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No. 481: ガーフィールド

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Permanent URL: https://mezzacotta.net/garfield/?comic=481

Strip by: David Morgan-Mar

ジョン: 始めまして。僕は漫画家のジョン アーバックルです。こいつは僕の猫ガーフィールドです。
ガーフィールド: やぁ、猫のガーフィールドだぜ!奴は俺の漫画家、ジョンだよ。
ジョン: 僕たちは読者を楽しませる事だけを考えています。
ガーフィールド: 何か食わせろ・・・

The author writes:

Although this was my idea, I used the help of the Japanese language club at my work. Translation was a group effort by: Kevin Moore, Motoko Kono, Stuart Perry, Jumpei Ashida, and George Politis.

There were several issues to consider in converting the first Garfield strip to Japanese. I wanted to copy the manga format as closely as possible, while sticking with the original artwork, thus forming a sort of dual with Manga Garfield.

That meant flipping the comic right to left, so the text would be read from right to left. This raised the question of whether to (a) flip the entire image, so that each frame is mirror-imaged, or (b) rearrange the order of the frames without mirroring them. After some consultation with Stuart, I realised that right-to-left reading also implies that speech bubbles are ordered from right to left. Since Jon and Garfield both speak in the last panel, this necessitated that Garfield appear to the left of Jon. In fact, Stuart supplied an incisive analysis, pointing out that by far the most common arrangement of Jon and Garfield is to have Jon on the left and Garfield on the right side of the panel, since this facilitates dialogue in which Garfield gets the last word. He then went on to conclude that if Garfield had been written in Japanese originally, it would show a strong preference for Garfield to be on the left and Jon on the right. Realising this, it was an easy decision to flip the entire strip to make it so.

The next question was whether to write the Japanese text horizontally or vertically. As soon as I learnt that traditional manga uses vertical columns of script, the decision became obvious. Unfortunately this caused problems with the font size and line breaking that had to be made to squeeze the text in. Stuart began quoting me extensive rules on how to line-break Japanese text, but I short-circuited this by simply asking him to mark every place where the text could be broken. The resulting restrictions produced the rather ragged text in Jon's opening speech bubble.

Stuart also supplies a translation note for this comic:

In Japanese there are various levels of politeness, reflected primarily in different verb forms and in a few select words (for example "I", "you" and "he/she"). Although in English Garfield's comment in panel 2 uses virtually the same words as Jon's opening comment, Jon's comment was much easier to translate. He speaks in fairly basic casual, polite Japanese. We decided during translation that this kind of speech would not really suit Garfield. In Japanese it would imply that Garfield was polite and friendly, whereas we imagined him as much more casual and dismissive of Jon. Hence in the translation, Garfield uses different, more colloquial, verbs and refers to Jon in a condescending manner.

Original strip: 1978-06-19.