Americanisms in the Comic Book
Emily the Strange: "The Lost Issue"
Sanna Sillanmäki, 2007
FAST-US-1 (TRENPK2) Introduction to American English (Hopkins)
The FAST Area Studies Program
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere
"Emily the Strange" is a fictional comic book character created by Rob
Reger. Emily the Strange's story first started as bumper stickers and
t-shirts (What is). Quickly these products reached the public eye
and now Emily the Strange products and comic books are widely popular,
especially in the United States. There are also Emily the Strange products
on sale in Finland. Several of these have been translated into Finnish.
"The Lost Issue" is the second in the series of Emily the Strange
fantasy/horror comic books, written by Jessica Gruner, Rog Reger, Buffy
Visick and Brian Brooks. The illustration is by Buzz Parker. The Lost
Issue was published on December 14th, 2005 (Emily). The
publisher is Dark Horse Comics, Inc. The comic book was printed in the
U.S. (Gruner et al.).
The Lost Issue consists of seven stories: Lost-in-a-Vision, Lostco,
Lost City, Lost in Space, Scarytale Theater, Lost in the Woods and Lost
My Mind. There are also three short "stories" called Lost & Found,
The Lost Art of... and Beauty is Lost (Gruner et al.).
When I was reading the comic book for the first time I was really
puzzled. I had never read anything similar. But after having gotten used
to the strangeness of Emily I got the hang of it. Even the creator, Rob
Reger, admits that Emily the Strange is not for everybody. He also says
that he could not have predicted Emily's success and popularity,
especially since the concept of the comic runs counter to popular taste;
Emily does things that other people would never do (Life).
Nobody knows much about the comic book's main character except that she is
a strong character who believes is herself and who has integrity
(Life). Emily is a thirteen-year-old girl with long black hair. She
is famous for her black outfit and pale skin. She has four black cats that
follow her everywhere she goes. She is the antihero for the "Do it
Yourself" movement. Her favorite expression is "Get Lost" (Who).
Emily's Four Cats
- Mystery: Mystery is the leader and therefore closest to Emily.
She is an old-school cat. She was born on the 13th of May, but no one
knows which year. Her most distinguishing feature is a star-shaped eye and
a star in her collar (Mystery).
- Miles: Miles is a genius. He was born on the 13th of April
under a full moon. He is famous for being the fastest cat in town. He has
lost his right eye in a fight and has an X replacing it (Miles).
- Sabbath: Unlike Mystery, Sabbath is the new school kitty. He
was born on the third of December and is the youngest one of the pack. His
favorite word is "dude". Sabbath is good at finding trouble and in order
to prove that he has battle scar in his right ear (Sabbath).
- Nee Chee: Nee Chee is the pack's thinker and schemer. He was
born on the 25th of August. He is a nihilist and rarely looks anyone in
the eyes. He is a talented lock picker due to his six-toed paws. Nee Chee
is the only one who is not completely black: the end of his tail has white
stripes (Nee Chee).
References to American Culture in Emily the Strange
The comic book is full of references to American culture, as well as other
national cultures. There are references for example to people, movies and
literature. There are many references to British culture as well, for
example to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Sir Francis Bacon and Led
Zeppelin. There are also references to well-known fairy tales, for example
to Hansel and Gretel and Snow White.
- The Wonderful Blizzard of Ozz. Ozzy Osbourne's album that was
released in 1980 in England and 1981 in the United States. Although born
in England Osbourne nowadays lives in the United States (Ozzy).
Osbourne was referenced as follows:
"I am Ozzy the Great and Terrible... and I can't find the f**k!ing
"You're no wizard but you are The Prince of Darkness."
- John Cage. An American composer born in Los Angeles on the
5th of September 1912. He died in New York on the 12th of August 1992. He
was also a writer and a philosopher and had a great influence on the
musical world (Kozinn).
- Prince. An American musician who was born in Minneapolis on
the 7th of June 1958 as "Prince Rogers Nelson". (Prince).
- Metallica (an American heavy rock band)
- Black Flag (an American punk band)
- Oddisee (a half-Sudanese half-African-American rap artist and
record producer (Biography)
- In the "The Lost Art of..." Emily presents thirteen lost arts. The
11th one is drawing straws. There one of the cats says: "You got the
Creech." The Creech is a comic book series created by an American
author Greg Capullo (Creech).
- The Wizard of Oz. A classic American fairy tale; one of the
most-read children's books. There have been many sequels, movies and
television shows based on the book (Wizard).
- "Leggo my ego!". The original expression is "Leggo my
Eggo," which originated from an ad campaign for Eggo brand waffles. In
each commercial "character A" would attempt to steal "character B's" Eggo
brand waffles, forcing character B to yell out "Leggo my Eggo" to express
his disdain at character A's lack of respect and rude actions (Jerry).
The expression can be used when someone attempts to take anything of
personal importance from you, but will rarely succeed in helping you
retrieve your possession (Jerry).
- The Lost City. An American movie from 2005 directed by Andy
- Land of the Lost. Aelevision show by Sid and Marty Krofft.
The show aired from September 1974 to December 1976 (Land).
- Lost in Space. A 1960's science fiction/drama television
show (Lost in).
American English Vocabulary in Emily the Strange
- Lost & Found (SBE: Lost property)
- "I've lost my wallet, cell phone and keys!" (SBE:
mobile or mobile phone)
- "...and you'll need a cart!" (SBE: shopping
- "Gas powered carpet fluffers" (SBE: petrol)
- "Reusable diapers." (SBE: nappies)
- "Candied arugula." (SBE: rocket)
- "I saved $1.42!", "So that'll be $66.99."
Dollar is the unit of currency used in the United States.
- "Jeez, I need to chill out!"
Jeez is an interjection that is mainly used in American English. It is
used when one is very surprised or angry about something (MacMillan
- "That's it, I'm outta this place."
Outta is colloquial language and means out of.
- "Wicked! Someone lost their treasure map!"
Wicked is an informal way of saying something is really good.
- "I predict that tonight I'm gonna sail around the multiverse in
my solar sailer with 40 of my closest friends."
Gonna is colloquial language and means going to.
- "We gotta go!"
Gotta is colloquial language and means got to.
- "No thanks, I've got my Mary Janes."
"Mary Janes" are women's strapped shoes.
- "You're a lost cause, kid."
Kid is an informal way of referring to a child.
Yikes is an interjection that is used to express slight fear.
- "You can call me Auntie Emily."
Auntie is an informal way of referring to an Aunt.
- "You guys suck!"
The word suck is mainly used in American English and it means that
something or someone is bad or annoying (MacMillan 1435).
- "Ma'am? I lost my mommy and my puppy and my
Ma'am: An American expression used for talking politely to a
woman whose name one does not know (MacMillan 858).
Mommy: American English informal way of referring to mother
Blanky: Informal way of referring to a blanket.
- "Fargin' outdated maps!"
Fargin' is a mis-pronounced version of "fucking", from the movie
Johnny Dangerously (Bredos). Johnny Dangerously is an American comedy
directed by Amy Heckerling (Johnny).
American English Spellings in Emily the Strange
- "Frozen tires" (SBE: tyres)
- "Black licorice" (SBE: liquorice)
- "That's the color you should wear today." (SBE: colour)
- "Get lost in your favorite movie with a push of the button!"
American English Colloquial Phrases in Emily the Strange
- "Lost marbles, got enough."
If someone has lost their marbles, it means that they have gone mad.
- "Cat got your tongue?"
This phrase is used when someone is not speaking even if they are
expected to be.
Oddisee. Halftooth Records. Viewed 16 November 2007.
- Bredos. Fargin.
Urban Dictionary. 28 October 2006.
Creech. Spawn.com. Viewed 16 November 2007.
- Gruner, Jessica, Rog Reger, Buffy Visick, and Brian Brooks. The
Lost Issue. Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2005.
Emily the Strange #2: The Lost Issue. Darkhorse.com. Viewed 17
Leggo my Eggo. Urban Dictionary. 18 November 2004.
- Johnny Dangerously.
The Internet Movie Database. Viewed 16 November 2007.
- Kozinn, Allan.
John Cage, 79, a Minimalist Enchanted With Sound,
Dies. Nytimes.com, 13 August 1992.
- Land of the Lost
F.A.Q. Updated 31 July 2006.
is Strange and so is Emily. Darkhorse.com, 15 February 2006.
- The Lost City. The
Internet Movie Database. Viewed 16 November 2007.
in Space. TV.com. Viewed 16 November 2007.
- MacMillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. Oxford:
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2002. 768, 858, 917, 1435.
Miles. Viewed 17 November 2007.
Mystery. Viewed 17 November 2007.
Chee. Viewed 17 November 2007.
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Discography. Veinotte.com. Viewed 17 November 2007.
NNDB.com. Viewed 17 November 2007.
Sabbath. Viewed 17 November 2007.
- What is Cosmic
Debris.com? Viewed 17 November 2007.
- Who is
Emily? Viewed 17 November 2007.
- The Wizard of Oz: An
American Fairytale. Library of Congress, 30
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