translators vs. editors

Don Rosa donrosa at
Tue Feb 26 13:58:11 CET 2002

I just received a message from one of my many translator friends who seems
to have misunderstood what I was saying about various foreign (as re. the
original) editions of comics (or movies, etc.). I was certainly not
criticizing translators! "Why, some of my best friends are translators!" I
know that there are translators who do such good jobs in translating my
stories into their idioms, changing untranslatable gags or puns or
expressions, that their translations are funnier than my originals! But note
that my comments always referred to the *editors*. The impression I was
getting from the original questioner was that some comic editors might have
the general policy to *never even attempt* to translate broken or accented
language, and have the wrongheaded idea that to have all dialogue in perfect
grammar is more important than preserving the original intent of the story.
For example, my hillbilly aliens in "Attack of the Hideous Space
Varmints"... *obviously* the translations will not have them speaking Jed
Clampett English, and I cannot begin to imagine how a diligent translator
will manage to handle the translation of such a mess as I've made for him --
I'm sure he'll sweat blood in the attempt. But what I refer to is the editor
who tells him to not even try because he has a policy against anything but
perfect spelling and grammar in his editions. This would make me start to
imagine a newspaper editor who disliked the grammar in Walt Kelly's POGO
strips and before he'd allow them to be published in his paper, he'd have
someone rewrite all of the Swamp critters' dialogue into perfect English.
People would be better off seeing a blank spot on the comics page! I will
sometimes go down into the "vault" and get out my Dell ANIMAL COMICS of the
40's (where Kelly created "Pogo") and if I'm sure no one can hear me, read
the dialogue aloud to myself. Of the art, the plot, the gags, and the
dialogue, it was the *dialogue* that was the best part of the strip!

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