Our wonderful own Rachel Davis chatted with Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron at NYCC 2017 about Europe Comics and how different American comics and publishing can be; Kyuregyan-Baron also talks some upcoming projects!


Rachel: Welcome to New York Comicon 2017. My name is Rachel Davis. With me is Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron. Did I get … Yes! My French accent is improving, my French pronunciation. And you are listening to ComicsVerse. How are you enjoying your Con so far, Nazeli?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: It’s overwhelming — it’s our third Comicon, and I still can’t get used to the noise and the crowds and everything, but I think so far it’s very good for us and our authors get a lot of attention, so I really like it, yes.

Rachel: You are here representing Europe Comics, and Europe Comics is both a pan-European alliance, that serves as a publisher, promoter of European comics, and an online directory for the history of European comics. Quite a lot of hats at Europe Comics.

So let’s get right into it. Can you describe for us what the process of translation is like, because your publisher doesn’t just translate words, you’re translating comics, so that’s translating context that’s both visual and textual?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Yes, first of all, just to start from the beginning, the selection of titles, basically we’re 13 European publishers, so each publisher … from eight European countries … so each publisher chooses, picks a few titles from their catalog. They send them to us and then tell us, “We want you to translate this and this and this.” And then we start the work; we have a team of translators.

They’re all Americans because we really insist on having native speakers, so our letterers are American and our proofreaders as well. We select the titles, we send the files, and so far I don’t think there have been many many big challenges. There are a few titles that are very, very French, as they say.

Very French, so it is a challenge for translators. They love it, they love it. And I think so far we manage. We don’t want to make our comics sound completely American. We don’t want them to sound too foreign either, so there is also a sort of negotiation.

Some titles that are more mainstream, for example, they can sound a bit … they can have a bit more of an American touch, whereas some very serious graphic novels, for example, the biography of a French painter, we want to try to make it remain … to keep that French feel, even in the language, although it’s English but still let’s say a bit more elevated English, let’s say.

So yes, that’s pretty much it. We have many, many proofreaders who read the books, and the lettering as well is very challenging, because translating for comics, it’s obviously a challenge because there are some set rules. You cannot make the phrases too long because they would not fit in a bubble. We cannot cut words, or the letterer is always complaining that the words don’t fit, but overall I think we’re trying to do our best and I think the results are not so bad.

Rachel: The results are more than not so bad. Very much enjoy your publisher.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Thank you.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron

Rachel: Yes, so moving on, is there such a thing as a European comic? How would you say European comics or European comic readers and publishers differ from American comics and American comic culture?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: The first part of your … well, both parts of your question are very, very complex, and I don’t think I have the answer. I don’t think anyone does, or maybe there are many many different opinions that make one answer. But European comics are such, they really don’t exist. The only thing we can say to define them is that these are comics made in Europe by European creators.

If you look closely, of course, you will see that Polish comics are much more different than French comics, which are very different from Scandinavian comics, which are different from Turkish comics, and each country have their own tradition, their own history. You can see it on our website; you can read the history of comics in different European countries.

By reading this, you can understand that they’re very, very different traditions. We often speak about Franco-Belgian comics, so the comics were just in France and Belgium, which are a very, very big market. The biggest market in Europe, basically, are Franco-Belgian. The famous bande dessinée, as they say.

But if we presume that there is such an animal called “European comics,” and we want to compare it to American comics, there as well we see some differences in the formats, really like practical differences in the formats and the sizes. Basically, in European comics, there is no such thing as standard size, standard page count.

There is just a 48-page which is often our issue, first one issue is 48 pages, but that is not always the case. There are 96 pages, 100-page, 200, 400. It’s not so standardized as in the US. That’s format. As for the content, that as well is very different. Not very different, but it is sometimes different because often we do what … most of the time we do what I think you call “author/creator-owned comics” I guess.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: That’s how you call it when it’s just one creator who does the art and the script, or maximum two. One does the art, the other one does the script. We don’t have teams and studios working on comics, it’s always done by one or two or very rarely by two or three people, but that’s I think also main difference. Also, it’s not so character-based, that’s something that I heard here in the US, someone speaking about European comics and saying, “Oh, your comics are not character-based as ours.”

I know, they are story-based, it’s all about the story. I can go on forever, there are many many differences, although the bottom line is we have this panel that’s on Comic-Con, where we try to have American and European authors speaking to each other, comparing their work, and we realized that in the end there are no differences, because the bottom line is it’s all about good stories. It’s about stories that people want to read, so let’s end it on this positive note, to this question.

Rachel: It’s beautiful, comics is its own language, its own universal culture.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Yes.

Rachel: Are there any common questions American comic readers have to you or are there any common misconceptions about European comics?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: A common question is what are European comics? People ask us all the time here at ComiCon. They seem pretty curious, so in the end, it’s a good question to ask. I’m happy they’re asking it. Misconceptions, I don’t know. There is this comic style that came from France and Belgium, the big noses. It’s a cartoony style. So I think that is a misconception.

It’s not very common, but it happens, that people think that this is European comics, that they’re all big noses, like a caricature, like cartoony style. It’s not like that at all. There are some books still that exist that are created in this style, but we have all kinds of styles and genres, so it’s very, very diverse. I don’t know what else … I don’t think there are many misconceptions because I think overall people still don’t know what European comics are. So they’re still in the process of discovering them and … yeah.

Rachel: There is a joy in discovering. It’s nice to discover a comic. Could you tell us the scope of your online directory? What topics do you cover and who can access it?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Yeah, this actually is very much linked to the previous question, because people, readers around the world don’t know much about European comics or they don’t know they exist. The idea is to have a website where a reader but also a professional, a publisher, a journalist, a librarian, can find information about European comics as a whole.

So not just about the comics of the publishers that are a part of Europe Comics, of the project, but in general. So if you are a reader, for example, you can find information about all of our books, about authors, about current promotions, about events that are happening around where you live, for example.

About upcoming movies that are based on comics, all kinds of information like this, whereas a publisher, for example, they can find information on the markets in European countries. The French comics market, the Flemish comics market, or maybe even some statistics on comics.

They can also … I don’t know what else, actually. For example, readers and professionals, they can find information on European comics that are published in the US, but that people don’t know that they’re European. For example, you might be reading now The Death of Stalin, the graphic novel that just came out and that is also going to be a film … it is already a film, it will be released next year.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron

But you might not know, you might not notice that the names of the authors are foreign. You might not think that it’s European, but it’s actually a French comic, French graphic novel. So yeah, we have the [inaudible 00:09:07] section of our website which is specially dedicated for the information for professionals.

We have a calendar of events around the world, comics-related, books-related events around the world, so just come to our website, and you will discover … I think each will discover something for themselves.

Rachel: Absolutely. What would you say are differences between European comic readers and American comic readers? What kind of questions or interactions do you see your creators having with these different readers?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: I don’t know, that would be very difficult to say because we also … I see that the American readers are also very different, and they differ from one event to another. For example, there is the — let’s say, we can say that the majority of readers that we meet at the Comicon in San Diego or in New York, they’re much interested in action-adventure series, in thrillers, and in horror series, in genre basically, comics.

Whereas the readers that we meet at small arts festivals like the MoCCA Festival or Small Press Expo, they are very much fascinated by the artwork. They’re very much … they’re looking for graphic novels on serious subjects, biographies, non-fiction.

So I think the bottom line is I wouldn’t say that there are that many differences between the fans, European and American, as there are between the fans themselves within the same country. So I think on both sides of the Atlantic, I’d say that they’re just hungry for stories and for beautiful art.

Rachel: How can American readers support this artwork and these stories? How can they support European comic creators?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: They can read their books. That’s the easiest and the best support we can get. They can find our comics everywhere, on our website, on the major comics platforms, on ComiXology, Apple, Amazon, Google, in libraries throughout the US. So I think the best is just read more comics.

Rachel: Any upcoming titles you would like to tell us about?

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Yes, that too is a bit tricky because we do publish between 18 and 20 titles per month, but I would really love to tell you a bit more about the titles that we’re presenting here at Comic-Con. Tyler Cross is at the center. If you are passing by our booth, you can’t help but see and admire him.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron

It’s a series about … it’s a graphic novel about a gangster. It’s set in Texas in the 1950s, so it is very very very American, and it’s very much influenced by American noir, American crime fiction. So he is this lovable gangster, because by the end of the book, although he is supposed to be a bad guy, you can’t help but love him because he’s not so bad after all. We follow his adventures in Texas as he’s trying to … as he finds himself in a very difficult situation.

A heist doesn’t go well, and he ends up with 20 kilos of heroin, all alone, and empty and broke without any cash, in the middle of the desert. He goes to this village hoping to find a car and just go back to town and finish his business, but then many many other things happen in this little town, and it ends up exploding. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but you’ll see. So this is a series that we love talking about here, and we’ve seen that the fans are really enjoying the art and they’re asking for signatures, so that’s one that I suggest everyone should read. Even people who don’t like the genre, because I personally, I’m not a reader of noir fiction, but it’s just so captivating.

Rachel: As someone who’s also read Tyler Cross, it’s definitely worth a read. It’s a phenomenal book.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Thank you.

Rachel: Thank you so much for your time Nazali.

Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron: Thank you very much, Rachel. It’s been a pleasure.

Rachel: Thank you so much, Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron! For more interviews as well as reviews, analyses and more, check out comicsverse.com. My name is Rachel Davis, and we’ll see you next time.

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