Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett revisits the topic of translated comics, then talks about recent Marvel and DC animation.
Last week, I commented on Humanoids springing for a new translation for an upcoming edition of Barbarella (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Watch This") then wished more publishers would do the same.  It has come to my attention publishers like First Second, Fantagraphics, NBM, and Lerner do in fact provide new translations and lettering for their European comics.  I knew from previous experience Cinebook did.  I particularly enjoyed The Marsupilami Thieves, latest in their Spirou and Fantasio series partially because of the translation, which made me feel like I was reading the original.  It was also chronologically the earliest volume they've done to date, and features work by the strip's long-time artist Andre Franquin--it was my first exposure to his art and it make me understand why the strip was so popular for so long.
And of course I should have mentioned the output of Papercutz.  I'm on record as being a fan of their Benny Breakiron series by Peyo and Willie Maltaite, (see "Review: 'Benny Breakiron #1: The Red Taxis' HC").  But they also publish a lot of other European comics which include The Smurfs, Disney Fairies, Dance Class, Ernest & Rebecca, Geronimo Stilton, Sybil the Backpack Fairy, etc.  I'm Facebook friends with Papercutz editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup, he read last week's Confessions and was good enough to walk me through exactly how the translation process works.  After he did I feel like I finally have a proper appreciation of just how much work goes into adapting a European comic for the American market.

Papercutz' principal translators are E. Joe Johnson, Professor of French and Spanish and chair of the Department of Humanities at Clayton State, who handles most of the French translations; and Nanette McGuinness translates the Italian comics.  Along with proofreading their translations, Jim (in his own words) "mucks around" with the language, making tweaks and improvements when necessary.  Like in The Smurfs, Jim will keep things closer to the Peyo so Grouchy Smurf will say something like "Me, I don't like translations," instead of "I hate translations."
Along with being good translations, Papercutz graphic novels are just good comics for everyone, kids especially.  They're exactly the kind of new reader breeders that our industry needs, but that doesn't get nearly enough press or shelf space in most shops.  I'm not saying that they'll be bestsellers for you, but I do know they can be surprisingly steady sellers; for example, The Smurfs does particularly well for Super-Fly Comics & Games.
Turning back to the subject of cartoons, last week I saw two dueling animated interpretations of the Justice League.  First up was the all-ages, direct to video, Target exclusive JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, which as you might imagine from the cover art is DC's "New 52" by way of the Super Friends.  It mostly works, partially because the goofy comedy is kept to a bare minimum, though the sequence where the time travelling heroes and villains play a protracted game of keep-away with baby Kal-El is painful to watch.  But also because instead of making the adult heroes act like stupid kids, as they so often do in the current spate of Disney XD Marvel shows, they had actual kids (Robin, Karate Kid and a completely covered up Dawnstar) to do all of the goofing off and screwing up.
Then there's its polar opposite, Justice League: War, a PG-13 adaptation of 2011's Justice League: Origins comic.  A lot of DC's previous direct to video animated movies have suffered from too much static exposition, but that isn’t the case here; the characters and situations are efficiently set up and after that it's pretty much nonstop action.  Here the humor is limited to some hit or miss wisecracks, and a sequence involving Wonder Woman and her lasso of truth, which establishes she should use it a lot more often.  Especially when she’s in Washington D.C.
Last week I said my goodbyes (for the moment anyway) to one of my favorite Marvel Universe characters, Uatu the Watcher (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Watch This").  Well by some strange coincidence he made an appearance on the latest episode of Disney XD's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., "The Trouble with Machines."  I won't bore you with the actual plot (it certainly bored me; the team's jet gets mad at them for repeatedly destroying it and tries to destroy them back) because the only thing worthy of note happens at the very end.  It's an animated recreation of the pivotal scene from Hulk #4 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, when the Red Hulk coldcocks The Watcher for, you know, being such a smartalec, know-it-all nerd.  Big fat stupid nerd, standing there, knowing things; he totally had it coming.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of