Table of contents:
- “I have to explain to my parents that Spider-Man will not force their children to kill” - about the love of comics
- "We are not very smart, so we publish what we love ourselves": about the work of a translator and our own comic book publishing house
- “I can't stop and translate until all capillaries explode in my eyes”: on the approach to work and life
- Life hacking from Ruslan Khubiev
2023 Author: Malcolm Clapton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 06:26
About the power of education, a collection of seven thousand comics and translation to exploded capillaries.
“I have to explain to my parents that Spider-Man will not force their children to kill” - about the love of comics
Many people know you as a person who has connected with comics all his life: you have been reading them for 15 years, collecting for 12 years and translating for 8 years. Where does such great love come from?
- At the age of 11, I had a slight concussion. This is the most disgusting thing that can happen at all: in principle, you are fine, but you constantly feel nauseous, and you have to hang around in the hospital for two months. For entertainment, you could only bang your head against a wall or stand on your hands. I was literally going crazy with boredom, so my mother started bringing me comics: Tom and Jerry, Bamsey, Duck Tales, and in addition, Marvel and DC editions - I don't know where she got them. I had five magazines at my disposal, which I only did and reread. It brightened my leisure time, and I realized that comics can greatly help in a difficult situation, in times of depression or boredom, especially when you are a child.
At lectures in different cities, I often have to explain to parents that Spider-Man will not force their children to kill someone - this is a standard stupid fear. Many comics, on the contrary, are geared towards raising positive moral qualities in children. The same Spider-Man is the personification of a simple guy who is guided not so much by his strength as by his desire to help.
How many comics do you have in your collection?
- I do not collect individual magazines, but collections. If we count by issues, then about seven thousand, and if in collections - about 400 pieces.
Which one is the most expensive?
- There is a wonderful comic strip "Essex County" about the inhabitants of a small county in Canada. I love it very much, so I decided that I wanted to have the best edition: there are fifty in all, and I bought the very first one. I can’t accurately estimate it, since this is a limited edition: prices for unique items can go up to 80,000 rubles. As a rule, the cost depends on the impudence of the seller.
In addition to "Essex County" on the shelf is "Death of Gwen Stacy" autographed by Stan Lee - this edition now costs about 110,000 rubles.
Some things are just expensive, but do not evoke warm feelings: you can buy a comic book, because you know that in 15 minutes it will not be on the shelves and the price will increase several times. I am lucky that some of the most expensive titles in my collection are also my favorites.
How much do you spend a month on the purchase of publications in order to constantly update the collection and stay in the subject?
- Differently. Now I slowed down a bit, but there was a time when I could spend all the money that I had on comics, let's say 80,000 rubles.
To stay in the subject, you need to study a lot of comics and, accordingly, spend a lot. And for me to be distracted from the agenda for at least a week is fatal.
"We are not very smart, so we publish what we love ourselves": about the work of a translator and our own comic book publishing house
Your work is also related to comics. How did you become a translator?
- At the age of five, I suddenly realized that I wanted to be a translator - I don't know what kind of urine hit my head. Parents asked if I wanted to become an astronaut, policeman, firefighter or superhero, like all the other children, but it was impossible to convince me.
At the age of six, I was sent to a very bad kindergarten in an equally bad area of St. Petersburg. There was an English section where we listened to all sorts of songs and learned words. From that moment on, I began to actively study English.
After school, I went to work as a translator and, as a rule, read comics in the original, because I simply could not find editions in Russian. Once I was scouring the Internet and found out that there is a whole community that translates comics, types them in Photoshop and puts them on the Web so that people can download them for free. It seemed to me that this is a very cool act of altruism, because you earn a maximum of 250 rubles from a minute of advertising, which the user must watch before downloading.
I realized that if I join this community, I can help people to join the culture.
I turned to the guys, showed several mistakes in previous translations and offered to help. For three years I have been translating and uploading works to one hosting, but then I decided to pay for my own website so that people do not have to watch ads. For a while, my colleagues and I translated and uploaded everything to the new site, and then we met and decided to create our own publishing house in order to officially print the issues and sell them. This is how the "", in which I work now, appeared.
How does Ramona differ from other publishing houses?
- We're not very smart and also pretty bad marketers, so we publish what we love ourselves. We do not have rights to large series, but there is a desire to acquaint the reader with the works that at one time changed our lives, as well as the lives of people from all over the world.
Our first comic - "" - about a squeezed social phobia who tries to get a job and find a girlfriend, but cannot: inside him there are many shackles that do not allow him to open up. This edition is very popular in Russia, and the fourth issue was among the ten best-selling comics in the CIS. It seems to me that the success lies in the fact that the hero is a rag doll: he is shapeless, so many people easily associate themselves with him.
As for my favorite comic, which we continue to publish, is "". Six out of nine volumes have now been published. It seems to me that when I publish it in full, I will say with complete confidence that I did the most important thing for the industry that I could. This comic has been translated into 14 languages and is known literally everywhere except Russia. Asking abroad whether you have read Bone is the same as asking a Russian whether he has read War and Peace or Crime and Punishment.
We publish every book with blood and sweat and work almost at a loss, but we continue, because our reader deserves an acquaintance with this legend.
Do you also translate for the Comilfo publishing house?
- Yes, for him I translate Marvel comics, as well as some alternative series. Comilfo knew that I had experience in translating comics, so they asked me to help with the release of Legendary Highlights and Their Real Life, and then also with Mordoboy, which I had already translated for my website. Over time, I got involved and I still translate for them.
To translate comics, you need a tremendous language skill. But is it necessary to have a translator's diploma?
- I studied at the St. Petersburg University of Culture and Arts and I can safely say that my diploma in translator helped me a lot in what I do. Here they gave me a base and taught me techniques that help every day. At the same time, I understand that there are people who can translate without a diploma. High-quality Russian and basic English are enough to do it quite well, but it's far from the fact that you can overcome the complex constructions that are in the original language.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
- If we highlight the difficulties in the translation itself, then this is a play on words, puns and slang. But the hardest part is the background. Once I translated the comic strip "Daredevil", whose artist was very fond of collage. He took pages from books, scattered them on the background and thereby created a kind of art object. It looks pretty, but I need to translate all this.
I sat over one of the pages for 24 hours, because he took some kind of legal reference book, pulled out an article about law and order from it, tore it up, mixed the pieces and threw them into the background. I cut these pieces all night and assembled them in another window like a mosaic. At some point, I realized that half of the pieces were unreadable, and almost despaired. I even wanted to buy this guide for $ 15 to find this page and translate. Fortunately, there was no need for this: I still understood the essence from those collected fragments.
Another complication is jokes. What is funny abroad is not always funny here. As an example, I always think of the Sex Criminals comic. One of the scenes takes place in a sex shop room. Everything would be fine if there was not a cabinet with films in the background, the name of each of which was a satire on the real. There were forty-seven in all, forty-seven little jokes, like "Miss Congenitality" instead of "Miss Congeniality".
The work was structured as follows: at first I tried to understand what kind of film it was, then I watched how it was translated in Russia, and then I added eroticism to the title.
It was fun - horror. I have learned so many synonyms for wonderful body parts!
By the way, a few years later the author of this comic, Chip Zdarski, came to Russia. We were sitting in a restaurant and I asked why he did this to me. He almost burst into tears of laughter as he listened to my story. It turned out that he did not even think that someone would notice these inscriptions, let alone translate them.
“I can't stop and translate until all capillaries explode in my eyes”: on the approach to work and life
Does the Ramona publishing house have a large team?
- We created a publishing house three of us: me, Timur Tagirov and Vova Ilgov. Before that, all together were engaged in scanlating - translations on the Web. Timur translates and designs comics, I proofread the style and proofread, and Vova does the layout.
Unfortunately, you can't join our team, as we publish unpopular things with a rather heterogeneous fanbase. We do not have the opportunity to take someone else, because we simply cannot delegate anything. Publications are not often published, so we do all the work ourselves and we still have a lot of time.
My advice to translators: subscribe to all publishers that publish comics in English and wait for them to announce a competition. The main thing is to do the test task with high quality. It sounds trite, but it is this that creates an impression of you, which will then follow you throughout your career in the industry. As soon as you have an opportunity to prove yourself, make a translation that will be unmatched.
How is your workday going?
- Most of the time is spent on translation - about ten hours a day. As a rule, I work at night because my head is not full and I can only concentrate on translation.
I go to bed at about five in the morning, wake up at ten and translate one episode. Then I check the comments on social media and go to the closed Facebook comic collectors group to stay tuned. Then I write some post on social networks, have lunch and translate another issue. In the evening, I write a script for a YouTube video or watch something short to clear my head, and then I go to bed with my laptop and translate again.
I've been working from home for four years now, and this is the most disgusting thing I've ever done.
Over time, you start to hate your life and everything in the world. It is very difficult when you do not share the place of work and rest. I do not know how to relax, so I often cannot stop and translate until all the capillaries in my eyes explode.
How do you organize yourself: keep a diary, use time management techniques or special applications?
- I have four time management applications on my computer, but I don't have enough time to fill them. The only thing I use is a stick called "Get up and translate", which is located right in my head.
At first, I was scribbling all day almost by the minute, and it helped a lot. I used the Calendars application on my phone, because it was synchronized with the calendar on my computer and it seemed to me that it was convenient. Periodically emergencies arose, due to which the whole day was shifted. It turned out to be inconvenient to correct the deadlines in the application, so now I set them myself mentally.
It is difficult for me to listen to music or watch movies when I am translating because it is all very distracting. I used to try to listen to jazz or lo-fi, but then I came across the Relax Melodies app. There is a starterpack with different music: birdsong, the sound of waterfalls and rain, a piano. Convenient when something is playing in the background, but does not attract too much attention.
What besides comics fascinates you now?
- I would really like to say that I do origami or something else, but, unfortunately or fortunately, comics are everything for me. I don't have enough time for anything, because I have to be aware of all the new products.
The only thing is that I watch all the Oscar-nominated films every year. This is a kind of challenge that allows you to throw in a dose of pop culture and find out how it made us happy this year. I used to listen to audiobooks, but then I realized that I have enough meaningful sentences in my work. Now I have replaced them with music and I want to listen to all the iconic albums over the past 40 years. If I understand that I need to dull my brain as much as possible, I cut in Overwatch and play it for about an hour.
Many comic book fans in Russia worry that this industry is undeveloped in our country. What do you think is the problem?
- Comics in Russia, on the contrary, are too highly developed, and this is the biggest problem. Our industry is a newborn child who has been crippled by the flu, cold and fever. The Russian industry has existed too little to produce such a large amount of materials. We went from two editions a month to dozens very quickly. There used to be three publishing houses, but now there are about eight of them, and each of them rivets something. The main problem today is market oversaturation.
We feel it in Ramona because we started out with Little Depressed Guy and bought it because there weren't that many comics. Now there are many competitors nearby. The industry does not die, but, on the contrary, catches fire, but burns too brightly. If the market does not burn, everything will be fine with us.
By the way, can you tell me how to read comics correctly?
“I think they'll kill me if I say," Top to bottom and left to right. " Comics are a storyboard of a movie with a script inside, a unique hybrid of visual and verbal. Unfortunately, many people still treat comics like ordinary picture books, but drawing is far from the main thing in them. A talented screenwriter can do something incredible with any visual. A good example is the comic strip "Sabrina", which was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize. There is the most simple drawing style, but such a text that after it you need to pump out. You just sit and try to comprehend what you read and how it affected you.
A person who reads comics doesn't need anything special. We don't re-read Queen's biography before going to Bohemian Rhapsody. Each edition is aimed at people who are holding the book for the first time. Many popular superhero series have an “Earlier in Series” insert that explains the essence. On the front pages of Spider-Man they always write: "Peter Parker is a schoolboy bitten by a radioactive spider." To plunge into the world of comics, you only need the desire to read, and it’s just that many people lack.
Life hacking from Ruslan Khubiev
I watch a lot of things, so I will name only what I liked from the last one:
- "The Amazing Mrs. Maisel" is a series about a woman who, standing at the broken trough of her family, decided to go to stand-up. Only now it is the end of the 1950s.
- "Making a Killer" is a great documentary series from Netflix. I advise everyone!
- "American Vandal" - the series makes fun of documentaries and documentaries Netflix, coming out on the same site. This is the main reason I liked it.
- “In a Better World” is a series about what awaits us after death. A good story about the philosophy of morality through the prism of a sitcom.
- "Arrival" because linguist is a linguist, as they say.
- "The Greatest Showman". With the simplest plot, this musical is screwed into my heart.
- La La Land. Puska in me loves musicals and jazz, so La La Land became a film that added melancholy to my tank: it made me laugh, cry and laugh again.
- Green Book. A kind and honest film that Hollywood hasn't released for a very long time. Of a similar kind, one can only recall the "Miss Daisy Chauffeur" of 1989.
- "The Centaur" by John Updike. I read the novel when I was a child, but it’s completely childish reading. It is crammed with allegories and metaphors that are difficult for a boy to split, but I was too curious and worked hard to figure it out.
- "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, a Gentleman" is a huge humorous novel by Lawrence Stern. Even, rather, an anti-novel. “Pouring water” is my vocation as a translator and humanist. This book is a perfect example of how to do this. In nine volumes, we are told about the life of Tristram, or rather about the five years of his life. In nine volumes! Read only if you have a lot of time.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a dystopia with an incredible syllable. Captured like nothing else.
- Instead of professional literature, I advise future translators only one thing - any text in English. Interact with him constantly: read, translate, and read again. And be sure to read the result of your work to other people. More often than not, we are not able to sensibly evaluate our creation.
Blogs and Websites
My friend and I run a newsgroup about comics, so most of the time I monitor Twitter accounts and sites like, and. I also constantly go to the group. They post information about various publications more often and faster than in other places.