Monday, 23 February 2009


Bat-Manga by Chip Kidd is an English reprinting and translation of Japanese Batman comics from the 60s. It's a cool book (but not without a bit of controversy).

What I want to talk about is Chip's note on the translation:

Regarding the translation, by Anne Ishii (and finessed by yours truly), every effort has been made to be faithful to the original scripts... We've tried to strike a delicate balance between what is grammatically correct and what was actually said - two factors often sharply at odds, especially in the marginalia. That's another way of saying: We are certainly not trying to make fun of the Japanese grasp of English, but at the same time, here and there we wanted to preserve its undeniable charm.

Since he is referring to comics that were originally published in Japanese, I'm having trouble understanding this. Does he mean that the Japanese was grammatically incorrect, and they tried to preserve that in the English translation? Does he mean that they tried to emulate "the Japanese grasp of English" in the translations? Neither of these seem likely.

I'm glad I'm not the only one wondering about this.

Anyway, the comics are pretty cool.


mahendra singh said...

I guess I'll rant & rave a while, then leave politely … but it sure has become the "in" thing for publishers/agents/writers to repackage, at a substantial profit to themselves, the hack work of safely dead artists.

Never, in a million years, would that publisher have given Mr. Kuwata any paying assignments, certainly not with a credited by-line.

I need to fake my death so I can get some work before I really do starve to death.

And doesn't it seem as if the translation may be a machine translation, partially?

mahendra singh said...

Apologies to Mr Kuwata and to your readers and thanks for correcting me on Kuwata, John, you are right, he is alive and I see no † date on his Lambiek entry:

And yes, his work is pretty cool!