Interview with John Wisnom

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Tachyon
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Interview with John Wisnom

Post by Tachyon » Thu May 26, 2005 4:30 am

Whoo hoo! Here it is:

Interview with John Wisnom (translator of Five Star Stories)

:arrow: How did you get involved in translating Five Star Stories?

A good friend, who was translating another Toys Press publication at the time, Cinefex, into Japanese, called me up one day and asked if I wanted to translate a manga. After we had a good laugh over the whole thing, I said I'd give it a try.

:arrow: Are there any tools or techniques you find helpful in your translation work?

Curiosity, a sense of humor and a great deal of humility. Most of the tools are out there, it's a matter of you exploiting them, not the other way around. The most important technique for a successful translation is, I think, to set up a cordial, convivial working relationship with the author, who is always the translator's best source of information. (What if the author's dead? Turn me on dead man….turn me on dead man….)

:arrow: Had you read the manga before you started translation?

I didn't even know that it existed.

:arrow: What are your favorite manga/comic titles (from Japan and/or anywhere else)?

The first comic, other than the "funny papers," I ever read was "Smokey Stover." Then there was the "Mad Magazine" phase, which changed my life and made it a lot more interesting. The first Japanese manga I read was recommended to me by a colleague at the research institute where we worked, "Ijiwaru Baasan" by Hasegawa Machiko, which led me to "Sazaesan." Another colleague then directed me to Shirato Sanpei's "Kamui-den," the world that I was really interested in at the time, the periphery of Japanese society, past and present. I've read Otsuka Osamu's work and of course enjoyed "Gakki Deka" "What's Michael?" and all the other wonderful gag comics. The last manga I read (besides FSS) was "Kasai no hito" by Mori Jinpachi (illus. Uoto? Osamu).

:arrow: What sort of work did you do before?

Does a mercenary have any choice?…Newsletters, X-ray machine operation manuals, Protestantism in China, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Pax-Americana and the Japanese welfare system…Come one, come all!!

:arrow: Of the 10 Japanese volumes of Five Star Stories, which was the easiest to translate? The most difficult? The most rewarding?

Easiest: The battle scenes…Not a lot going on there conversation-wise. "Roger-dodger" "10-4"
Most difficult: Dialogue the meaning of which even the author wasn't sure about. Oh yeah! Also his version of the Kyoto dialect.
Most rewarding? The bank transfers after the completion of each volume.

:arrow: What styles or ideas did you try to bring to the translation?

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I noticed the author's tendency towards verbosity and cynicism in the form of gag-like humor at the beginning and tried to adapt the translation to that sort of vein. The explanatory blurbs were modeled after "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"'s tongue-in-cheek obsession with objectivity.

:arrow: If there was a reprint and you were allowed to alter the translation, what would you do differently?

Get you all to help with it, of course. Tear it apart…Make it better…By the way, it has gone through three different printings so far and not one word has been changed.

:arrow: How do you feel about the extra sections in the beginning and end of the issues for the latest English edition?

I hope that they were both helpful and entertaining. By the way, I also translated a "reference guide" entitled "Twin Towers," only a portion of which (Jagd Mirage) appeared in those sections. The most interesting portion dealt with Dr. Ballanche and his digs.

:arrow: Which character is your favorite?

Spectre… Unfortunately, the character wasn't developed very well, in the sense that it could have been a very powerful vehicle for the "author's participation in the play." Instead, Nagano copped out for Ladios Sopp, i.e., the extent to which Amaterasu (Nagano) chose to get involved in the Joker world. I guess that works, too.

:arrow: What areas of the FSS universe would you like to see more of in future volumes of the manga?

I'll leave that up to you, the mania….er…experts…While feedback is not exactly one of the author's favorite inputs, I think that he is open to suggestions. The key to the success of FSS is character development, not just quantity, but quality. The question is "is Nagano up to it?"

:arrow: What are your thoughts on how the English language edition has been handled in North America?

This is just the translator talking here…The summaries of each volume that I meticulously? prepared were atrociously hacked up by the editors (stoners?) at Diamond Comics. I think that is symbolic of how it has been handled.

:arrow: Do you feel the English edition is marketed well in North America? What are some possible areas for improvement?

The translation was never planned to be "marketed" anywhere. It was to be a foreign language tribute to Nagano's work (ego), devil take hindmost in gross sales. Personally, I respect him for that and laughed all the way to bank, to boot.

:arrow: Do you have an interest in translating other manga titles in the future?

What do have in mind? "If you got the money, honey…I got the time." It's the Spectre in me, I suppose.

:arrow: What do you think of the large number of Japanese manga titles being made available in English in recent years?

It's probably a good thing, but I hope that they won't become like Toyotas and Walkmen for North Americans, devoid of the unique culture, both artistic and social, that created them.

:arrow: Do you have any closing comments for our readers?

I hope that Nagano would agree with me on at least the following points:

Here's a little story you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it's new
Make your own words up if you want to
Any old words that you think will do
Yellow, blue, what'll I do?
Maybe I'll just sit here thinking
Black, white, stop the fight,
Does one of these colors ever bother you?

Here's a little world you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it's new
Make your own life up if you want to
Any old life that you think will do
Love, yeah, it's nothing new,
There's someone much worse off than you are
Help me set them free,
Just be what you want to be
If you don't like the news then go make some of your own.

elemental

Post by elemental » Thu May 26, 2005 8:37 am

Interesting. Thanks for posting. That actually explains quite a lot regarding english FSS, and you can make of that what you will...

Where did this interview come from?

Lalasa

Post by Lalasa » Thu May 26, 2005 11:06 am

Tachyon wrote:Interview with John Wisnom (translator of Five Star Stories)

:arrow: What are your thoughts on how the English language edition has been handled in North America?

This is just the translator talking here…The summaries of each volume that I meticulously? prepared were atrociously hacked up by the editors (stoners?) at Diamond Comics. I think that is symbolic of how it has been handled.
:roll: Right. Blame the people at Diamond. He was the translater! Doesn't he have any professional pride? He could at least follow up on his work to see if the people in Diamond did hacked up anything, he could tell them that they're doing it wrong.

I have a very long b**** list of this guy's language molesting sins. (And yes, that was deliberate sarcasm.) But I won't write them down because no one probably feels the same way I do about it anyway.

S

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Post by Tachyon » Thu May 26, 2005 1:22 pm

John Wisnom stopped by the message board here and sent me a note. We chatted a bit and he agreed to an online interview.

Nu Soard and I asked him a few questions about FSS and he was really helpful.
If you don't like the news then go make some of your own.

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Post by hitori » Thu May 26, 2005 3:54 pm

Lalasa wrote::roll: Right. Blame the people at Diamond. He was the translater! Doesn't he have any professional pride? He could at least follow up on his work to see if the people in Diamond did hacked up anything, he could tell them that they're doing it wrong.
I have a fried who translates between Japanese-English professionally.
And he bitches a lot about this, too, especially about literary work he translated.

The translators are usually powerless when it comes to the final product.
They seldom are part of the publishing company and work on a job by job basis.
As soon as the translated manuscripts leave their hand, the editors and publishers may do whatever they need/want.

It's rare for the translators to even seek out a fan group reading his work like Mr. Wisnom did.

Thanks Fugu, Nu Soard and John Wisnom for your work!

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Post by junchoon » Fri May 27, 2005 1:33 am

<ranting deleted :) >

John Wisnom
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Post by John Wisnom » Sun May 29, 2005 2:32 pm

Lalasa wrote:
Tachyon wrote:Interview with John Wisnom (translator of Five Star Stories)

:arrow: What are your thoughts on how the English language edition has been handled in North America?

This is just the translator talking here…The summaries of each volume that I meticulously? prepared were atrociously hacked up by the editors (stoners?) at Diamond Comics. I think that is symbolic of how it has been handled.
:roll: Right. Blame the people at Diamond. He was the translater! Doesn't he have any professional pride? He could at least follow up on his work to see if the people in Diamond did hacked up anything, he could tell them that they're doing it wrong.

I have a very long b**** list of this guy's language molesting sins. (And yes, that was deliberate sarcasm.) But I won't write them down because no one probably feels the same way I do about it anyway.

S
I pointed the problem out to the people (Toys Press) who submitted the summaries (molested as they may have been, but at least grammatically correct) to Diamond. There was no response from the publisher.

I would like to read your b****list about my language molestations very much. I feel exactly the same way as you do about p*** poor translations. I still have much to learn.

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Post by Vincent Valentine » Tue Jun 07, 2005 3:58 am

John, I appreciate your work, as a Japanese illiterate person.

I also appreciate your time in this interview. .. I found it interesting, thank you.

Oh, and your honesty about the money as well.

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Post by happy hopping » Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:58 am

I hope that they were both helpful and entertaining. By the way, I also translated a "reference guide" entitled "Twin Towers," only a portion of which (Jagd Mirage) appeared in those sections. The most interesting portion dealt with Dr. Ballanche and his digs.
John, the ref. guide of Twin Tower, is it this one:

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/animedvd/4924930962.html

Moreover, is there any plan to translate Knight Flag and Smoke Wall?

Furthermore, does Nagano has any influence on Volks as to Volk's future choice sculpting certain FSS resin kits? The reason I said this is because a large no. of FSS resin builders have "misgiving" from Volks (and Work Shop Cast) because they continue to sculpt the same MH over and over again. Whereas some other MH, for e.g., Kan, was never sculpted in any static or dynamic pose.
If you buy a pet from pet stores , you are encouraging those breeders to breed more. This is the condition that they lives in:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu_JqNdp2As

when you buy a pet:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=WCNr-VrkXl8

Adopt a pet

errol

Post by errol » Tue Jun 07, 2005 2:44 pm

I just wanted to take the time to say thanks John. The interview was very insitefull. Explains alot of things. I also appreciate your sense of humor and honesty. Hopefully you will stick around Gears and give us some more juicy tidbits of information and possibly keep us posted on other FSS happenings. One question that I had specifically, and I don't know if you are at liberty to discuss though, have you translated FSS vol.11 yet? I was just wondering when we would be graced with its release. A million thanks again. Oh ya, DETROIT BASKETBALL!!!

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Post by KOG » Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:47 pm

happy hopping wrote:Furthermore, does Nagano has any influence on Volks as to Volk's future choice sculpting certain FSS resin kits? The reason I said this is because a large no. of FSS resin builders have "misgiving" from Volks (and Work Shop Cast) because they continue to sculpt the same MH over and over again. Whereas some other MH, for e.g., Kan, was never sculpted in any static or dynamic pose.
I seriously doubt John would have access to this information, since it has nothing to do with the translation business.

We have to remember that Volks and WSC are competitors, not allies in the FSS GK business. If Volks wants to release a Prominence and WSC wants to release a Prominence, that's there business, even if it seems like a foolish decision to us. And remember, some people ONLY collect Volks or ONLY collect WSC...

Now, as for the question about vol 11 being translated... that's a good one.

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The b**** list

Post by John Wisnom » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:22 am

Lalasa wrote:
Tachyon wrote:Interview with John Wisnom (translator of Five Star Stories)
I have a very long b**** list of this guy's language molesting sins. (And yes, that was deliberate sarcasm.) But I won't write them down because no one probably feels the same way I do about it anyway.

S
Still waiting for it, Love! As a matter of fact, why don't we open a thread called the Beech Leest, or Suezhou on the Loose, or some such foolishness...and get everyone's hopes and frustrations out in the open? Tell Johnny how he let you all down...Make him confess his sins...No the thread should be titled, The Inquisition! The Office of FSS Correctness..
I'm serious...You're the one who seems to disturbed about something...Get is off your chest (bosom?)

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