Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pet Peeves: Blank Translated Balloons

Translating texts from one language to another can be a tricky proposition, especially if you're in a mad rush to get the material out there with no regards for quality control.  Going back and double-checking to make sure that you've got the idioms, references and general dialogue makes sense to a general reading audience.

In other instances, you have a higher probability of having silly mistakes slip through your editorial process.  If you're totally focused on finding spelling mistakes, you're not going to notice the albino Gorilla in the room. That in the process of removing the foreign texts to replace them with English (or whatever translated language you're using), you might overlook entire swatches of totally blank balloons with no text in them.  "Let's see... misspelled that word, needs an apostrophe there... (sees blank space) Nope, no spelling mistakes there..."

Annoyingly enough, this instance of the Modern-day Jungle Businessman, Jérôme Moucherot (Jerome McAdam in Heavy Metal Magazine) by François Boucq and Delan, where the "Bengal Tiger" is being pranked by Elephant twins is continued onto the very next page.

This process would be understandable when removing the dialogue from the original balloons, but if you pay attention to the original, the laughter is left intact.  Otherwise, all you'd be left with is a perplexing space of white noise where there was once sound.  Sound effects are generally left well enough alone, since translating them is enough of a hassle already.  Why would they bother removing them in the first place and not have them replaced afterwards?

Another instance comes from Jacques Tardi's Bloody Streets of Paris.  In the original French text, we're treated to an astounding infodump of medical material regarding the study of amnesia.  French comics can be notoriously wordy at times, and this instance is no different.

However, this intimidating passage is gleamed over by a much more convenient shortcut - just remove the offending text, and hope nobody notices.

Normally, you'd probably pass over reading (let alone re-reading) the rather dry material, skimming over the pertinent parts, but not having it available feels somewhat like cheating.

In these previous examples, despite the removal of text, you were still more or less able to understand the general gist of what was going on.  However, the impractical aspect of removing ALL text so that they'll be more in line with the other translated texts can wind up with baffling consequences if they're not caught early on, such as in Cinebook's Spirou in Moscow.  In the following passage, for some reason, Spirou rips up some pieces of coloured papers, then without rhyme or reason, sticks them to Fantasio's head, monologuing his rationale the whole while.

This perplexing exchange only begins to make sense if we compare and contrast this scenario against an unofficial scanlation that, despite being low-quality and borderline illegal, still manages to be more coherent than the officially licensed version.  It also helps if you know that Fantasio has a opportunistic power-seeking cousin named Zantafio.

When I do my occasional scanlations, I always make sure to have the original physical copy on hand so that if I wind up erasing the whole text, I'll at least have a backup I can rely on.  Also, going between the bastardized translation and the original text gives me a better chance of using lines that'll reflect not only what's being said, but also support what's being shown in the comic panel.  If there's a discrepancy, I can make sure that the mistake is corrected beforehand.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Testing... Testing...

I've been neglecting doing any potential blog entries, because I've been captivated by the biggest Reality Show taking place via the illusion of the Presidential Election.  They've whittled away the competition down to the last two holdouts, and the stakes have never been higher.  At some point, I should compile the amusing commentaries I've made on social media (with accompanying links to explain their relevance) But the sheer amount of material available had very little for me to give any relevant feedback.  Like Trump's outrageous comments, one scandal simply spills over to the next.  And this wasn't made any easier with running Republican Vice President Pence's permission to let Trump go ahead and speak his mind.  Trump truly took these words to heart, feeling that he was now finally freed from the confining restraints of the Republican Party, despite all evidence that he was doing whatever he felt like.  That meant that up to this point, we'd been dealing with the calm and rational Donald Trump.

At this point, the prospect of a Trump victory is looking more and more to be a fantasy.  The only question is how many more people is he going to drag down kicking and screaming in his death spiral?  If you want an idea of where your politician's true values lie, just remember after putting up token resistance, who cozied up to a man who enjoys pushing people around.  Because, let's not bandy words about - Trump's natural state is a bully who likes to pick on opponents who can't fight back.  Since he's not finding any success at intimidating Hillary, he's going after weaker targets, who won't strike back, like Republicans or Beauty Contestants.  Hardly the kind of temperament who'd stand up against Vladmir Putin.

His usual strategy of intimidating his opponents by sheer bluster and insult isn't working against a candidate who isn't willing to treat him with kid gloves, and knows all his triggers and weak points.  And none of his usual blustering tactics are having any effect.  There was also his attitude at the end of the first debate where Trump thought his microphone wasn't working - Hillary kept ignoring his mansplaining interruptions.

Like The Hulk, whose a force of unspeakable rage, who is constantly hounded by puny Bruce Banner, Trump's biggest enemy isn't Hillary or the GOP, but Trump is his own worst enemy.  There's been so many instances where Trump could've benefited from having Hillary face media scrutiny.  Only, he's so vain and egotistical, he can't stand the idea of having attention diverted away from him onto her.  So he doubles down on spouting insane rhetoric in the hopes that it'll draw the cameras away from the dull woman back onto the media spectacle, HIM.  Whether it's wondering out loud why women don't go complaining to Obama about his infidelities, to threatening to jail Clinton, to blaming the "international bankers", to casting rumours about potential voter fraud.  (to avoid looking like a loser when he doesn't win).

Adding to Trump's long list of grievances, he's upset that his spur-of-the-moment un-PC quotes have been used for Clinton Attack Ads, Taken Totally Out of Context.  No, wait, their message are just the same as they sound IN context.

For a while, it looked like Trump would want to bow out of doing the Third Debate after having abysmally lousy and declining approval ratings, despite all his internal convictions that he did perfectly well with no prep whatsoever.  But, like the proverbial forced trilogy that milks the series popularity, rather than stopping while they were ahead, Trump decided not to pass up the chance to appeal to an ever-increasing audience and let Clinton steal the spotlight away from her.  (Good thing too, since Clinton's approval ratings only go down when Trump's not calling attention to himself)  After the hilarious meltdown of the first debate and rather lukewarm second debate, the third can only be a mix of the first two.

It wasn't until recently that he challenged Clinton to a drug test for controlled substances that I recalled a similar comic run I could tie this latest bout of insanity to.  Like Duke's run for Presidency, chalk this up as another parallel to the Trump campaign without actually referencing the man.

The only way this cunning strategy could possibly backfire is if Trump was asked to do some drug testing of his own, which could show him being overly dosed with multiple over and under-the-counter medications.  Which wouldn't be entirely out of place, considering his acting like a dope fiend during the last debate.  Besides stalking behind Clinton, wandering around the stage and clutching his chair in an attempt to stay conscious, he was also sniffing like a coke addict with allergies.  Most people took his actions at face value, while others paid closer attention, and observed the pattern that, like a politician whose lips move, Trump lies whenever he sniffs.

But then, strategy has never been Trump's strong suit.  In an attempt to take down Hillary's weak points, Trump started off by accusing Hillary of having the same kind of infidelities as her hubby, because the sins of the Prez are visited upon the wife, or some such nonsense.  All while forgetting that he wouldn't be exempt from his hypocrisy for HIS affairs with his to-be wives.  Interesting that all the so-called admirable traits Trump fosters about Hillary, "She's a cheater, a Liar, a Robber, she knows Nothing, Can't be Trusted", are more applicable to himself.  He's basically projecting at this point.

When Trump took the low blow route of accusing Hillary of having an affair, it sparked an as-yet unconfirmed conspiracy in my head, not seen elsewhere.  As you know, there's the theory bandied about that Trump is a Clinton plant, designed to breed dissent and distrust from inside the GOP, breaking the old-boy's club mentality.  That's because years ago, Trump & the Clintons were once close friends.  So much that Trump once recommended Hillary for President.  (How times change...)

Thing is, if Trump ISN'T a plant, what would he be doing differently than what he's already doing now??
Though most of his actions have bordered on the incomprehensible and unbelievable.  He goes above and beyond the call of saboteurs where rational decency & logic would demand they stop.  But then, Trump isn't most people.  If this election were an airplane paperback, the premise would be thrown out for being too implausible.  My theory was that Trump was so confident that Hillary had an affair (not because rich & powerful people are an aphrodisiac, of which he's a prime example) but because he & Hillary had an affair themselves.  If true, the whole election would be a lover's spat on the world stage, the likes of which have never been seen.  I could only imagine the argument going something like this:
Trump: You had an affair with me, and you know it!
Hillary: (Smugly) Prove it.
Trump: All the evidence is right there in your deleted 33,000 emails!
Hillary: Release your tax forms first, and I might decide on it.  Might.
The only flaw with this theory is that Trump prefers going out with women his daughter's age, and wouldn't bother cheating with anyone who's less than a 10.  Though walking into women's dressing rooms or talking about grabbing their private parts is fair game.  After all, they're ranked 9 or less, and not worthy of his gaze.
"See, there are all these videorecordings where I DIDN'T assault them. I just gazed lovingly at their attractive forms, trying to best figure how to make them look better. They could use some breast implants, they could stand to lose some weight. At no time do you see me grabbing them by the pussy, no matter how much I wanted to."
So far, apart from telling voters to look up a porn video that didn't exist, Trump has appeared in more Playboy videos (Fully clothed, not like the naked statues) than any other candidate.  And this wasn't helped any by his disparaging comments about wanting to grab women by the crotch, which he put down to typical Locker Room Talk.  And yet, despite these atrocities, he still has support of his loyal fans from respectable institutions such as the Catholic Church, promoting their values.

Man 1: "Man, that's a real fine piece of Ass! I wouldn't mind taking her forcibly against her will, thrashing her in every room in the house, having her crying in tears all the while!"
Man 2: "Dude, she's Six Months Old."
Man 1: "What are you getting all offended about? You should feel complimented that you've got a daughter worth banging!"
One of the widest miscomprehensions is that this election is a contest between two underdogs.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Trump isn't interested in fighting for the common man.  His interests don't extend beyond establishing his (now tarnished) brand.  Trump isn't the underdog in this scenario - Hillary is.  She's faced countless scrutiny from opponents on both sides of the political divide for daring to speak her mind, and been vilified in all kinds of ways, from her opinions on the issues to the way she dresses.  No matter what she says, even if somebody agrees with it, they'll argue until they're blue in the face and try to convince others why she's in the wrong.  Chances are, if she'd been born a man, she wouldn't have to deal with all this hypocrisy.  (There'd also be the unfortunate relationship with Bill Clinton, but that's a hypothetical scenario not worth exploring)
"But... who'd play the part of the intern in this remake?"
The thing is, Trump doesn't really work either as an Anti-hero or an Anti-Villain. He has no self-awareness for that. He's more like a Thermonuclear Strawman. A vast venerable collection of all the worst humanity has to offer bundled up in a convenient package.

I suspect sometime in the years to come, after all this madness has died off, and the volunteers for the Trump campaign have released their tell-all stories behind the scenes (which'd be on the best-seller list for months) we'd be treated to a new genre of novels where scrupulous politicians seek to convince an over-the-hill business celebrity to go over to their opponent's side with the intent of sabotaging them, only for said celebrity to wind up succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, and being unable to pull them out once they've done their job.  The first title will probably be, "The Plant."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Designated Survivor Barely Hanging On

In the vast TV wasteland of potential attention-grabbers, there's the recent political TV show Designated Survivor, starring Kieffer Sutherland, of 24, better known as The Jack Bauer Power Hour, where he'd get into increasingly convoluted terrorist plots to save the President.  Only, this time, instead of protecting President Obama - er, Palmer, HE'S now occupying the role of the highest position in the land, and all the pressures and responsibilities that entails.  One of the faults of 24 was that, for all it's ambition of showing the minutiae of foiling massive thought-out terrorist plots laden with contingencies, the writers had no clear logical path towards their conclusions at the end of the action-packed day, and basically just wrote as they were going along.  (I found it a shame that Sherri Palmer was killed off too early)

Just as Tom Kirkman is facing the looming threat of being shuffled off from his perfunctory position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a mysterious explosion at the Capitol renders his job relocation moot as well as the convenience of killing off all his political rivals.  But that's not the true mark of democracy.  You win an argument when you've made your point succinctly to the opposing side in the hopes of winning them over, not by having them knocked off by forces unforeseen.

If there's a glaring fault, it's that Designated Survivor telegraphs all its punches too easily.  You can practically see the impacts coming, which weakens their shots, which should be emotionally draining.
His wife reassures his shot down proposal by saying, "Well, you're not President of the United States," and then he is.  A speechwriter lays his lack of confidence in the sudden replacement to the man in the next stall... who just so happens to be the replacement President.  Who then instantly recruits him to write his next speech.  A zealous army general is making rumblings of wanting the sitting President to become more hawkish in times of turmoil, and actively seeks ways to change his mind, or replace him entirely, during a time when tensions are already running high.  The populace had already lost the majority of their electorates - forcibly changing the replacement wouldn't ease their worries much.

And the constant comparisons of the attack on Capitol Hill to 9/11 are annoying enough.  There's a capitol bombing, we get it.  Accept it and move on from there.

Then there's how Tom Kirkman approaches the position of President.  The premise that I got from an early article was that the script would focus on wanting nothing more than to pass on the role of President, and find ways to get out of doing his duty.
"This guy doesn't even want this job," said Sutherland. "Literally, through the first five episodes he's trying to find an exit."
But so far, that hasn't happened yet.  Tom Kirkman is still managing to reluctantly hold his own, even in the face of outright resistance.  If there was any sign of seeking an out, it hasn't been explored.  They've devoted more time to family squabbles and recapping themselves over the fact that their lives have changed forever™.  Further compounding the show's faults is the lack of mental or intellectual stimulation.  Apart from dealing with internal infighting and indulging in political trickery with troublesome politicians, there hasn't really been anything of substantial worth.  It's an amusing sideshow diversion, but not really considered binge-worthy.

All I could think of was that the premise sounded very reminiscent of a Frank Miller's satirical comics of Martha Washington; Give Me Liberty.  Frank Miller has been attacked for his recent comic output, but back then, he was one of the leading innovators of the field, and Give Me Liberty ranks among his strongest and best.  It helps that it's drawn by Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame, who's more suited for showing moments of humanized facial expressions that are more varied than Frank's limited macho style.

In there, a low-ranking politician in a lowly cabinet position, Howard Nissen, suddenly finds himself thrust into the higher role of Sitting President, which he is vastly unprepared for.  In no time at all, he manages to rework the system to his liking, finding favorable solutions to the issues of the day, rerouting armies towards more suitable areas worth defending.

Unfortunately, that youthful idealism is undermined later during his term when he has to deal with political upheaval from both sides who've grown unsatisfied with him being in charge.  Amidst the internal squabbling of a staff that can't agree on which positions to take, Nissen starts indulging heavily in drink.  And that's even with how great things are going. There's just no pleasing some people.

We're never explicitly shown the criticism or reasons for the sudden blowback, but it shouldn't be considered too much of a stretch.  Every politician winds up being unpopular at one point of another, regardless of their efficiency.  And the position of President, for all it's lofty glory, can be an emotionally draining position.  Before and After photos of candidates show how haggard and aged they've become even during brief intervals of just four years.  Their hair becomes whiter, their skin droopier, and their overall demeanor becomes more exhausted.

One thing that Cerebus lamented about his role as Prime Minister was that the people under his charge would constantly second-guess his decisions, trying to weave their influence into him.  According to his rationale, the people chose him, so he should make the hard decisions.  If his advisors wanted somebody else to make their choices, shouldn't the populace have chosen them instead?

Curiously enough, in this pre-9/11 world of Martha Washington, the new President makes no move to retaliate against the terrorist force that suddenly plunged him into the rapid promotion he got.  (Though, 67
separate organizations claiming responsibility would make narrowing who was responsible somewhat difficult)  Rather, real chaos erupts after the replacement President (and rebellious staff) is caught in another insider explosion.  Only, this causes the country itself to become further fragmented and divided, seceding several states in the process.

Shifting attention back to the premise of Designated Survivor, it's a study in contrasts.  When the Capitol is bombed, an investigation is already underway to find out who's responsible.  The lack of credit puts strains the credulity of a lone investigator who figures this attack is just the start of something bigger.  There's reluctance to openly blame the first obvious choice, based on the scant evidence available.

Once there was a hacking done to leave a single video claiming credit for the attack, I immediately grew suspicious.  After much hemming and hawing over who to blame, a decidedly helpful shadowy source decides to help out by leaving evidence of who was responsible?  Questions could've been raised asking why this video wouldn't raise confirmations of responsibility.  I could think of three:

1.  Consider the source.  The video came only after someone mysteriously hacked into the White House, leaving all other records untouched.  Considering the damage they could've done, it seems like a lot of effort to just deliver this message on their doorstep, when any other method of communication could've done the job easier.  Not to mention that the supposed terrorists in charge chose doing this, rather than instantly taking credit upon detonation, when it would've been more effective.  And from an organization whose computer skills could be considered dubious at best.

2.  The Terrorist leader's words were so superficial and non-specific to allude to any definite information that could connect with the attack.  There's no details mentioned, no words said that could differentiate from any other attack carried out elsewhere, no timestamps to signify that this wasn't taken months ago, and alluding to anything else.  It was a boilerplate announcement intended to intimidate others through a form speech.

3.  Strange that this helpful piece of information should just happen to turn up while the new President is remaining steadfast not to move on until there's 100% certainty of who's responsible.  It's one thing if niche organizations take credit for random bombings they had no business with, piggybacking on the success of others.  But there was NO ONE taking credit for the Capitol Hill bombing.  It's almost as if someone wanted to draw attention back towards the most obvious choice.  If it WAS an inside job, then whoever's in charge is utilizing vast amounts of resources to convince the remaining leaders in charge to divert their energies towards an incendiary target.  Seeking a way to further fragment an already fragmented country.
Sadly, neither of these arguments were made in the process.  It's a sad thing when I have three thoughts when one is barely explored.  It's a wish fulfillment fantasy made in hindsight, that we didn't instigate the invasion in Iraq based on the flimsy premise of stockpiled weapons and a tenuous connection between the actual perpetrators and those the people in charge wanted to punish for past grievances.  If only we'd had somebody in charge to see past the glaring obvious holes in logic, we could've avoided this whole mess...

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Secret Haunt

This month's allotment of not-Far Side Cow ads is easier than previous entries, since not many of them have captions in them.
The one ad that does have text is rather self-explanatory in itself:
Why should I??
After all...
'Tis naught but a birthmark!! 
The other exception being this comic below:
...which I scanlated for someone else a long time ago.  I would've done the others, but was too lazy to get around to doing it.
Last but not least is what I consider to be the definitive of Paul Brazeau's Milk Ads.
In closing, the penultimate of the UFO Labatt Bleue beer ads.