Monday, 18 November 2013

Semiotic Analysis of 'Granpa'

The main signifiers in ‘Granpa’ are the two characters (a girl and a man), their physical appearance and the features of the setting. The girl wears a skirt and little white socks which suggests a young age. She also has very short hair and is very short compared with the male character, which signifies that she is a little girl. The man has a bald head and is taller than the girl, this would suggest he is older. His choice of clothes, such as slippers, tweed jacket and baker boy hat signify that he is an elderly man. The relationship between the man and girl suggests grandparent and grandchild, as they are always together on the page (as well as the title). The background graphics show the setting of the scene for each page. There are common objects that the audience would always recognise such as sandcastles, toys, newspapers etc, these objects and the setting signify the activity that is taking place on that page e.g. yellow sand with a pier in the background signify that they are on a beach.


One of the primary signifiers that sets the tone in the story are the facial expressions of the characters. Also, the background illustrations create a positive or negative tone. When the mood is positive and the little girl and her grandpa spend time together, the background is full of colour. This also seems to relate to the story of that page, with the child and her granpa playing, visiting different places, suggesting that their relationship is open and there is space for exploration. The framing of the pages full of colour, with the picture bleeding across the pages, could possibly reflect the child's curiousity, her freedom to play and discover new things with her granpa. However, the use of white space suggests the mood is negative , for example the page where the grandpa is unwell. The blank space surrounds him which seems clinical and bare and empty, perhaps representing loss. The empty armchair seems to be the primary signifier for creating a negative mood of the story. The emptiness of the chair and the white space is reflected in the little girl’s facial expression showing the emptiness she feels from losing her grandpa.
The hierarchy of the signifiers is clear that the characters are the focus as they are always placed at the forefront and at the centre of the picture. The characters come before the setting, as the images around them are there to set the scene. The hierarchy of signifiers conveys that it is the relationship and focus on the characters that is the aim of the story. The most significant positionality of the illustrations is the grandpa’s direction of sight as he is always looking towards the little girl. This highlights their relationship and its importance to the story. The characters always appear on the left hand side of the pae which shows their importance as the main characters, as well as he postionality of the setting and its objects vary from all around the two characters to the feet of the characters, with the two appearing much bigger than the objects around the. This seems to link to the type of activity that the grandpa and little girl are engaging in. When they are inside the house, the setting is minimalistic but the outdoor scenes are full of illustration. Also, this could be another message that the author and illustrator are trying to convey in that there is much more fun and adventure to be had outside with nature rather than staying inside.

As I have analysed above, the use of white space seems to show that the characters are inside and the scenes outside are shown through two page illustrations with colour and detail. The writing is always set within the picture itself. There is no particular frame around the pictures with gives a sense of freedom, perhaps conveying the adventures between the two characters. Sometimes the white space is filled with small uncoloured illustrations which just add small detail but do not distract the reader from the main illustration and story.


Only one page uses bleeding which is the garden scene; this is full of detail, colour and it represents fun with nature. The other pages of the story (the pages opposite to each other) show different parts of that scene either with writing, picture or both. The coloured pages show the activity of the story, whereas the black and white illustrations just add small detail to the setting of the story. This creates the whole scene with the main features in colour and a story to show, whereas background details in black and white are almost irrelevant. It seems they are just there for the sake of the child to understand the concept of what is taking place on the page.
The scale and size of the illustrations of the grandpa and the little girl on the first and second from last page are very large compared to other pages. The grandpa and his armchair are very large in the two specific pages, which creates the focus on him. Also, it could show the child’s perspective of her grandpa as a significant figure in her life. The fact that the grandpa is only large on these two pages shows us the start and end of the story and how he is the main focus in the little girl’s adventures even when he is gone, the chair is still there. The small details that are drawn could be for the reader’s interest and curiosity to see what they can spot amongst the detailed background. This could have been a predetermined activity for the children who would read this book.  


The title text on the front of the book is in bold capital letters in a large size. This highlights that the ‘GRANPA’ is going to be a main character to this story. Also, it is spelt incorrectly which suggests it is a young child’s story about her grandpa. The colour of the title and the front colour are bright, bold colours of yellow, blue and creams. This suggests that the story is a happy tale about the two characters on the front page. The yellow title ties in with the yellow sand for the beach scene. The style of the text changes when the voice of the writing changes, e.g. when the little girl is talking, the style of writing turns to italics. This gives a sense of questioning and playfulness, which conveys the little girl’s nature. Whereas, the straight normal font used for the grandpa’s voice suggests authority and strictness. For the last page, there is no text. This sets the sad, empty tone of the picture as the chair is empty and no words are needed to explain what is happening. Also, as it is a child’s book, it would be unnecessary to write the words death or grieving or anything upsetting.
The pictures are ever changing because the scene, activity and setting always change as the story goes on. The characters are always present in the pictures, however their clothing does change to show the different activity e.g. they were coats and hats when they are ice skating and less clothes when they are on the beach in the heat . There are certain illustrations where signifiers are added or taken away to change the mood of the story. The drawings of the medicine bottles that are added towards the end of the story signify that is something is wrong, whereas the disappearance of the drawing of the grandpa signify that he is no longer around, conveying death. It seems the use of colour is just to convey the norms of what colour different objects and places are. The children can recognise the pictures by the colours, if not by the drawings. The illustrations themselves look obviously hard drawn and messy which suggests the book is old, without the new technology of computers.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Inanimate Alice

Inanimate Alice

Inanimate Alice is a digital novel about a young girl named Alice and her adventures with her mother and father. The digital novel's text is accompanied by noise, animations and instructions for readers to move through the episode. The episode we watched was about Alice and her mother trying to find her father in the wilderness. We discussed the different elements of the digital story and how these elements conveyed meaning. The text throughout the story changes in length of sentences which creates pace, reflecting the action in the story. Also, the font it is written in is informal and resembles that of handwriting. The colours in the story change from light purples and whites when the mood is nostalgic and happy, to dark black and shady when the mood is dangerous and tense. This links to the animations itself, where the pictures are often displayed in split screen and as clips. This shows the different things that Alice is talking and thinking about at the time e.g. flowers from the wilderness as well as a picture of her friend. The noise at the start of the episode sounded like mobile phone interference and radios which set the scene for Alice and her mother using devices to find her father. This then turned into uplifting music when the mood was happy. However, the white noise came back towards the end, showing that the mood of the scene was changing to a negative feel. At the very end of episode, when there was resolution, the sounds changed back to the uplifting music again.