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Comic-Con 2010: Manga Translation Panel - Page 7

Pro Translators Talk About Online Piracy Ethics and Digital Publishing

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Mark Simmons and Jason Thompson

Mark Simmons and Jason Thompson

© Deb Aoki

Shaenon Garrity: I should add that VIZ has websites available that offer lots of sample material free to read online right now. There's tons of stuff. You get to the SigIkki.com website, and there are whole volumes of a bunch of their titles, which I recommend because they're all great. ShonenSunday.com has free online manga too. I recommend that you to look at this because they put up a lot of really neat stuff; especially the SigIkki titles.

Jonathan Tarbox: I just went to the panel before this one. It was with the CEO of Panel Fly, or was it Comixology? I asked them, 'When are you guys gonna drive print completely out of business?' And they were bending over backwards to say, 'Oh no, there will always be print.'

I thought, 'Okay, you guys are here. You're at Comic-Con and you don't want to tick off all those publishers that are downstairs who are now licensing work.' But I think it's clear to all of us that the day will come when the vast majority of comic books are consumed digitally. I think so, maybe you guys do too.

Jason Thompson: Well, I agree. I think we're going to see print focusing on creating books that are more like precious commodities, to make it worthwhile to buy given that readers will have a choice between buying a book in print or reading it online. We're going to see content that is considered to be more disposable or cheap, or you know, trashy - that stuff is going to be primarily published online.

This is interesting, because that kind of flies against the very nature of manga in Japan. One of the things that made manga different from American comics is American comics were the ones with the high production values and they were in color, whereas manga was always presented in black and white. The manga magazines were printed on crappy paper, and it was cheap.

Those things don't apply on Internet. In the Internet, there's no reason for manga not to be in color and there's no reason for artists not to crank out full-color artwork in that style.

THE FATE OF GUNDAM MANGA IN THE U.S. AND MORE LABYRINTH MOVIES

Attendee 7: This is to Mark. It's actually a short two-part question. The first one is, I collect mostly Gundam, among other anime. Gundam: The Origin was initially published byVIZ . Was that essentially a financial flop, is that why you cancelled it?

Mark Simmons: Bill, you might have a better idea of that.

William Flanagan: Well, I think it wasn't necessarily a financial flop in Japanese. But as far as I could tell, it did not sell gangbusters in America.

Attendee 7: My follow-up question is: I know Tokyopop is doing a Gundam manga whenever it gets out, but do you see a future for any more Gundam stuff coming over, and not alternative universe stories?

Mark Simmons: Well, if you'd asked me this last year I would have said, 'Ah, forget it, get a new hobby.' But somehow I feel that things are looking up now. Probably that's because we've got Gundam Unicorn - Gundam UC - coming out now, which is what I'm working on presently. They're releasing that here, so they'll have some kind of merchandising. I thought Gundam was kind of done here for the time being, but it keeps going.

It's still with us. Maybe it always will be. Be ready. Be strong. Believe. That's not an actual Gundam tagline. I fail as a Gundam fan for not quoting!

Attendee 8: Has anyone ever considered doing a series of Gundam novels like they did with Robotech books?

Mark Simmons: As far as I know, the answer to that is no. I would imagine that part of that is because, you know, that's something that would have to be coordinated from Japan.

Robotech as Robotech was shown here, was an American creation, and so Americans were in the position to sublet that. You know, I don't think anybody has enough control over Gundam in the West that they would be empowered to authorize the creation of original works. It would have to be something where Sunrise in Japan was kind of masterminding things. I don't know of anybody actually trying to print original English language Gundam novels here.

Jonathan Tarbox: There's a whole market for light novels. Light novels are basically when you take an anime series or a manga series and write novelizations for them. But there tend to be certain genres and certain titles that are more prone to it. A heavy sci-fi or a heavy SFX series like Gundam doesn't make for good prose writing, so much. It is, as Mark pointed out, is completely up to the Japanese creators whether or not that's going to happen.

William Flanagan: Well, actually, I translated a Gundam light novel, so there are some light novels out there, but they are not original works, they're translations of the Japanese novels.

Attendee 9: This is for Jake Forbes. Are they going to make Return to Labyrinth into a movie?

Jake Forbes: There are no plans for that right now. But that's a question for The Jim Henson Company, because they're the ones who control the license. If they do, I'll be the first person in line.

William Flanagan: Okay. I'd like to thank everybody on the panel, and thank you all for your great questions.

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