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: "Last year, Fantagraphics reproduced Catalog No. 439 of the DeMoulin Brothers – the most extensive depiction of initiation contraptions and ritual outfits used by Freemasons and other fraternal orders, like the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and E. Clampus Vitus. Bearing the title Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, this wacky book may shed a shred of light into the outer sanctum of these associations – unless, of course, it is actually a hoax disseminated to lead us astray. [...] Even if Enlightenment should, as always, prove ever elusive, the illustrated designs of Edmund DeMoulin and the handiwork of his brothers Ulysses and Erastus, as reproduced in Burlesque Paraphernalia, will still deliver amusing, if sadistic, anthropology. [...] Book lovers... will fall for its hundred and fifty full-page plates of machines of untold mischief. " – Jeffrey Wengrofsky, Coilhouse
• Review/Commentary: "...I end up seeing Ditko’s work arc from earliest 'dependent work' as he calls it, the charming, imaginative comics collected in Unexplored Worlds, the rockets, superintelligent monkeys, green insect aliens seeking earthling wives, paintings that lead to another world, angelic visitors and poetically just twist endings, to his later work created entirely on his own terms and for his own purpose, but less effective as his characters become 'ciphers' and his design, text-heavy." – Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Commentary:David Chelsea posts his email debate with Kim Thompson re: Joost Swarte's use of perspective. Kim: "Maybe you aren’t seeing the forest for the trees — or the ground below the trees that comprises the forest because you’re looking at it from a horizontal-oblique perspective." Zing!
• Craft: At TCJ.com, Frank Santoro applies his lessons in page proportion and layout to a Tintin page by Hergé
Yeah, we're great, and our books are late. Why, what did you think the headline meant?
Anyway, a new year is upon and it's time to 'fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don't, because we suck. Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!
The following have been rescheduled: • THE ANTIC CARTOON ART OF T.S. SULLIANT will be reformatted, rethought, re-solicited, and released in early 2012 • FORLORN FUNNIES VOLUME 1 by Paul Hornschemeier will be released in the Summer of 2011 • THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala will be re-solicited and released in July 2011 • HOW TO READ NANCY will be re-solicited and released in 2012 in a vastly expanded version from what we first expected • IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (né MODERN SWARTE, originally announced for 2007) in late Fall 2011: Yes, Joost has turned in all the files and publishers in three countries are synchronizing their watches! • NANCY IS HAPPY will be released in late 2011: It turns out that there was more production work than we anticipated to make the book as perfect as humanly possible.) • POGO VOLUME 1 will be released in the Fall of 2011 - yes, seriously, for real this time
Apologies for the late late Online Commentary & Diversions update:
• List:Comic Book Resources continues listing their Top 100 Comics of 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia at #33 ("A totally creepy homage to the ink blot stylings of the early animation era, the book works as part horror comic, part abstract tour de force, part satire and all face melter, cementing Columbia's place as one of the most unique and mysterious voices in comics." – Kiel Phegley) and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga at #20 ("a brilliant, insightful comic with inventive layouts and dead-on emotion" – John Parkin)
• List: Don MacPherson of Eye on Comics names the short list for the 2009 Glass Eye Awards for Best Original Graphic Novel: "Gilbert Hernandez’s The Troublemakers was no doubt a delight for fans of the Love and Rockets writer/artist, but as an only casual reader of his work, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The quirky combination of slice-of-life elements and a crime drama worked incredibly well, and while The Troublemakers boasts a connection to the world of L&R, one needn’t be aware of it or versed in those other comics to appreciate this graphic novel."
• Review: "[Hal] Foster’s classic tales of knightly derring-do are a beloved part of the newspaper comics section. It’s difficult to laud Foster too excessively; he was one of the undisputed masters of the craft. A new effort to reprint the Valiant epic in sequential order is off to a roaring start with Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, a handsome oversize volume reprinting the first two years’ worth of the Arthurian saga’s Sunday strips. Despite its creation in the late 1930s..., the comic strip’s otherworldly setting and taut characterization keep this an evergreen favorite for readers of all ages, an American epic born of a tale of European romance." – Aaron Ragan-Fore, Eugene Weekly
• Plug: Jason Pettigrew, editor-in-chief of Alternative Press magazine, lists our forthcoming Joost Swarte collection as one of the 5 things he's most looking forward to in 2010 — except that the book is now on tap for 2011 and the title has changed from Modern Swarte to Is That All There Is?
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama