Piero Ventura has produced a number of books based around the world, for example his “Book of Cities” In this I felt he saw the similarities, rather than the differences between cultures. The buildings and styles are different but the little people, although in different costumes are all very human.

As a child, I loved my brother’s Asterix books. They are comic books written and illustrated by the two French writers Goscinny and Uderzo. The heroes, Asterix and Obelisk are great travellers and many of the jokes are based on making fun of cultural stereotypes. This has sometimes led to complaints (although I believe that Herge’s Adventures of TinTin are considered much worse). I remember reading Asterix in Britain and feeling slightly disconcerted. Up till then I had completely identified with the Gauls. It was a surprise to see my own nation portrayed as something “other”. (I have had a similar experience watching an Indian film which portrayed a western family as subsidiary characters).

In Asterix in Britain they make jokes about drinking tea, warm beer, strange opening times, eating boiled food with mint sauce. The authors describe the British character as brave, phlegmatic and having a stiff upper lip. They also make a lot of jokes about rugby, cricket, the weekend, the weather and British gardens.

I looked for contemporary travel illustrators on line. I found that there are a lot of nostalgic images, harking back to more golden ages of travel, such as the 1950’s when air travel was glamorous. I found a very different take on cities by a graphic designer David Popov.


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