MAKING OF AKIRA THE EPIC COMIC PART II - SCRIPTING
scripting of the Epic version of Akira requires a detailed translation and
westernization process involving approval by two separate companies and a
number of individuals.
Epic Comics first receives the English translation of
Akira in volumes,
each of the five Japanese volumes is 280 to 400 pages each. Epic is sent the
translations of the volumes one at a time, as each is completed. Kodansha's
translators. Yoko Umezawa and Linda M. York translate the Japanese to literal,
straightforward English. The Kodansha volumes have been divided into 64-page
Epic editions by former Akira editor Archie Goodwin. Each edition's
translation, a long with a copy of t he issue's artwork is then sent to Jo
Jo Duffy then "Americanizes" the script. The direct literal
translation is often stiff and the flow of the script , although fine in
Japanese changes entirely when translated.
"An idea that takes three words
in Japanese," says Duffy "may take 10 or 20 words in English.
because of the length of the Epic issues characters must be re-introduced every
64 pages. American readers should be able to pick up any issue of t he series
and identify the main characters within the first few pages.
completes the script with careful attention to the onomatopoeia of sound
effects and an even flow of language. She tries to Americanize Akira without
taking away from the Japanese elements.
her script, Duffy then marks the places on the artwork where the word balloons
should go. The script is sent to the Epic offices where editor Margaret Clark
checks it before sending to the staff of Kodansha in Tokyo for approval. Epic
receives the Duffy script back from Kodansha, complete with changes and
corrections. The complete script, along with the balloon placements is then sent
to Michael Higgins for lettering. Higgins draws in new balloons according to
the balloon placements he receives from Duffy, and then letters all of the
balloons as indicated by the script. Akira is unlike most comics in that some
word balloons already exist, and he must draw the new balloons to fit with
those drawn by Otomo.
a question of balancing the American balloons with the Japanese,"
Higgins returns the lettering to Epic, the lettering and the proofs of the
original artwork (see article in Akira #13 on "mirror proofs") go into
the Marvel "Bullpen" for production. The Bullpenners carefully cut
out the word balloons and paste them to the artwork according to Jo Duffy's
balloon placements. A copy of the finished artwork with word balloons is then
sent once again, to Kodansha for corrections.
The copy is returned to Epic with corrections.
Common problems include word balloon pointers that indicate that the wrong
character is speaking, incorrect words or letters, and the occasional word
balloon that should have been filled in with artwork before the proofs were made.
Periodically, we encounter problems involving reversal, meaning that during the
process of making "mirror proofs", a panel or part of a panel was
reversed when it should not have been. Finally, when all of the corrections
have been made and the staffs of Epic Comics and Kodansha, are satisfied, the
black and white artwork is sent to Steve Oliff
and Olyoptics for the coloring process.