CityFish uses tons of signs throughout the entire story. I’d say about half of the story is images. The text is not only accompanied by symbols, but surrounded by them. Maps are especially present throughout CityFish, which would count as icons because of their topological nature. Because so much of this story is about place and traveling between places, these add to the story by immersing us in the world and putting us in the shoes of someone traveling and checking a map for their location. The use of “You Are Here” symbols scattered around the story serve this purpose as well–they add to the feeling of navigation in a big world (and are a symbol because it takes reading or cultural knowledge to understand what it means). The thermometer index and Fahrenheit/Celsius converter also helps put us in the shoes of Lynne and her experiences in having to switch back and forth between the different measuring systems (and is an index because it is pointing to something else–the temperature outside and how people measure it). There are diagrams (icons) of roads, train and subway routes, spine conditions, how to use chopsticks, fish skeletons, and parts of a sink. These show us what the characters are seeing and absorbing, and where they are getting their information from. The diagram of the spinal condition that the protagonist sees impacts how she views her family’s postures.
The use of signs in this story reminds me of Scott McCloud’s aspect-to-aspect panel organization. The constant clutter of photographs, signs, maps, and diagrams helps establish the scenes that the characters are in. It feels like we as the audience are visiting these places and interpreting signs alongside Lynne and her family. It functions to help put the audience in the shoes of the characters.
I personally would like to try this in my own projects as well. It would be nice to not have to draw or find pictures of every single location my characters go, but instead provide important tone-setting visual signs to allow the audience into the scene. It may even function better in engaging the audience, since it leaves room for interpretation.