About Betty’s Boob

June 12th, 2018 § 0 comments

She lost her left breast, her job, and her man. She doesn't know it yet, but this is the best day of her life!

She lost her left breast, her job, and her man. She doesn’t know it yet, but this is the best day of her life!

Truth to tell, I didn’t have to do much translating for my latest graphic novel from BOOM! Studios’ Archaia Imprint, About Betty’s Boob, by Vero Cazot and Julie Rocheleau. The creators do some ingenious things with the silent narrative; my contributions were limited to translating a racy song for a burlesque performance midway through.

Retitled from the original Betty Boob for copyright reasons, this is an affecting story

of one woman’s painful, surreal, and oddly humorous journey following a mastectomy… a seminal work that will simultaneously inspire and surprisingly make you laugh as Betty must deal with loss and acceptance on this unforgettable journey of self-discovery.

It tells the story of the titular Betty, who

wakes up alone in a hospital room and finds herself disoriented by the body that greets her. She must face the cruel outside world obsessed with beauty standards, starting with her boyfriend, who’s having a very hard time dealing with her new look. No one seems to know what to make of this new Betty and neither does she.

The choice to do a silent narrative was informed not only by the comics medium but “references to silent movies and to American cartoons that I grew up with and still enchant me as an adult,” according to artist Rocheleau. “I couldn’t dream of a more fitting achievement for this silent and burlesque title than being adapted and published in the country of Buster Keaton and New-Burlesque,” said writer Cazot.

Caitlin Rosenberg includes it in a June review roundup at Paste:

One of a growing number of French comics and graphic novels to hit the American market in the last few years, About Betty’s Boob also joins the ranks of intimate, personal storytelling by female creators. Though it’s not autobiographical in the tradition of creators like Bechdel and Knisley, Vero Cazot and Julie Rocheleau tackle the complex and nuanced emotions that come along with breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most well-researched and most publicly discussed illnesses, but there aren’t many comics that confront it. The recent run of The Mighty Thor was one of the highest-profile sequential-art discussions of this kind of disease, but About Betty’s Boob is still wading into largely uncharted territory. Tackling loss and questions of femininity and identity from a comedic angle keeps the focus and agency rooted in Betty, not just her cancer or her boob, a fine line that many cancer stories fail to establish. As the book is mostly silent, the lack of dialog to translate will hopefully make the transition for English readers even smoother.

I like to think that my translations also help smooth any transition issues for English readers. After all, that’s part of the job.

Brett has an advance video review up at Graphic Policy. Here’s a book trailer  for the French original. And BOOM! has some preview pages up at their site.


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