I was reading the Fantagraphics collection of Zanardi by Andrea Pazienza tonight (it’s not very good; it’s like the stuff you’d stumble upon in European underground magazines in the 80s and be amused by for a couple of pages before you’d get annoyed by the incoherence and bored by the boorish humour and skimmed the last ten pages: Only here it’s a 230 page book and the tedium is unbearable (the only review I could find of this book is more positive), but at least you can play “spot the artist Pazienza’s ripping off on this page: Ah, Caza, yes, Moebius, and now it’s Spain, and huh, two random panels by Montellier, so it’s got that going for it).

But that’s not what I wanted to write about at all! I wanted to write about footnotes, and especially footnotes when doing a translation of an older work.

Yes, mentioning that those names belong to soccer players makes some sense.

And it’s an old work, so I guess pointing out what C.H.I.P.S. is makes sense.  To an American audience, though?

And, sure, pointing out that Frigidaire…

… is the magazine that this very strip appears in is more than fine; it brings additional understanding and depth to the piece.

But since the original work was Italian, is…

… translating Latin proverbs and explaining them within a reasonable remit of a footnote? Perhaps?

When a character randomly mentions an Italian city, is that the right place to point out that’s where the artist studied?

And then we get to the “how stupid does the translator (or footnoter) think that Americans are?” department.

The answer:

Really, really, stupid.

* Footnotes pull you out of what you’re reading and makes your eyes skip up and down and are a general nuisance. Putting shovelfuls of them into books like this is disrespectful to the work.

Of course, the work in question sucks, so, eh, whatevs. FORGET I WROTE THIS BLOG ARTICLE!

4 thoughts on “Footnotes*”

  1. I read this book quite recently too and also noticed how stupid some of the footnotes were. But did you really think this book sucked? I found the art in the colored stories to be extremely good and nice looking. And his playfulnes with different styles for different stories (sometimes even drawing the characters in different styles in the same story) was something I was very fond of. It lacked in quality storywise though but I wasn’t excpecting any masterpiece, just your typical underground comic. Or maybe I’m just being in denial here because I don’t want to admit that I wasted money on something that wasn’t good. A sidenote is that one of Pazienza’s comics was one of the comics that almost sent swedish publisher Horst Schröder to jail in the late 80’s.

    1. I may have overstated how much I disliked Pazienza’s work. It just seemed like the archetypal random work from a random European 80s anthology. On the other hand, perhaps not: I just re-read everything I wrote and I find that I agree totally. 🙂

      That said, I’ve been planning to buy a complete set of Pox, which is where I guess is where Horst Schröder was running these comics? The next time I’m in Sweden I’m going to visit a used comics store and go mad buying 80s anthologies.

      1. Yes, it was in Pox. I have an almost complete set of that title. I just need three issues from 1992 which are very hard to come by since by then, most shops had boycotted it due to the drama surrounding the trial and all so not many issues from 1991-1992 are in circulation. I’ve found two of them for sale online now but waaay too expensive for me. Pox is the best swedish comix anthology ever in my opinion. Maybe because they had so much good stuff from all around the world unlike their competitor Galago which mostly published swedish stuff. All of Horst’s titles had a very high quality though Pox is my (and Horst himselfs) favorite. There was recently a podcast with Horst about the trial and his publishing empire (which he never made any money of, only made himself poorer and in debt). It’s here if you’re interested and if you’ve got no trouble listening to swedish with a german accent for 84 minutes.

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