Tag Archives: comics

Ladies First

15 Oct

No trip to Berlin would be complete without some time spent in one of my favourite bookshops.


Modern Graphics has been selling comics and graphic novels in Berlin for the past 20 years. They have two branches: one in Europa-Center that specialises in mangas, and the shop that I’m more familiar with, which is located in Kreuzberg and also sells artbooks, posters and action figures.

They have a great selection from independant publishers, which makes the shop a fun place to keep updated on what is going on with the German comics scene.

I also enjoy checking out which French authors get translated in German. That’s how I discovered that publisher Carlsen  had launched a collection targetting women readers about a year ago, with comics from Pénélope Bagieu and Margaux Motin amongst others.


The premise is that women read comics differently. I’m not sure I’m on board with that. Sure, it’s better than stating that women don’t read comics. And I like that female authors and artists are represented in the collection. DC could learn a thing or two from this. But I’m not convinced that women are looking for something essentially different than men do, when they read comics. Sure, most of the women I know are more likely to read Persepolis type graphic novels than superheroes comics, but guess what? The same can be said of most grown-up men. It is a particular subtype of adults who reads superheroes stories, but the fact that it is special interest doesn’t make it male only. Of course, a little bit more representation would go a long way.

Interestingy enough, I came across this relevant article recently.



30 Mai

Je suis finalement allée voir Avengers ce week-end et je boucle en ce moment ma première traduction d’un comics de super-héros. Autant dire que je baigne dans les super-pouvoirs… et le second degré, car mon héros, Butcher Baker, n’est pas du genre traditionnel. Désabusé, obsédé sexuel et peu soucieux des dommages collatéraux, il passe sa retraite entre orgies et beuveries, lorsque un politicien lui demande de reprendre du service pour une mission secrète : faire exploser une prison de haute sécurité où sont enfermés un paquet de super-méchants hauts en couleur. Il accepte, mais quelques super-villains survivent à l’attaque et sont bien décidés à se venger… L’histoire de Joe Casey semble simple, mais part dans tous les sens. Ses dialogues émaillés de jurons et de tirades poétiques et ses références à l’Americana ont attiré mon attention de traductrice ! En parfaite adéquation, les dessins hyper dynamiques de Mike Huddleston passent avec brio de la couleur au noir et blanc. Les couvertures des albums sont particulièrement originales et barrées. La version française sortira en octobre, publiée par le label 619.

Autre nouvelle du neuvième art : Le Tueur de la Green River, que j’ai traduit il y a quelques mois est paru récemment. Ce roman graphique retrace l’affaire du tueur en série Gary Leon Ridgway. Sur un scénario de Jeff Jensen, fils de Tom Jensen, l’enquêteur chargé de l’affaire, le récit évite tout sensationnalisme . Il est parfaitement servi par le dessin sobre et classique de Jonathan Case, dont je suis désormais fan. (Je vous recommande d’ailleurs son premier ouvrage, Dear Creature.) Cerise sur le gâteau, l’édition est particulièrement soignée et le texte est préfacé par Stéphane Bourgoin, spécialiste des tueurs en série.

Quelques critiques :




He may be able to fly all through the night but can he a rock a party till the early light?

21 Mai


I’m translating my first proper superhero comic book! Well « proper » might not be the right word here… See, I’m working on the Butcher Baker series created by Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston. And Butcher Baker is no boy scout. Unlike Superman, he doesn’t do the flying thing, but he certainly can satisfy a whole lot of ladies. And boy does he have a filthy mouth!

From a translator’s point of view, there is an interesting mix of profanity and philosophical considerations, and my favourite: cultural references galore. The editor wanted to stay as truthful to the original as possible and the readership is adult, so there is no shortage of foul speech in the French version.

As for the book itself, it is just a little out there.  The premises of the story are simple: a retired superhero is hired by the government to secretely blow up a high security prison for supervillains. Some of the villains survive and seek revenge. Mayhem ensues… litteraly. (Well, you’ll have to read it yourself to get that one). Mike Huddleston’s over-the-top artwork and his brilliant use of colour are the perfect match for Joe Casey’s oversexed superhero. The French version of Butcher Baker will be published this autumn by Label 619.

In other news, Le Tueur de la Green River, which I translated a few months ago, just came out and has been gathering good reviews so far. This beautiful thick book relates the disenchanted tale of the detective who tracked down serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway. Written by Jeff Jensen, the son of the detective, the graphic novel certainly doesn’t glamourise serial killers. Jonathan Case’s classic black and white artwork suits the atmosphere perfectly. Green River Killer was originally published by Dark Horse.

Et tout le reste est littérature

16 Mar

I’ve been pondering in my latest post in French about the concepts of technical translation and literary translation. Most of my work is neither technical, nor literary, but editorial. Some people will argue that any translation published in a book is « literary translation », while all the rest is « technical ». I disagree. Transcreating an advertising tagline, translating or summarizing a news article, subtitling a documentary about the life of a rapper is NOT technical translation. I’d feel like a fraud pretending that I have the same skills as a former engineer specialised in patent translation. On the other hand none of this is literary translation either and while translating a manga, a comic book or a graphic novel  qualifies as literary translation in my opinion, I’m still fairly new at it. For all these reasons, as I wrote a few days ago, I can never think of a proper answer when people ask me if I’m a technical or literary translator.

Anyway, funnily enough, yesterday, the lady sitting next to me at the « Rencontres de la traduction », an event around translation on the sidelines of Paris book fair, saw on my badge that I was a member of SFT, the major translators’association in France, and not of ATLF, the French literary translators’association and immediately reacted: « Oh that’s for technical translators, right?! » To which I answered that SFT was open to all translators.

I have a lot more to say about the Rencontres, including a translation fairy tale, but work is piling up, so I’m saving this for a later post, hopefully sometimes today.

Stay tuned…


Comic strip

27 Août

As much as I enjoy translating White Papers, press releases and ad campaigns, it’s been a breath of fresh air working on one of my most recent project: the adaptation of a comic book, the first volume of Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu! It (comics) is a first for me and I had not translated fiction in a long time, so I was a bit anxious to get it right and convey the author’s universe to French readers.

You might know Dan Hipp as the illustrator of The Amazing Joy Buzzards, which tells the adventures of superstar rock’n roll band members/CIA agents/superheroes who fight evil all over the world. His trilogy, Gyakushu!, is a somewhat darker story of revenge. With its nameless hero and great fight scenes, it’s reminiscent of spaghetti westerns, kung fu flicks and Tarantino’s movies. I actually re-watched Kill Bill 1 & 2 while in the last phases of editing and proofing in order to get in the atmosphere.

Having no prior experience with translating comics, I found myself thinking as a subtitler about the relationship between text and image, about how to write down spoken language and of course about the necessity to keep it short. There were also comic-specific challenges such as the translation of onomatopoeia. I find that a lot of these are descriptive in English (think Splash!, Riiip!, etc.) whereas the French ones are more of the Wham! Bam! persuasion.

Finally the biggest challenge was to stay true to the author’s style. I love how Dan Hipp is extremely referential but still manages to put his own twist on things. I love how action-packed the book is and how fast you end up reading it. To be honest, the visual art does most of the job, but the storytelling is also quite original, with a narrator guiding us through the flashbacks and giving clues about what is going to happen.

Anyway, the job is now finished and the editor was quite pleased with it. All three volumes of Gyakushu are already available in English and you can check Dan Hipp’s work on his blog: http://mrhipp.blogspot.com/