Comics Translation Seminar

Graphic novels, manga, super-heroes, westerns, sci-fi, literary adaptations, classics, underground: practically every type of form and content is available when it comes to comics; it’s almost impossible to clearly delineate works using stylistic features. And the demands on translators are just as diverse. In-depth knowledge, appropriate transmission of high literary styles, language jokes and wordplay that are closely connected to the images and, quite possibly, only 5 letters of space available to get the point across: often all at the same time.

It makes sense, then, that our association joined together with the German Translators’ Fund to host a seminar on the subject. From the 9th to the 13th of September, eleven comic book translators attended the seminar at the Berlin Literary Colloquium in Wannsee. Each of them applied to the seminar with a specific translation project they intended to work on.

Based on the texts they brought with them, they discussed the possibilities and limits of reproducing speech in comics. They also dealt with questions surrounding contracts, price per page and other professional policy aspects. A total of eight working languages were represented: Italian, French, English, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Czech and Japanese. 

The seminar was run by Myriam Alfano, who has translated, among others, works by Gipi and Igort from Italian into German. Additional input was provided by the editor Heike Drescher, author and critic Thomas von Steinaecker and translator Uli Pröfrock.

Comic Ilki Kocer
© Ilki Kocer

Illustration: Ilki Kocer/Alphabet des Ankommens