Subtext in Characters: The Marcinelle School

Fist, let me explain what a subtext is.  Subtext is exactly what it sounds like-Something hidden beneath or behind the words.

It’s anything revealed by you and your characters without direct revelation.  Without overt disclosure.

The French is particularly good when it comes to comics.  They how to draw so the audience can see what is happening in the picture.  Without speaking a word. They also understand the line of action, body language, layout and the composition and they know how to draw them out and show it to the audience.


The BD I’m going to talk about is inspired by the Marcinelle/ Comic-Dynamic school of narrative illustration. The comic I’m going to use is Asterix the Gaul.


Here’s a good example out of the comic asterix the Gaul, where we can see what is going on. Here we can see that Asterix is proud of himself, with the way his arms are position and the smile on his face.

He is happy and not afraid of anything. And with Obelix where he says “Good Idea Asterix!” we see that his hand gesture is strong, so it doesn’t look boring if you look at him. We can also compare his hand gestor into real life. Where in real life if you talk you move your arms and hands.

In the next frame we see a pretty blond woman passing by, where Asterix line of action is straight, but it doesn’t feel stiff in anyway.  He lifts his cap greeting her, and doesn’t get distracted. Where Obelix in the other hand widens his eyes and looks at the blond woman like it’s the most exciting thing he watched all day.

In the 3rd picture Asterix line of action changes to a c shape where he’s still walking proud with his nose in the air, a smile on his face, hand and feet widely spread.  Obelix gets distracted looking at the pretty blond woman. His line of action is straight arms close to his body and not walking as wide as Asterix. Which can indicate he is a hundred percent focused on the Blond woman.



In the last picture Obelix is still looking at the Blond woman and not seeing what is in front of him, and walks straight into the tree.  We can see exactly what is happening without reading anything.


In the next example we see that the guards got scared of Astrix and ran away, we can see that by the dust, shields and weapons that was dropped, Astrix shouts (because we see his mouth is open wide and there are straight lines surrounding his head)

“Well, come on, Do Something I surrender! I can’t hang about all day! Which he clearly doesn’t mean it at all, he was being sarcastic. We can see that by the way he is standing proud, arms on his hips and eyes closed.




This is also a good example of a single picture that has a lot of words hidden inside.

Astrix is holding a guard’s beard and swinging him around in circles. What makes this picture so entertaining to watch is that it doesn’t look weird in any way like for example the guard’s arm bends and doesn’t show where his elbow is sitting and that the background is drawn slightly bended, which indicate that he is being swing around.

Astrix again doesn’t show a little remorse of fear. He smiles looking at the guard. We see that the other guard’s arms and back is bend forward because of shock.

They can’t believe that a tiny man is strong enough to swing a man half his size in the air while holding his beard. The old man just behind Astrix looks proud and also doesn’t show a little bit of concern what is happening, showing us that he knows Astrix is strong.





Here we read the slave says to the Cesar “There are some Gaul’s on the building site. Tree of them”. We see that the Cesar is concern and angry by looking at his body language.

He stands up, legs widely spread, hands on the chair, the lines around his body and we can see he is angry by looking at his facial expression. We know this is the Cesar by the why he is dressed.

White clothes leaves in his hair and red cape. The slave with his torn clothes looks afraid although we can’t see his facial expression, but we can indicate it by the way he is shacking, by looking at the slightly bent lines on his hands. If we take a look at his hand gesture we see that he is showing the direction of the Gaul’s and also warning the Cesar.

The line of action of the Cesar is straight which indicates his anger and concern of the three Gaul’s. Where the line of action on the slave is forming a c shape which shows a little bit of fear.



Subtext—Revelation of the Hidden