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Q&A Ivanka Hahnenberger


Ivanka Hahnenberger’s agency specialises in bringing bandes dessinées (graphic novels) from France and other European countries into the English- speaking world. She tells Tom Tivnan about a burgeoning Anglophone market and the art of translating comics


The VIP treatment tom tivnan


Can you briefly sketch out VIP Brands’ business, who you represent, and some of your bigger properties? ivanka hahnenberger We specialise in selling European rights into the US and other English-speaking markets, with a specific expertise in graphic novels and comics. The agency represents some of the largest publishers in Europe, such as France’s Glénat Editions and Makaka Éditions, and Germany-based Carlsen Comics. We have sold the English-language rights to over 70 graphic novels and comics books, including two New York Times best- sellers: Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Color (Arsenal Pulp) and Olivier Balez and Pierre Christin’s Robert Moses (Nobrow).


Which titles and rights are you most excited to be taking to this year’s fair? Young Adult is a fast growing genre and everyone is asking for it. [Roberto Ricci’s] The Red Harlequin is a title I am very pleased to be able to pitch as it is a genuine YA title in which a young protagonist in a fantasy world fights division among differences. I am very pro-environment, so Rue de l’Echiquier’s Who Will Take Out the Trash— about all the waste we make and how so much more could be done to recycle—is a title I am proud to represent. Glénat, which publishes about 800 titles a year, has some great new properties for Frankfurt. We also have Élian Black’Mor and Carine-M’s Wild West Dragons, a new chapter in the adven-


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tures of their famous dragon hunter, as well as their new Spooky volume, Spooky and the Strange Tales: Monster Inn.


What do you think of the graphic novel/ comics market in Anglophone world? What’s driving sales, the superhero end, or the “quality” side?


The exciting thing about graphic novels and comics in the Anglophone world is that the appeal of all tpes of properties is growing. I can’t speak much for superheroes and floppies [single-issue comics] as it is not where my knowledge lies, but in terms of everything else, and especially longer- format titles, the appeal across reader bases is undeniable. The UK is a smaller market, but the appeal is growing.


Graphic novels and comics still aren’t esteemed in the UK in the way they are in the rest of Europe—particularly in France. Do you see that changing? It is difficult to compare the UK to France, or to other European countries. There is a long tradition of comics in France, and in Belgium too. Just about every household


purchases one comic a year and adults read them as readily as children. Italy has Diabo- lik, which has been running for 50 years, and people of all ages read it. But the UK is coming into its own. The appeal there is growing, as it is in the US.


VIP also offers a translation service and you have translated some titles yourself, including Blue is the Warmest Color. How do you find that process? What are the particular skills a comics translator needs? The most important thing is voice—each character has a specific voice. It is almost like translating films or TV. One is tempted, because it is on paper, to translate it like a book or a novel but it is really important to remember that personalities are talking. And the language must be contemporary, either to today or to the time in which the work is set. It is important to try and get the same stle as the original, but in an Ameri- can context instead of a French or German one. The other two things I would mention are that you are limited in space, and you can rarely switch things around because the art matches the dialogue.


The most important thing is voice—each character has a specific voice. It is almost like translating films or TV. One is tempted, because it is on paper, to translate it like a book or a novel but it is really important to remember that personalities are talking.


12th October 2017


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