Reading Comics with Ears

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: Booth 57
Oral Presentation
Mikako HATA , Hanazono University, Japan
Comics is an art form of visual storytelling, which means a page of comics cannot be reduced to texts in speech ballons and narration boxes. Facial expressions of characters, onomatopoeia, emanata, and even gutters convey meanings non-verbally. Reading comics is mostly an experience of looking at and interpreting visual images drawn on a page.

Based on this understanding of comics, this paper investigates comics for people with visual impariment. Recently some volunteer groups in Japan have made speech translation of comics catering for visually challenged people. Although translating images to voice information has been already practiced on speech translation of films, in comics-to-speech translation it is necessary to bring not only characters' behaviours and their situations but also signs used in panels, as mentioned above, to speech. Also, bacause comics literacy of the readers (listeners) differs, what they want in reading experience is not the same; some know comics as an art form from their former reading experiences and thus want to read comics as comics, while others have never seen pages and want comics as entertainment-oriented stories , in other words they are not so interested in the visual aspects such as the layout in a page. Translators try to grant these requests as far as they can, and at the same time, give sufficient consideration to authors too, not to spoil what authors place importance in their art works.
The focal points of this paper are both on translators' experiences of reproducing comics with oral language and on readers' experiences of reading comics with ears. This paper describes how comics communicate with readers without using images, via translators' modest intervention, and examines what for people read comics.