Comic Translation Input

The following was posted on the Comics-Scholars list and I was hoping a few of you might be able to answer this gent’s questions for his thesis…

“I am currently preparing a thesis looking at comics in relation to translation theory, and I am particularly interested in the practical contexts in which comics translation takes place: the industrial environment that comics translators work in, the constraints they work under, the relationship with the work’s original authors, and so on.

So I’m looking to make contact with any people working in the field of comics translation: whether as translators themselves or as artists/authors whose work has been translated by others.

If this is you and you’d be happy to talk about your experiences (as briefly or as fully as you feel happy to) then please drop me a line…”

I’m not comfortable posting his contact information but I’ll send your contact info to the him, if you have anything to offer. It seems like an interesting project and worth knowing if there are typical obstacles to expect when having your comic translated.


  1. The Doctor

    If I’m reading it right, the most typical obstacles would be (a) differences in cultural references and taboos, (b) differences in what is considered funny or humorous, (c) cultural differences in humor, overall. Also, societal references probably wouldn’t translate well from one country to another.

  2. delos

    Those are important to think about, all right. What happens when the work is meant to be funny but the culture it’s being translated for doesn’t find the topic funny at all?

    The researcher is also wondering about the circumstances the translators work under.

    What freedoms do they have in translating? When English doesn’t have a single word for the kind of respect one owes an official government magistrate, what are they instructed to do? (For example.) Or perhaps in English one can just say “oh” when the original language took three panels to do the same.

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