[CFP] Reimagining Comics: The Translation and Localization of Visual Narratives

Special issue of inTRAlinea (2023), guest edited by Michał Borodo (Kazimierz Wielki University, Poland)

The translation of comics used to be an overlooked and under-investigated area within Translation Studies but has more recently become an inspiring field of academic enquiry thanks to such publications as Klaus Kaindl’s ‘Thump, Whizz, Poom: A Framework for the Study of Comics under Translation’ (1999) and ‘Multimodality in the Translation of Humour in Comics’ (2004) or Federico Zanettin’s edited volume Comics in Translation (2008) and ‘Visual Adaptation in Translated Comics’ (2014), among others. The present issue of inTRAlinea is an attempt to build on these important publications and to shed new light on the translation of comic strips, comic books and graphic novels in a variety of contexts. Approaches include localization, multimodality, graphic modifications, textual transformations, various publishing and marketing adjustments of comics to new audiences, as well as fan scanlation projects.

It is assumed after Zanettin (2008) that translated comics may be analysed within a localization framework as they are often republished as updated, repackaged, redesigned ‘products’ adjusted to different cultural conventions or age groups at different moments in time. Similar to software localization, the translation of comics may involve not only the translation of textual content but also the transformation of non-textual, graphic content. Comics translation may not simply involve the insertion of text into a pre-existing matrix of panels and speech balloons, but may involve modifying colours, panels, images, icons, speech balloons, font size and lettering, the reading direction, book covers, paratexts and formats.

What is also significant from the point of view of translation is the fact that the verbal and the visual modes interact and both contribute to the creation of meaning on a comic book page (Borodo 2015). As in subtitling, the visual can thus play an auxiliary role in translation (Borodo 2016) as some meanings in the original text may also be simultaneously communicated by images. This meaning overlap between words and images may be exploited by the translator and potentially lead to textual condensation and lower textual density in speech balloons. Textual density can, however, also be related to other factors such as different cultural conventions, the cultural status of comics in a given context or the fact that comics may be addressed to a new and diversely conceptualized audience.

It is thus assumed that the translation and localization of comics is a complex linguistic, but also visual, technical, cultural, publishing and marketing process that is referred to in this issue as ‘reimagining comics’ – an umbrella concept which encapsulates transforming the textual, adapting the visual and redesigning comics for new audiences. Be it a digitally distributed scanlation of Japanese manga, a Franco-Belgian comic book album translated for a new audience, Argentinian comic strips published in the format of comic books in Eastern Europe, a localized version of an American superhero narrative, or even a glocal retelling such as Spiderman India or Egyptian Zein the Last Pharaoh – ‘reimagining comics’ by different cultural agents behind the translation and publication process lies at the heart of all such translation enterprises.


Submissions of papers are invited in, but not limited to, the following topics:

– Comic books, comic strips and graphic novels in translation

– Franco-Belgian BDs in translation

– The translation of American comics

– The translation of Japanese manga

– Comics translation in Central and Eastern Europe

– Scanlation, fandom translation initiatives

– The translation of e-comics

– Graphic transformations in comics

– Comics translation as a form of localization 

– The verbal-visual relationship in translated comics

– The history of comics translation

– Ideology and censorship in translated comics

– Marketing and publishing strategies across cultures

– Glocal retellings of globally distributed comics


Submitting proposals:

To submit a paper, please send your abstract proposal (300 words, excluding references) and a short biosketch as a Word document by email to michal.borodo@ukw.edu.pl by 15 September 2021. Full articles (between 7,000 and 8,000 words, including references) should be submitted before 31 July 2022. Following the peer-review process, this special issue will be published in the spring of 2023.


Important dates:

15 September 2021: Deadline for submitting abstract proposals

30 November 2021:   Notification of acceptance

31 July 2022:             Submission of full papers

30 November 2022:   Reviewers’ reports

15 March 2023:         Submission of final revised papers

Spring 2023:              Publication of special issue



Borodo, M. (2015) ‘Multimodality, Translation and Comics’, Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 23(1): 22-41.

Borodo, M. (2016) ‘Exploring the Links between Comics Translation and AVT’, TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies 8(2): 68-85.

Kaindl, K. (1999) ‘Thump, Whizz, Poom: A Framework for the Study of Comics under Translation’, Target 11: 263-288.

Kaindl, K. (2004) ‘Multimodality in the Translation of Humour in Comics’ In E. Ventola, C. Charles & M. Kaltenbacher (Eds.), Perspectives on Multimodality, 173-192, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Zanettin, F. (2014) ‘Visual Adaptation in Translated Comics’, InTRAlinea 16.

Zanettin, F. (Ed.) (2008) Comics in Translation. Manchester: St. Jerome.