Tag Archives: Becky Never Saw The Ball

European Translations

In the couple of days since the interview with Alison Christie was published, we have had some particularly interesting information sent in. Candela, who writes about girls’ comics in Spain, tells us that Alison’s ‘story “Over the Rainbow” was very popular in Spain and reprinted in two different girl’s magazines, and of course all the stories under the Gypsy Rose head, which in Spain sometimes were reprinted under the Uncle Pete’s stories.’ Likewise, Peggy from Greece wrote in to say ‘I was really touched to discover after 40 years the writer of one of the stories (“My Name is Nobody”) that I loved in my early youth! It is such a lovely story about the power of friendship’. She was even able to send in some scans of the Greek translation of this story, shown here with many thanks to her (see below for the first and last episodes). She also says that ‘”My Name Is Nobody” was selected to be among the stories to be included in the first issues of the Greek magazine Manina (issue 9), something that shows the significance of the story itself! Just for your information, the other stories of the first issues were “The Cat Girl” (from Sally),  “Molly Mills” (from Tammy), “Lucky’s Living Doll” (from June &  Schoolfriend), “Jackie & the Wild Boys” (from Princess Tina)” and “Bessie Bunter” (from June & Schoolfriend).’

Greek translation of “Nobody Knows My Name” (originally published in June & Schoolfriend, 1971)

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Nobody Knows My Name ep 1 pg 3

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Nobody Knows My Name last ep pg 2

Nobody Knows My Name last ep pg 3

The work done by writers and artists in comics like Jinty was typically on a work-for-hire basis, with a flat fee being paid and no expectation of earning royalties on reprints or translations and so forth. The artwork was owned by the publishing company and not sent back to the artist. A lot of the communication we’d perhaps expect to be happening was just not on the cards: for instance it does not seem that Alison was very aware of the extent of her stories’ popularity, and certainly she was not aware that “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was reprinted in Princess in 1984. (Indeed, in a reply to a reader’s 1981 letter, this story was described as one of Jinty‘s most popular stories.) Translations into another language were presumably something that creators were unaware of the existence of, except as a vague possibility.

(In a separate email, Alison says ‘I did know that DC Thomsons had a room with magazine journalists seconded to doing this, syndicating picture stories for European countries. As the payment slips freelancers like myself got always had at the foot, “All copyright for all purposes”; this meant they could do what they liked with picture stories etc, once they had paid the writer and artist a one-off payment. However, I had no idea that IPC did this as well – but I didn’t keep any payslips from them, and I can’t remember what was written on them. It must have been on these lines.’ From my own personal knowledge, I was involved with the SSI – the Society of Strip Illustrators – in the early 1990s and there was much talk at the time about work-for-hire contracts and the rather brutal agreements in place. There was little or nothing in the way of a formal contract, and instead as Alison says, your actual payment slip confirmed that this was in consideration of all your creators rights. There would have been no way round this if you wanted to be paid! At the time I was involved in these areas, there was a lot of work being done to change this situation, but at one time it was very normal and not even questioned by many.)

However, it is clear that there was a lot of this translation going on over the years, in many directions. The Dutch auction site Catawiki is an invaluable resource for many British comics but particularly so for this question; although details are not all complete in every cases it lists stories by issue, artist, writer, and original title. Many stories were reprinted in the Tina series Tina Topstrip, as albums collecting the whole story with a new cover. Usually the protagonist was also renamed to something locally suitable (so the protagonist of “Becky Never Saw The Ball” turned into “Eefje”). There was also a monthly magazine, Tina Club, which reprinted stories in an anthology format with what looks like a couple of stories in each one. For instance, “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” was translated as “De droom van een ander / The Dream of Another” in 1975.

Some of the individual Tina Topstrips I have looked at on Catawiki are listed below.

As can be seen from the above list, a number of the Jinty creators were represented in these Dutch translations – prolific artists Phil Gascoine, Jim Baikie, and Phil Townsend were all published in this series, and popular writer Alison Christie is represented too, along with Pat Mills. Nowadays the flow of material will presumably be more likely to go the other way, if at all (Trini Tinturé has recently had original Dutch material being republished in UK magazine Girls & Co).

I’m not in the best position to check, but I would love to know more about the details of these translated editions. How faithfully was the translation done? What changed, apart from names and covers – were story lines ever abridged or even amended? Were credits given to artists and writers in any cases? (I do have one or two of the Tina Topstrips and don’t believe anyone was created apart from the local artist who drew the new cover.)

I would also love to know whether this was limited to Europe or not? Once you’ve translated material into Spanish or Portuguese then Latin America becomes available as a market, but it is a lot further away for connections to be made and that may well just not have happened. I know that Brazil and Mexico have their own local comics publishing traditions, as does Argentina (I don’t know about the other Latin American countries), with quite a different feel from the British weekly comic. Certainly in Brazil and Mexico if you see a foreign translation then it is very likely to consist of American reprinted material: Disney material such as the Donald Duck stories, and the Harvey comics such as Little Lulu and Richie Rich. Marvel and DC also make a strong showing in those markets, but the sort of emotional long-running story seen in British girls comics is not very prevalent as far as I know. They would match well with the interest in telenovelas (soap operas) but perhaps this connection is one that was never made?

Further information from Sleuth of Catawiki:

I have never closely looked at the translations done in the Netherlands. My impression is that stories are usually complete and properly translated, although the names are often changed (“Patty’s World” is translated as “Peggy’s wereldje”, probably because there already was a “Patty” strip in Tina at the time). Having said that, I should compare “Gail’s Indian Necklace” to the translation: reading the story in Jinty I found an episode in London with Gail travelling the tube that might have been taken out as it seemed new to me. Perhaps too outlandish! They always tried to make it look like the stories took place in Holland. That did not work for the school stories with all the uniformed girls of course (no uniforms at school here). I read somewhere that a girl had even asked her parents to send her to boarding school because of the stories in Tina. She did not like it very much when she got there. Boarding schools here are for children whose parents are travelling or for children with behaviour problems or illnesses which cannot be taken care of at home. Another story that I should compare one of these days is “Maartje het ganzenmeisje” (Marge the goose girl). The story very much resembles the story of “The Goose Girl”, but the story takes place in Holland and is drawn by Dutch artist Piet Wijn.