Alexis Siegel, 師傅 & Maître

January 31st, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s wonderful, as I fly into a new translation for First Second Books, to know I’ll once more have the intrepid and dependable Alexis Siegel on wing, ready to blast any tricky French from the sky before it blindsides me. I call him my mentor, though never to his face; he’d surely decline the title.

The target, this time, is yet another collection from the mind of the ever-zany and hyperprolific Lewis Trondheim. I’ve never seen the Nicktoons import version, though the books are predictably uproarious. Trondheim is one of the great French humorists, right up there with Francis Veber in my book, though my favorite thing he’s done would still be Farniente, a slim book from L’Asso with art by Dominique Hérody: a quiet series of witty, wistful conversations between a husband and wife on vacation, he the pessimist, she, well, une française. » Read the rest of this entry «

Blushing and Gushing

January 4th, 2007 § 2 comments § permalink

The most excellent Dave Baxter of Broken Frontier has this to say about my work on Archaia’s Okko series by Hub, launched last month (Aie! Last year already!):

“It should also be noted that the translation of dialogue and caption box by Edward Gauvin is one of the best European genre fiction has yet received in the American comic market, and the infamously stilted dialogue and prose of past imported series is happily, conspicuously missing.” » Read the rest of this entry «

Nouveautés

February 6th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

* Two new translations by yours truly up at Words Without Borders, the Online Magazine of International Literature, as their first ever Graphic Issue, long in the offing, becomes a reality this month. O frabjous day! Treats for lovers of la B.D. dit avant-garde, as L’Association founding member Jean-Christophe Menu would have it, or alternative Euro-comics, as they might say in the States. Which means no tights. An excerpt from La Bombe Familiale, by French comics superstar David B., best known in English for his epic Epileptic and his appearances in Fantagraphics’ Mome, thanks to the tireless efforts of the polyglot Kim Thompson. A short first published by L’Asso in their Patte de Mouche collection back in distant ’97, it tells the humane and absurd tale of a city in the shadow of war, and the dangers of befriending missiles. David B.’s bold blacks and whites, as ever, combine unease, imagination, and storybook immediacy.
Favorites of The Comic’s Reporter‘s Bart Beaty since their début, the Belgians Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, who walked off with this year’s Best Newcomer Award at Angoulême for their Panier de Singe (L’Association, coll. Ciboulette), penned a short, “Les Pharaons d’Égypte“, from the January 2005 issue of Les Réquins Marteaux‘s revue Ferraille Illustré. The duo upend traditional time and space within the panels of this nightmarish social invective; their faceless characters achieve a worrisome menace. I hope I’ve done justice to the almost Beckettian exchange of banalities, the patter populating their pages. » Read the rest of this entry «

En voyage (d'affaires)

February 20th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

A short stateside tour: popping up at, among other places, NY Comic Con. Forgive the absence–too luddite, or is it lazy? to post from the road. Happy Lunar New Year, best wishes to all believers for the pig days ahead. Snow country, here I come.

At Play in the Fields of the Taipei Book Fair

March 15th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

It is one thing to be lulled into a sense of progress, learning Chinese from a book, by readings ingeniously limited to the words each lesson introduces; quite another to be confronted by those words in the wilds of the language at large. That native habitat finds them consorting promiscuously with strange characters in more configurations than were sketched by Bosch: phrases, formalities, compounds and commercial puns, the elaborate titles of common dishes. Walking down the street, my head swiveling at ads, is to see some word I thought to know leering at me from a coupling at whose meaning I can only guess. This induces in me something like the vertigo of chancing on a girl, believed demure, in some obscure debauchery: lightheaded from the loss of some certainty.

Of the 3000 characters Chinese is said to employ on a common basis, I now know, I would venture, 500: which is to say my chances of recognizing a character are roughly those of losing at Russian roulette. I conceived of the 15th Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) as a citadel of language: a chance to glimpse words at work and play in all the possibilities print offered. I would pick up one, maybe two new expressions. Mostly I would wander in studious bewilderment. My first stop was, just past Google, the pavilion of the Bureau International de l’Édition Française (BIEF), to pay homage as a translator of French to this distant outpost of the Republic of Letters. I returned there several times over the course of three visits to the fair, which I never did entirely cover.

Anyone deriving from my orbits some erroneously Franco-centric notion of the floor plan might be briskly disabused thereof with a glance at the map by whose lights, were booth size any indicator of real-world real estate, France, while still outsizing Google’s domain (but only just), would cover less than half the feudal holdings of Japan’s manga emperor Tohan, its shelves heavy with revues thick as phone books. With some geographic justice, none of these in square footage could rival Russia. As this year’s guest of honor, it boasted both the smallest books—a collection of exquisite miniatures, including Chekhov’s Guinness-recordholding “Chameleon”—and the largest pavilion: yards of carpeted steppe, dotted with scarlet cushions, right under where the roof drew like a giant breath up past stacked balconies toward a skylight vault. Of course booth size and location signified no more secret hierarchy than the pecuniary, and certainly not the geopolitical; no surprise to this jaded shopper, who regularly mistakes, while strolling chain bookstores, the piles of sales displays for bar graphs of publisher funding. Still, I would’ve liked, from idle curiosity, to see last year’s floor plan overlay this year’s in some informative animation of who’d shrunk or grown, gone or stayed. » Read the rest of this entry «

Go Buy Secret History #2: The Castle of the Djinns

April 22nd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

A little plugging never hurt a blog. In hectic February I missed the boat when another series I’d been translating for Archaia Studios Press made its debut on the racks the week after NYCC—namely, The Secret History. Here I am, catching up with a few words in time for the release of the second issue.

Archaia’s Secret History 2

I’ve now read and translated my way through four books of The Secret History, taking me in the story’s chronology up through the late Middle Ages, via the Crusades and the Wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and the Renaissance siege of Rome, featuring everybody’s favorite action hero artisan, Benvenuto Cellini, whose classic memoirs I’m now inspired to read. The series has definitely grown on me, and the transition from crazy Igor Kordey’s art in the first two books to the more even, if less impassioned work of Goran Sudzuka in the third hasn’t been jarring. There’s some particularly lovely brushwork in the third volume, when a band of evil monks raid a sacred forest (shades of Broceliande and Fangorn, and also naked killer druid chicks. That phrase alone should draw some Google traffic my way). » Read the rest of this entry «

More Nouveautés

April 22nd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Just finished the semifinal draft of Okko #6 this week. That’s two issues into The Cycle of Earth, which will follow on The Cycle of Waterwhich I trust you all are reading faithfully—when that concludes this summer. No spoilers, hopefully, in forecasting a satisfying character arc for our young narrator Tikku, and a rare creature for any D&D fans of Oriental Adventures from back in the day. Also, hints of pleasingly troubling moral ambiguity shadow our heroes’ triumph—seeds of greater future uncertainty and even thematic grandeur? We deny monsters, the other, whatever we hate, the capacity to feel what we believe ennobles us—for if they too were so entitled, then what should tell us apart? And how should we justify our mercilessness toward them?

 

I myself haven’t read the second volume of The Cycle of Earth yet. Maybe it’ll even tell what the deal is with Noburo and his mask.

 

Okko # 3 out in stores this very month! Go buy it! Or, er, be square. » Read the rest of this entry «

Sardine in Outer Space

June 8th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert’s rollicking Sardine 4, now at the First Second site with a preview, hits shelves this fall! Or pick up an early copy at SDCC.  I’ll be there.

The Way to San Diego

July 27th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Scheduled to be out the door and on the freeways 10 minutes ago, with a box of donuts in my lap, on the road south from L.A. Yessir, it’s Friday, and I’ll be at the great Comic Con of 2007, for all those fans of… er, translation. Seriously, though, today or tomorrow, check out my friend and co-creator G.B. Tran‘s table in Small Press, or drop by at the Archaia Studios booth and say Hi! I’ll likely be there or roaming the vast nerdy plains. Can’t wait! Also, check out the afternoon premiere of NBC’s fall series Chuck, co-created by the formidable Chris Fedak–known in college days of yore simply as The Fedak.

Cat Leaves Bag

July 29th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Tentative French Cover

First Second founder Mark Siegel, in an interview at ICv2, has referenced their Cyril Pedrosa Spring ’08 title I’d kept unnamed on the Translations page, alors autant vendre la mèche, moi aussi: Three Shadows, from Delcourt’s Shampooing imprint, is a paean to parental love and the necessity of letting go from the former Disney animator. I can only agree with Mark’s murmured and admiring assessment during our brief San Diego conversation: “angles you’ve never seen before”. The French version, tentative cover above, comes out this fall.

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