Do you really need a thousand-page tome to understand the narrative arc of Bruce Lee? Or six movies to get the essence of Darth Vader? The Milan-based advertising and graphic design studio H-57 doesn’t think so.
In fact, they’ve figured out a way to get to the essentials of, say, the life of Julius Caesar with only two words: “Ave Brutus,” which, turns out, is all you really need to know. “Typodesign Strips,” the studio’s collaboration with the culture website First Floor Under, are a collection of whimsical, non-comprehensive, and somewhat revisionist posters that outline the basic life stories of people like Marie Antoinette, Jesus, and Adolf Hitler, in pictograms.
The posters are studies in economy, using the international “male” and “female” icons, and each “life” hinges on four moments. Some are hilariously simple: “The History of Michael Jackson” merely depicts the figure becoming lighter shades until completely white and, at the end, horizontal. For more complicated histories, certain stages will be elaborated on in vertical space. In some cases, the number “3” (raised to the third power) represents larger quantities–soldiers, spaceships, or repeated actions. (Nuanced, these are not.)
Most of the stories end in death, which H-57 tries use to comedic effect. “The easiest stories are those with a tragic and/or violent ending,” Gianmarco Milesi, creative director of H-57, told Co.Design. “Quiet, normal lives, even if belonging to very important people, are less easily (and less funnily) turned into infographics language.” Case in point: the most recent poster tells the history of Napoleon. And up next? Dracula.