Over the course of his life, Roald Dahl created a range of captivating novels that have not only resonated, but stayed with his audience. A career spanning 48 books of literature and poetry along with 12 film adaptations have contributed to Roald’s legacy which has greatly influenced the creative industries, from the illustrations of Quentin Blake to directorial interpretations by Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg and Danny DeVito.
Today would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. To celebrate, a wealth of activities and events will take place, with schools across the country running Dahl-themes dressing-up days, Morrisons selling Snozzcumbers — the wonky cucumbers for giants that feature in The BFG — and the Oxford English Dictionary publishing new and revised entries of Gobblefunk, the lexicon born from Roald Dahl’s vivid imagination which spans 500 brilliantly alternative words. In a celebration of our own, It’s Nice That asked a group of creatives to interpret their favoured Gobblefunk word with gloriumptious and whoopsy waffling results.
For designer Peter Judson it was Trogglehumper that caught his illustrative, shapely eye. A term purposefully created to describe “an absolutely frightful dream”, Trogglehumper was constructed in The BFG to describe the discoveries of Sophie and the friendly giant whilst catching dreams to blow into children’s bedrooms.
It was the mysterious tone of voice often lurking beneath Roald Dahl’s literature that appealed to Peter. “I always loved the dark and ugly undertones in his stories. They always felt like Trogglehumpers…” he explains. The contrast of Peter’s flowing letterform style mixing brightly coloured tones and sprightly shapes with jagged typography gives new perspective. “I wanted to give the type a mechanical yet fluid flow going from brighter happier colours that move into an awkward darkness playing with the unpredictability of dreams and nightmares,” he says.
Graphic designer and illustrator Mariano Pascual used his ability to reform typography in his curvy, lively, and in Roald-speak, “jumbly” (all mixed up) style. Mariano chose to portray the word “lixivate”, the process of “being turned into liquid and being squashed at the same time”, a description is used by Grandma Georgina in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator to describe Grandma Georgina’s cautiousness of Mr.Wonka and his contraptions.
Mariano’s use of pastel and primary colours is reminiscent of the phizz-whizzing (brilliant) delights Mr.Wonka produced. The designer’s flowing lines gloop over the word, appearing like the effects of an everlasting gobstopper full of crodscollop (an absolutely great flavour!).
Graphic design and risograph print studio 12—B also chose a word from their favourite Roald Dahl novel, The BFG . “Human beans” is a phrase used by the Big Friendly Giant himself in his nonsensical but charming ramblings. As the only giant who doesn’t eat children, preferring the taste of snozzcumber instead, he refers to human beings as “human beans”, an example of Roald’s darkly ironic sense of humour.
For their execution of the word, the studio took a quote from the text, replacing “human beans” with circular patterns displaying the amusing qualities of Roald’s desciption. By choosing one of the most familiar terms of Gobblefunk, Josh and Will have created a piece that is descriptive without direct reference. “With fond memories reading and chuckling away to the BFG calling us ‘human beans’, it only felt right to choose this phrase. Let us not forget that most Giants will happily eat us, right or left?”
Illustrator and graphic designer Benedikt Luft applied his ability to add characteristics to objects by illustrating time-twiddler, directly translating as “something that is immortal”. The term is used again within The BFG to describe the immortality of the giants: “Giants is never dying,’ the BFG answered. ‘Sometimes and quite suddenly, a giant is disappearing and nobody is ever knowing where he goes to. But mostly us giants is simply going on and on like whiffsy time-twiddlers.’”
Benedikt interpretation of an apple intercepted with worms to exhibit a life-cycle but with illustrative disposition he adds the personable and humorous context of Roald Dahl’s literature.
Our Place: Muggled
For graphic design studio Our Place it was “muggled”, the feeling of “being confused” that they chose to apply their knowledge of structure and layout to.
The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary defines “muggled” as “a mess or a muddle”, a translation elucidated by the studio in a pattern where it is difficult to see either a start or finishing point. Ultimately it is their jarring colour combinations that represent the word fully, making the piece “more confusing to look at, which is pretty much the idea.”
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.