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Invisible No More
Over the past several years, the Two Guys with PhDs have reviewed a lot of books in translation. But what they’ve tended to overlook, more times than not, is the translator of the work, the individual who is responsible for taking the imagetext and re-presenting it in a linguistic context that is wholly other. This came to their attention back in February, when Andy and Derek discussed Ludovic Debeurme’s Renée, and then afterwards received an email of appreciation from its translator, Edward Gauvin. In fact, the guys never mentioned Edward at any point during their discussion, which was not only an unfortunate oversight, but also says something about the invisible art of comics translation. As a response to that experience, they wanted to pay homage to translators by speaking with a couple for the podcast.
So on this interview show, Derek has the pleasure of talking with two prolific translators of comics art, Jamie Richards and Edward Gauvin. Each has had two translations recently published. For Jamie it’s Manuele Fiore’s 5,000 km Per Second (from Fantagraphics, and which Gwen and Derek discussed last month) and Igort’s The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death under Soviet Rule (Simon and Schuster), and with Edward it’s Joann Sfar’s Pascin (Uncivilized Books) and Blutch’s Peplum (New York Review Comics). In this interview, they talk with Derek about the process of translation, its various challenges, and the unique role that visuals bring to their work. For example, Jamie discusses the kind of preparations she had to do when translating Igort — specifically her research into Cyrillic languages — and Edward shares his experiences in working with various and, at times, radically diverse publishers. All in all, this interview gives listeners a glimpse into the laborious, and under-appreciated, work of bringing European comics to an English-speaking audience.
Also in this episode, Derek uses the occasion to introduce Edward as the cohost of the new series for The Comics Alternative. Beginning in June, he and Derek will take a monthly look at bandes dessinées, or European comics in translation, that will be similar in structure to the podcast’s monthly manga series. This is yet another way that The Two Guys with PhDs plan to introduce their listeners to comics that are different and off the beaten mainstream path.