Comic Translation


Until reading this article below, I had never thought about comic translation, I admit. Although the text is pretty short, it takes a quite long time. The sizes of text bubbles are defined by the one who draws the comics. Moreover, the same effect should be created with the exact word choice. Here is a very good article about comic translation. I have also found a very good comment to this article. I will publish them one by one because they are pretty long:


“The comic is available under a Creative Commons license that allows you to also translate the comic into your language. Examples of French, Portuguese, and Italian versions of the comics are already available. Perusing the translated examples, and the “translation kit” sources it became clear that whereas the text on the cover, in speech bubbles, and in a few other places, is easily translated, other text (such as the names of creators and their work) is not, and the comics characters and their interactions themselves remain constant across all language versions.

So a number of questions arise for all aspiring comic creators:

  • What is the best (in terms of ease or process compliance) translatable source? For example, are PhotoShop layered files (PSDs) the way to go? How about JPEGs? or XML?
  • What translatability considerations have been made in the source content? For example, can the speech bubbles be resized to cater for text expansion, or contraction without obscuring the characters or other information?
  • How culturally applicable are the characters, the rest of the graphics, and even how the the action is portrayed? Do they need redrawing, replacement, or any other considerations? Check out this piece on how a Marvel Captain America comic was localized into French: “In other words, they are trying to translate the American Visual Language closer to French Visual Language.”
  • What of the actual information being conveyed? Does it make sense once translated? The CSPD does offer the advice that translators to either rewrite relevant portions of the legal discussions to make them reflect the law of your jurisdiction, or post a warning conspicuously they are offering a translation of a comic book that discusses the situation of documentary filmmakers under United States law. Sounds like comics need localization, doesn’t it?

Clearly, a fully-translated and culturally-applicable comic book delivery can be a big undertaking. That’s not to knock anyone’s effort here. Even a basic translation can raise the quality of debate and public information and lead to further investigation by readers, but it must be made clear to consumers that’s the intention of what they’re reading.”

For the original article, click here.



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