Working my way through the Joost Swarte book, I stumbled across this panel (I'm showing the French version because the Dutch one I have only in black and white, and it needs to be shown in color for the full effect), in which a woman Joost's hero Jopo is trying to pick up leaves him a kiss-off message written in lipstick on a mirror. And I thought, uh-oh.
This Swarte book is being printed in a "co-production," which means that two or more publishers simultaneously go to press on the same book in different languages. In order to achieve this, the publishers have to make sure that any alterations for translation purposes appear only in the BLACK layer (the covers are excepted from this) — so any text has to either be in a common language, or distractingly translated via a footnote. A red lipstick scrawl telling someone to fuck off (or in the case of the French version that he's a "testicle," which is kind of like calling someone a dick) in a foreign language is a definite reader-annoyance.
Here's your first look at the final cover design for Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954, the first comprehensive collection of the great graphic storyteller's work from the era. Editor Greg Sadowski is wrapping up his meticulous restoration of the pages and we're looking at a July/August release for this 416-page full-color tome.
(Everything's coming up Toth today: at TCJ.com, Dan Nadel posted his interview with Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell about their mammoth upcoming Toth monograph Genius, Isolated.)
Between my own (ahem) vast accumulated knowledge and the marvels of the internet, it's rare that I find myself genuinely stumped by a line in a book I'm translating, but when I came across this particular panel in the Joost Swarte book Is That All There Is? that will (yes, it will!) be coming out later this year, I was mystified:
Jopo de Pojo is trying to slip out of a movie theatre midshow, and while the latter two patrons' comments are are self-evident enough (an irate "hush!" and a complaint about Jopo's trademark quiff, mistaken for a hat), the first one baffled me, as it seemed to say "would you let out the goat?" or perhaps "are you going to let out the goat?"
As it happens, there exists an English language version of this story created by the Dutch publisher, which Joost himself once referred to as a "hippie translation" (meaning somewhat erratic). And yes, the hippie translator in question had rendered the line with strict literalness: "Are you going to walk your goat?" Which was of no help whatsoever.
Now, I did suspect it might be some Dutch expression I didn't know (Dutch is not my strongest language by a long shot), but a Google search yielded nothing but a series of (admittedly very cute) photos of goats.
As I was flailing around, I started wondering if this was an insulting reference to Jopo's trademark foot-tall quiff (earlier in the book someone else had referred to him as "that idiot with the shark-fin on his head")... but fortunately, like Woody Allen pulling out Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, I had access to the unimpeachable prime source and so I cut to the chase and just emailed Joost and asked him.
Turns out "letting out the goat" is Dutch slang for going to take a pee. Aha! (And Duh!)
I always loved that phrase. One big satisfaction of working as a translator is being able to drop in some of your pet expressions.
I went back and checked the French version of this story, and it turns out that translator also literally translated it as "letting out the goat," which I'm pretty sure is not a French expression for urination, or anything else. So I was apparently neither the first nor the second to fall into that particular trap; I was just the first to confess my bafflement to the author. Sometimes confessing one's ignorance is the wisest thing one can do.
...Unless Joost is just fucking with me. (Or, as the English would say, taking the piss out of me.)
PS: Talk about burying the lede: Yes, four years after we announced it, Joost Swarte has finally delivered the files for this book, and all I can say is that given how wonderful this book is and how utterly meticulous his (and his assistants') work on reconstructing the pages (from a rat's nest of originals, negatives, photostats, etc.) has been, that now seems like an entirely reasonable wait. You will not be disappointed.
• Review: "Even though Peanuts's peak was sometime back in the sixties these books are still coming out and you know what? They're still good. I keep waiting for a sharp decline in quality to hit but I'm still enjoying seeing Snoopy blissfully living out his fantasies, Charlie Brown being unable to ever be happy, Lucy being a jerk, etc. [...] This book suddenly made me want to go back in time very, very hard. I want to live in Peanuts so bad. Fuck my life. Someone help get me out of this life." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Jordan Crane has a sweet skinny line and can draw like no one else. He can draw complicated scenes and it's clear that he never uses a ruler. There's something very friendly and reassuring about his drawing style. Jordan Crane is without a doubt one of the best guys in the alt comix game right now and my only criticism of him is that I wish he turned out more work. Jordan's making the comics that everyone else is trying to make but unlike them, he's succeeding at it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Coming Attractions:Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights a couple of our August 2011 releases. First, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette: "The fantasy grime of Manchette's noir thrillers may not equal the true-life grime of World War I, but both make pretty darn gripping reading when Tardi gets through with them. It Was the War of the Trenches made numerous 2010 best-of lists, including those of Booklist and Library Journal. Manchette and Tardi's previous collaboration on West Coast Blues didn't do badly either, being nominated for two Eisners. With Sniper, a pro killer wants to nail one last job before retiring to marry his childhood sweetheart. But of course it's no cupcake gig." Second, Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté by Spain Rodgriguez: "Here we have tales of the wild 1950s in muscular black and white, some memoir and some just tales, from take-no-prisoners Zap Comix veteran Rodriguez. [...] Expect this one to be adults-only: motorcycles, raunch, and rock 'n' roll and described as the unsentimental and hilarious 'anti-Happy Days.'"
• Commentary:On his blog, our manga editor/translator Matt Thorn weighs in on the damaging legacy left behind by TokyoPop
• Analysis: "Hey, Wait... presents a varied collection of strategies which help express emptiness and lack of meaning; the metaphorical use of silences and visual minimalism are two of these, and will become frequent in the author’s repertory in the following books. Meaninglessness, though, can also be expressed by adopting an aesthetics of visual excess (since both lack and overload can be equally menacing to the production of meaning). In this specific page, this is done at a typographical level." – Greice Schneider, The Comics Grid
• Blood & Thunder: "Why do you continue to publish Maakies? Is it intended to disgust people?" – Kevin Rutkowski, in a Letter to the Editor of The Austin Chronicle
On his Here Lies Richard Sala blog, Richard Sala posted this drool-inducing photo of original pages for his forthcoming graphic novel The Hidden, along with an update on the status of the book, which is now complete and undergoing production. He also points out an eerie incidence of life imitating comics, which, if you know his work, is rather ominous.
Here's your first look at the final cover design for Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising edited by Rick Marschall & Warren Bernard, which is heading to the printer soon for a July release date. The book represents a couple of firsts for us: it's the first release from our Marschall Books imprint, and it's the first design job under salary from the newest member of our Art Department, Tony Ong, formerly at Dark Horse. (As a freelancer, Tony designed the cover for the second printing of Four Color Fear.) That's Tony's beautiful hand-lettering, too.
The Comics Reporter broke the news that the next volume of Mome, number 22, will be the last. CR's Tom Spurgeon commented and spoke to Mome editor Eric Reynolds about ending the long-running anthology; Rob Clough talked to Eric at TCJ.com; and Sean T. Collins comments at Robot 6. We thank the three of them and everyone else who has been a proponent of the series. I for one will miss the publication and abhor the vacuum its departure will leave, but look forward to Eric's future editorial efforts and future work from Mome's long list of contributors.
As we've been working on M. Tillieux's Murder by High Tide I've become gripped by Tillieux's cartooning, especially his panel composition and pitch-perfect, push-pull blend of "naturalist" and "cartoony" figure work. What follows are a series of panels from Catch as Catch Can (the second story featured in Murder by High Tide) that I've been particularly struck by. Note: these panels, in their finished form, will be colored and lettered.
This panel reminds me of Toth or Xaime, what with how the acting, lighting and composition leads the eye to read Gil Jordan's darkened face and arm as he slowly creeps the door open to… what???
That's Gil Jordan dashing into the shadows as he's hot on the heels of Joe The Syringe. This panel stopped me cold.
I love this panel. I half expect to see my reflection in the rearview mirror. I used to think panels like this didn't work… or that you had to be Xaime to make them work, but time and time again Tilleux subtly or overtly places the reader's sightline in such a way to immerse your eye into Gil Jordan's four color world.
What could've easily been a throwaway panel graciously offers Tillieux's masterful drawing as acting equals cartooning!
Bonus! Six panel action sequence from Catch as Catch Can. (Click to see bigger.)
Tillieux's best work stands tensely between Hergé's ligne claire and Franquin's reverent bounce. It's the hearing-the-ice-crack tension of Tillieux's ink that brings it for me as it flawlessly meets the gestalt of the mystery thriller genre. And if that weren't enough, Tillieux, like American film director Howard Hawks, is a master of characterization and letting the scene play out. As a fan of the comfortable character interaction of Hawks' Rio Bravo and Hatari, I could spend all day hanging out with Gil Jordan and his assistant, Crackerjack!