIGIN late 16th cent. Greek kōmikos, from kōmos [revel].
ES → tebeo — Revista infantil de historietas cuyo asunto se desarrolla en series de dibujos. [Children’s magazine wherein the stories are told through illustrations.] ORIGIN TBO, the name of a Spanish magazine founded in 1917.
FR → bande dessinée — histoire racontée par une série de dessins généralement accompagnés de textes. [A story told through a series of drawings, generally accompanied by text.] ORIGIN basic compound construction, drawn + strip.
→ Spanish wins today for being the most bonkers.
→ It’s interesting to me that bandes dessinées in France have always been culturally relevant and weren’t second class literary citizens like they were in the US for a long time. I think Watchmen (1987) ushered in the era of people talking about “graphic novels” which are things that grownups can read without shame. Here in France, that has never been the case and there is a lot of respect and demand for quality stories that are told in pictures.